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thuja
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PostSun Mar 14, 2021 5:59 pm 
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Drove SR 165 from the junction with Carbon River road to the snowline and snowshoed up towards Mowich Lake today.

The road is snow-free and driveable to about 2 miles from the park boundary but is in TERRIBLE shape in places. Lots and lots of potholes, so many potholes. Not bad in some spots, awful in others. Awful as in you can't avoid them so you have to just slowly bounce your way up/down the road.

Surprisingly, the outhouse at the Paul Peak trailhead was open and stocked with TP and sanitizer.
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williswall
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PostSun Mar 14, 2021 7:04 pm 
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https://www.williswall.com/mowich-lake-road

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Pyrites
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PostSun Mar 14, 2021 11:17 pm 
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Is this long standing issue related to the road passing through timber company land for miles? The basic alignment doesn’t seem bad to me.
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cascadeclimber
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PostMon Mar 15, 2021 8:11 am 
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It's a mountain road to a trailhead. And in the video it looks not at all bad compared to what the Middle Fork road was like when it was open past Dingford or especially the old road to Cold Springs on Adams...before it was 'fixed'.

The last time I drove out of the complete Middle Fork road I stopped for gas at Edgewick and found that I'd broken a shock mount completely off my Jeep- the shock, with the mount attached, was leaning out the side of the car.

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altasnob
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PostMon Mar 15, 2021 8:57 am 
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Mowich Lake is only 70 miles from downtown Seattle. Sunrise is 101 miles, Paradise 104 miles. If the road was improved, the place would get even more slammed than it already does (and on busy summer weekends, parking extends miles down the road from the lake). The park has talked about moving the end of the road down a mile or so away from the lake because in its current form, the end of the dirt road is immediately adjacent to the lake and vehicles driving by are depositing debris from the road into the lake, affecting the clarity and water quality of the lake.

The road does get noticeably better when one hits the park boundary. I assume the other part of the road is maintained by Pierce County as it is a public dirt road in unincorporated Pierce County (more poor than King and Snohomish County). It is also the route to Evans Creek Off Road Vehicle area, which is one of the most popular off road vehicle areas around. A subset of users  are traveling here specifically for the terribly maintained roads.

The rough road is annoying but this is my go to high country hiking area from Tacoma and I appreciate the rough road as a gatekeeper preventing the place from being completely overrun.
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neek
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PostMon Mar 15, 2021 9:35 am 
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altasnob wrote:
The rough road is annoying but this is my go to high country hiking area from Tacoma and I appreciate the rough road as a gatekeeper preventing the place from being completely overrun.

Cool, so I'll just take my truck, which gets half the mileage of the car.  Roads should either be maintained for all vehicles, or turned into trails.  (Sure, ATV-only roads can be as cruddy as people  like.)  The current situation, with a lot of the good stuff at the end of high-clearance-only roads, just encourages people to buy gas guzzlers.
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altasnob
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PostMon Mar 15, 2021 10:20 am 
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Mowich Lake road isn't rough requiring high clearance. It is just rough with pot holes. I generally drive my beater 2wd Ford focus up there just as fast as anyone with AWD is driving. We can't pave every single road that leads into the mountains. MRNP already has two paved roads leading into the high country, with massive parking lots at the end of the road. The NW side feels a tad bit quieter due to the rough dirt road approach.

