The map on the left shows the outline of The Gifford Pinchot National Forest. The forest follows the summit of the Cascade Mountains with Mt. Adams on the east border to Mt. St. Helens on the west border. The north border goes up to the Mt. Rainier National Park and on the south the border goes all the way down, at least in places to the Columbia Gorge. For maps with campground locations within the Gifford Pinchot Forest, please follow the “Maps” tab on the menu above.
The Gifford Pinchot is one of the most important and well-known Forests in the US National Forest Service system because it is named after the person who gets the credit for forming the Forest Service in 1905. Then in 1908 Teddy Roosevelt signed an Executive Order creating the Columbia National Forest which was renamed the Gifford Pinchot National Forest in 1949, two years after the great man’s death.
There is a lot of history here since this area of the southern Washington Cascades was one of the first and most important sections of the national forests to become a part of the newly formed National Forest Service. Just six miles north of Trout Lake on the southeast side of Mt. Adams the Gotchen Creek Ranger Station still stands. It was built in 1909 and is one of only four district buildings built before 1910. The building is accessed by FS Roads 82 and 8255 north of Trout Lake.
These days the GP National Forest is probably best known country-wide as the home of the Mt. St. Helens National Volcanic Monument. There is great access to the volcano from the GP on the east side of the mountain on Road 25 coming south from Randle (located on State Highway 12) where the Cowlitz Valley District Ranger Station is located. To get there from the south side of the Forest one would start in Carson on the Columbia River heading north on Wind River Highway. There are campgrounds on both ends for a visitor to head out from. Near Randle, Iron Creek campground has over 100 prime sites in an overshadowing forest. Off of the Wind River “Highway” you can stay at Panther, Beaver or Paradise Campgrounds with other campgrounds close by in either direction.
The GP has something for everyone. Even though it is located fairly close to the cities of Portland, OR, Vancouver, WA, Tacoma and Seattle, it is still fairly wild with “sightings” of big foot happening from time to time and more frequent sightings of other wildlife as well. Mt. Adams is a favorite for mountain climbers and day hikers and the high lakes campgrounds on the northwest side of Mt. Adams are very popular with hunters and those who want to enjoy the Wilderness area of Mt. Adams. The campgrounds in the Forest range from somewhat civilized at the lower elevations to more rustic and wild areas at the higher elevations. We have hosts living in the campgrounds or attendants who visit each campground at least twice every day for cleaning and fee collections. To pay your fees please fill out the envelopes at the entry of each campground and drop them into the iron ranger nearby. Someone from Hoodoo will post a receipt at your campsite during the day. