This morning (8/7), Crater Lake National Park lifted the closures on the Pacific Crest Trail and Rim Trail in the Bybee Creek Fire area. Now thru-hikers and section hikers can continue through the park on regular routes without having to take the lengthy detour around East Rim Drive. The Lightning Spring Trail and camp area continues to be closed as fire crews continue mopping up the area.
The PCT and Lightning Spring Trail were closed shortly after the Bybee Creek Fire broke out on July 28 and threatened trails in the area. The park diverted thru-hikers onto the Rim Trail to bypass the closure. As high temps and moderate winds fanned the blaze for the next several days, it climbed up the caldera slope, all the way to West Rim Drive. At this point, the park closed the road, the nearby Rim Trail, and issued a cautionary evacuation order to the Rim Village and park headquarters. The park remained open, however all visitor and hiker traffic was diverted to East Rim Drive.
Since its outset, the Bybee Creek Fire has grown to nearly 1,200 acres on the southwestern caldera slope (see map). But with cooler temps and less wind over the last couple days, fire crews have managed to contain much of the blaze, and have set several brake fires to halt its advance. The park expects to reopen West Rim Drive tomorrow (8/8), and park authorities are expecting to get the fire fully contained in the coming days.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation, but authorities suspect it was carelessness by backcountry hikers. The park, and nearby national forests, have issued summer fire restrictions in areas that have high potential for wildfire. Hikers and campers are urged to observe these restrictions and use extreme caution with campfires in areas where still allowed. Hikers are also warned against traveling off trail in areas recently burned.
If you are hiking or backpacking on the PCT—or anywhere—it is vitally important that you practice good campfire management. Stir hot ashes with dirt and, if possible, douse with water. Never leave a smoldering campfire. If you see smoke in the forest as you’re hiking, report it immediately by calling 911. As Smokey Bear says, “Only you can prevent wildfires.”
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