Gifford Pinchot National Forest

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Gifford Pinchot National Forest
OldSnowy 15A.JPG
Map showing the location of Gifford Pinchot National Forest
Map showing the location of Gifford Pinchot National Forest
Map showing the location of Gifford Pinchot National Forest
Map showing the location of Gifford Pinchot National Forest
LocationWashington, USA
Nearest cityAmboy, WA
Coordinates46°10′N 121°49′W / 46.167°N 121.817°W / 46.167; -121.817Coordinates: 46°10′N 121°49′W / 46.167°N 121.817°W / 46.167; -121.817[1]
Area1,321,506 acres (5,347.95 km2)[2]
EstablishedJuly 1, 1908[3]
Visitors1,800,000 (in 2005)
Governing bodyU.S. Forest Service
WebsiteGifford Pinchot National Forest

Gifford Pinchot National Forest is a National Forest located in southern Washington, USA, managed by the United States Forest Service. With an area of 1.32 million acres (5300 km2), it extends 116 km along the western slopes of Cascade Range from Mount Rainier National Park to the Columbia River. The forest straddles the crest of the South Cascades of Washington State, spread out over broad, old growth forests, high mountain meadows, several glaciers, and numerous volcanic peaks. The forest's highest point is at 12,276 ft. at the top of Mount Adams, the second tallest volcano in the state after Rainier. Often found abbreviated GPNF on maps and in texts, it includes the 110,000-acre (450 km2) Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument, established by Congress in 1982.


A U.S. Forest Service ranger and cattle grazer permittee on a hillside with cattle in Gifford Pinchot National Forest, Washington in 1949

Gifford Pinchot National Forest is one of the older national forests in the United States. Included as part of the Mount Rainier Forest Reserve in 1897, 941,440 acres (3,809.9 km2) was set aside as the Columbia National Forest on July 1, 1908.

In 1855, the US government commissioned Washington Territory to negotiate land cession treaties with tribes around the forest. The Yakama tribe signed a treaty agreement that stipulated their moving to a reservation while maintaining off-reservation resource rights; however, the original treaty was then broken in 1916 when the Washington State Supreme Court ruled that Yakamas' hunting off the reservation had to subscribe to state fish and game laws. Many tribes in the area have continued to use the area's resources while encountering non-Native hunters, fishers, and recreation users.[4]

It was later renamed the Gifford Pinchot National Forest on June 15, 1949, in honor of Gifford Pinchot, one of the leading figures in the creation of the national forest system of the United States. His widow and fellow conservationist, Cornelia Bryce Pinchot, was one of the speakers who addressed the audience assembled that day.[5] In 1985 the non-profit Gifford Pinchot Task Force formed to promote conservation of the forest.


Map of Gifford Pinchot National Forest
Lower Falls of the Lewis River
Mount Adams early morning reflection at Takhlakh Lake

Gifford Pinchot National Forest is located in a mountainous region approximately between Mount St. Helens to the west, Mount Adams to the east, Mount Rainier National Park to the north, and the Columbia River to the south. This region of Southwest Washington is noted for its complex topography and volcanic geology. About 65 percent of the forest acreage is located in Skamania County. In descending order of land area the others are Lewis, Yakima, Cowlitz, and Klickitat. counties.[6]

Major rivers[edit]

The Pacific Northwest brings abundant rainfall to the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, feeding an extensive network of rivers. The forest has only one river currently designated as Wild and Scenic, the White Salmon River, fed from glaciers high on Mount Adams. The Gifford Pinchot National Forest recommends four rivers to be added to the Wild and Scenic System. They are the Lewis River, the Cispus River, the Clear Fork and the Muddy Fork of the Cowlitz River. There are an additional thirteen rivers in the forest being studied for consideration into the national Wild and Scenic River System.[7]

The following listed are the major streams and rivers of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. Many of these provide excellent fishing.[8]

Major lakes[edit]

The Gifford Pinchot National Forest includes many popular and secluded backcountry lakes. Most of the lakes offers excellent fishing. Goose Lake is known for the best fishing in the State of Washington.

The following table lists the major lakes of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest:[9]

Lake Area
1 Spirit Lake Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument
2 Blue Lake Cispus River Valley
3 Walupt Lake Base of Goat Rocks
4 Takhlakh Lake Midway High Lakes Area, below Mount Adams
5 Forlorn Lakes Indian Heaven Volcanic Field Area
6 Steamboat Lake Between Indian Heaven Wilderness to the south and Lewis River to the north
7 Goose Lake Indian Heaven Volcanic Field
8 Indian Heaven Wilderness Lakes Indian Heaven Wilderness
9 Soda Peaks Lake Trapper Creek Wilderness
10 Mt. Margaret Backcountry Lakes Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument
11 Mosquito Lakes North of Indian Heaven Wilderness and Indian Heaven Volcanic Field
12 Lake Scanewa 5 miles (east) from Taidnapam Park (at west end of Riffe Lake)
13 Riffe Reservoir Cowlitz River
14 Swift Reservoir Lewis River
15 Mayfield Reservoir Cowlitz River
16 Olallie Lake Midway High Lakes Area, below Mount Adams
17 Horseshoe Lake Midway High Lakes Area, below Mount Adams
18 Council Lake Midway High Lakes Area, below Mount Adams
19 Tatoosh lakes Tatoosh Wilderness, south of Mount Rainier National Park
20 Goat Lake Goat Rocks Wilderness
21 Packwood Lake large lake at the edge of Goat Rocks Wilderness

Congressional action[edit]

Congressional action since 1964 has established one national monument and seven wilderness areas in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest.

