Public Lands

North Cascades National Park Complex

Jagged peaks, deep valleys, cascading waterfalls, and over 300 glaciers adorn the North Cascades National Park Complex. Three park units in this mountainous region are managed as one and include North Cascades National Park, Ross Lake, and Lake Chelan National Recreation Areas. These complementary protected lands are united by a contiguous overlay of Stephen Mather Wilderness.

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Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest

The Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest is one of the most visited forests in the country, located on the west side of the Cascades between the Canadian border and Mt. Rainier National Park. Here you will find glacier-covered peaks, spectacular mountain meadows and old-growth forests, rich in history and outdoor opportunities. Special places inside the forest include the Mt. Baker National Recreation Area, the Skagit Wild and Scenic River System, the Pacific Crest and Pacific Northwest National Trails, scenic byways, historic fire lookouts and numerous wilderness areas. The history of Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest claims a colorful past of more than a century of controversy, shifting philosophies, policies or boundaries. Washington state citizens were outraged in 1897 when President Cleveland turned the eight million acres of forest into reserves, keeping them from cutting timber, mining, farming and grazing. Although later legislative action allowed for these activities, it shows how much public sentiment about land use has changed.

In 1905, the forest reserves became part of the newly formed United States Forest Service. In the early years rangers watched over the forest, with their first duty to protect it from fire. Recruits withstood a three-day ordeal to apply for a Forest Service job in the 1900s, having to successfully complete such tasks as: “felling a tree 10 or more inches in diameter with an axe so that it drives a stake into the ground when it falls; tell the boss man what ingredients and how much of each to use in preparing a batch of biscuits; and, pack a horse with all the equipment and personal effects for five days while being timed,” according to a ranger’s letter in the forest’s archives.

In 1908 the Washington reserve was divided into two sections. From Canada south to the Skagit River, the Washington National Forest was established; and from the Skagit River to the Green River the Snoqualmie National Forest. In 1924 the Washington National Forest was renamed the Mt. Baker National Forest. Throughout the years Congress shifted boundaries while forests shifted districts, and in 1973 the Mt. Baker and Snoqualmie National Forests merged.

Forest Facts

Acres of National Forest System Lands
Gross Acres: 1,724,229 Acres
Wilderness: 827,101 Total Acres

Mt. Baker Wilderness: 117,528 Acres
Noisy Diobsud Wilderness: 14,443 Acres
Glacier Peak Wilderness: 570,973 Total Acres, Shared With Wenatchee-Okanogan NF / MBS portion is 286,504 Acres
Boulder River Wilderness: 49,132 Acres
Henry M. Jackson Wilderness: 103,100 Total Acres, Shared With Wenatchee-Okanogan NF / MBS portion is 75,788 Acres
Alpine Lakes Wilderness: 393,416 Total Acres, Shared With Wenatchee-Okanogan NF / MBS portion is 147,086 Acres
Norse Peak Wilderness: 51,300 Total Acres, Shared With Wenatchee-Okanogan NF / MBS portion is 15,529 Acres
Clearwater Wilderness: 14,514 Acres
Wild Sky Wilderness: 106,577 Acres

Special Interest Areas
Mather Memorial Highway: 75 Miles
Mt. Baker Scenic Byway: 24 Miles
Mt. Loop Highway: 50 Miles
Mt. Index Scenic Area: 13,179 Acres
Stevens Pass Historic District: 13,000 Acres
Mt. Baker National Recreation Area: 8,473 Acres
Skagit Wild and Scenic River: 158 Miles/37,844 Acres
Historic Fire Lookouts: 13

Land Management Allocations
Late Successional Reserve (LSR): 642,133 Acres
Late Successional Old Growth (LSOG): 39,019 Acres
Matrix: 36,863 Acres
Adaptive Management Area (AMA): 21,174 Acres
Riparian Reserve: 625,373 Acres
Administratively Withdrawn: 122,215 Acres

Total Miles of Trails: 1505.7
Wilderness Trails: 585.8 Trail Miles
Non-Wilderness Trails: 919.9 Trail Miles
Mt. Baker Ranger District: 412.1 Total Trail Miles
Darrington Ranger District: 367.2 Total Trail Miles
Skykomish Ranger District: 218.9 Total Trail Miles
Snoqualmie Ranger District (North Bend Area): 178.3 Total Trail Miles
Snoqualmie Ranger District (White River Area): 329.2 Total Trail Miles
Cross-Country Ski Trails: 119 Trail Miles
Snowmobile Trails: 168 Trail Miles

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North Cascades Institute operates in permitted areas under Special Use permits in North Cascades National Park, Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest and Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest.