William O. Douglas Wilderness
Covering 167,195 acres, the William O. Douglas Wilderness is a delightful slice of wild mountain country that includes hundreds of small lakes, more than 250 miles of trails, and grand ridges that offer panoramic views. The wilderness is named for the Supreme Court Justice whose environmental stands helped create areas such as this, and who spent considerable time hiking in these mountains.
William O. Douglas Wilderness is accessible via Highway 410 on the north side, Highway 12 on the south, and the Bumping River Road in the center, along with various Forest Service roads on the east side. Bumping Lake Road leads past eight Forest Service campgrounds, the little settlement of Goose Prairie, and Bumping Lake.
Boats can be rented and RV spaces are available at Bumping Lake Marina (509/575-0417). Goose Prairie Inn (509/837-3767) has a restaurant and cabin rentals, but these are generally only available in the fall and winter.
The Pacific Crest Trail heads through the southwest side of the wilderness for 14 miles; access it from Highways 12 and 410 on either end. Within the wilderness, the PCT passes many small lakes, marshes, tarns, and meadows, topping out on a 5,740-foot ridge where you can enjoy the mountain spectacle.
For an interesting loop trip that includes a section of the PCT, take Bumping River Road past Bumping Lake, and turn onto Road 18 to its end, where the Bumping Lake Trail (No. 971) climbs the headwaters of the Bumping River to Fish Lake. Here you turn north on the PCT, follow it to the American Ridge Trail (No. 958), and then hike two miles to the Swamp Lake Trail (No. 970), where you turn again to reach your starting point. The round-trip distance of this loop hike is approximately 27 miles.
A long one-way trek is the American Ridge Trail (No. 958), which starts just off Highway 410 and eventually meets the PCT after coursing over 27 miles of forests, ridges, and mountaintops, including 7,473-foot Goat Peak. At the PCT, you can turn north to reconnect with Highway 410, but you’ll need to catch a ride back to your starting point or set up a vehicle shuttle.
© Ericka Chickowski from Moon Washington, 8th edition