National Monuments[edit]

3,000 ft (1 km) steam plume on May 19, 1982, two years after its major eruption

On August 26, 1982, congressional action established the Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument, after the cataclysmic eruption of Mount St. Helens in 1980.

Wilderness Areas[edit]

Congressional action since 1964 has established the following wilderness areas:

Points of interest[edit]

Summit of Silver Star with Mount St. Helens in the background

The forest also offers the following special areas and points of interest:[14]

Forest Service management[edit]

The forest supervisor's office is located in Vancouver, Washington. There are local ranger district offices in Randle, Amboy, and Trout Lake.[17] The forest is named after the first chief of the United States Forest Service, Gifford Pinchot. Washington towns near entrances of the forest include Cougar, Randle, Packwood, Trout Lake and Carson.

The Rugged Tatoosh Range from Paradise
The Rugged Tatoosh Range from Paradise.


A 1993 Forest Service study estimated that the extent of old growth in the Forest was 198,000 acres (80,000 ha), some of which is contained within its wilderness areas.[18]

Northern Spotted Owl, found in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest

The Gifford Pinchot National Forest is the native habitat for several threatened species which include the spotted owl (threatened 2012)[19] as well as multiple species of Northwest fish like the bull trout (threatened 1998),[20] chinook salmon (threatened 2011), coho salmon (threatened 2011) and steelhead (threatened 2011).[21]

People for over 6,000 years have made an impact in the ecology of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest.[14] Native Americans hunted in high meadows below receding glaciers. The natives then began to manage the forest to meet their own needs. One method they used was to burn specific areas to help in the huckleberry production. About 338 spots more than 6,000 culturally modified trees were identified, of which 3,000 are protected now. Archaeological investigations on the forest continually find new information to this day about the past lifestyles of the Native Americans.[14]

The forest is home to the Big Tree at the southern flank of Mt Adams, one of the world's largest Ponderosa Trees.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Gifford Pinchot National Forest". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey.
  2. ^ "Land Areas of the National Forest System" (PDF). U.S. Forest Service. January 2012. Retrieved June 30, 2012.
  3. ^ "The National Forests of the United States" (PDF). Retrieved November 3, 2017.
  4. ^ Catton, Theodore (2017). American Indians and National Forests. Tucson, AZ: University of Arizona Press. ISBN 9780816536511.
  5. ^ Davis, Richard C. (September 29, 2005), National Forests of the United States (PDF), The Forest History Society, archived from the original (PDF) on October 28, 2012
  6. ^
  7. ^ "Gifford Pinchot National Forest – Wild and Scenic Rivers". Retrieved 20 April 2013.
  8. ^ "Gifford Pinchot National Forest – Streams and Rivers". Retrieved 20 April 2013.
  9. ^ "Gifford Pinchot National Forest – Lakes".
  10. ^ Wilderness Data Search Archived 2009-08-20 at the Wayback Machine website, data as of 2011
  11. ^ Goat Rocks Wilderness acreage breakdown,
  12. ^ William O. Douglas Wilderness acreage breakdown,
  13. ^ "Dark Divide". Washington Trails Association. Retrieved 10 May 2013.
  14. ^ a b c "About the Forest". Retrieved 18 April 2013.
  15. ^ "Indian Heaven Wilderness – Subsection: Northwest Tribes". Retrieved 18 April 2013.
  16. ^ Otto, Terry (5 September 2018). "Sawtooth Berry Fields offer late-season treats for huckleberry hunters". The Columbian. Retrieved 25 August 2021.
  17. ^ USFS Ranger Districts by State
  18. ^ Bolsinger, Charles L.; Waddell, Karen L. (1993), Area of old-growth forests in California, Oregon, and Washington (PDF), United States Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station, Resource Bulletin PNW-RB-197
  19. ^ "Species Profile-Northern Spotted owl (Strix occidentalis caurina)". U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Retrieved 2014-04-29.
  20. ^ "Species Profile-Bull Trout (Salvelinus confluentus)". U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Archived from the original on 2013-12-11. Retrieved 2014-04-29.
  21. ^ "5-Year Review: Summary & Evaluation of Lower Columbia River Chinook, Columbia River Chum, Lower Columbia River Coho, Lower Columbia River Steelhead" (PDF). National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. 2011. Retrieved 2013-12-03.

External links[edit]