I think the general trend of Americans buying larger, more truck like vehicles is not due to mountain road hiking approaches but for other reasons. After living in CO and UT, WA has some of the best maintained mountain roads. My Ford Focus has been to most of the infamously rough trail heads in WA. This would not be possible in CO.
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neek
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PostMon Mar 15, 2021 11:03 am 
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I'm arguing for potholes to be filled, not for more pavement (ick).  When in doubt, I'm going to take the vehicle with higher clearance.  We've all seen the odd Prius at the end of the Middle Fork or Hidden Lake or Phelps Creek roads, but I think these people are just asking to lose car parts, wreck their suspension, get stranded, etc.  You're probably right that trailhead access only accounts for a fraction of SUV/truck sales, but it's not zero.  Glad to hear of success with the Focus, because I don't plan to replace the Tacoma when (if) it dies.
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altasnob
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PostMon Mar 15, 2021 12:13 pm 
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The current potholed road definitely diverts users to other locations. Due to its close proximity to millions of people, I can't imagine this area if the road was an easy smooth dirt drive. The small parking lot at the end has two rows of cars. When this is filled, cars park along the road. Tolmie Peak is one of those top 10 hikes in Washington that attracts the instagram crowds. When its crowded, people do not just politely park their cars orderly along the road but cram them into every conceivable space, making it difficult for emergency vehicles to approach. With more users, I could see this area becoming like Stuart/Colchuck Lake parking lot and closed to day use once the official small parking lot is filled. Maybe if they did a massive redesign and built large parking lots below the lake they could increase capacity.
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Malachai Constant
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PostMon Mar 15, 2021 12:57 pm 
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In addition to all that Mowich is one of the few access/resupply points on the Northside of the Wonderland trail since Carbon River got iffy. Especially critical since the West Side Road became bike only and timber companies have made Golden Lakes expensive to visit.

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Randito
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PostMon Mar 15, 2021 1:07 pm 
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A dirt road on the wet side of the Cascades that goes to a popular destination has potholes!!  ***shock***      As the Middle Fork road has demonstrated even with annual grading a dirt/gravel road develops potholes.   It's basically a function of the # of vehicles that travel the road. 

Paving the road would help,  but without expanding the parking area at Mowich Lake capacity isn't going to be improved.

If anything the lumpy road helps Spray Park provide a slighty less "Disney" experience than Paradise or Sunrise.
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Malachai Constant
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PostMon Mar 15, 2021 1:10 pm 
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I do not imply that I favor paving the road.

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rossb
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PostMon Mar 15, 2021 1:58 pm 
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I'm not convinced that the bad road does much in terms of reduced crowding. I'm sure it has some effect, just not a lot. Look how crowded the Teanaway is during Larch season. Fears about massive numbers of people hiking at the end of the pavement on the Middle Fork haven't materialized. Way more people go to Mailbox (which was always fairly easy to get to). Go figure.

Mowich Lake is still very crowded. Of course it isn't as crowded as Paradise or Sunrise -- that's where there are the views right outside the window. Nor can you go on a short, easy hike through flowery meadows, while looking at Rainier in the face. Not that the trails are especially hard, but they are harder.

If it was up to me, I would pave it, and then run shuttle buses when it is crowded. It is a perfect destination for shuttle buses, because there are only a couple trailheads. Create a big parking lot down low, and the bus can get everyone up there.
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kiliki
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PostMon Mar 15, 2021 3:51 pm 
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neek wrote:
The current situation, with a lot of the good stuff at the end of high-clearance-only roads, just encourages people to buy gas guzzlers.

Oh, I don't agree with that at all. The vast majority of the vehicles at trailheads are Subies and the like, not huge pickups. Second, there are many good choices for vehicles with clearance (and AWD, if you want it) that get great mileage these days. I'm currently in the market for an AWD PHEV myself which is how I know just how many choices there are...there are plenty of regular hybrids too.

My favorite Mowich Lake Road story is the time I was heading down and a car full of people in a white Cadillac was heading up (just a couple miles from the end). They flagged me down and asked if that was the road to Tacoma. I told them no, it was a dead end in a national park and they got so indignant and a well-dressed woman in jewelry drawled in her southern accent, "Don't you people believe in road signs? What's wrong with this state?" I still wonder how they could have possibly missed the signs and thought that road was going to take them to a city. This was ~1995 or so.
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neek
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PostMon Mar 15, 2021 4:02 pm 
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kiliki wrote:
I'm currently in the market for an AWD PHEV myself which is how I know just how many choices there are...there are plenty of regular hybrids too.

Same here, thinking rav4 prime, but also intrigued by full ev, when there are more choices in a few years.  Wayyy off topic though, sorry.
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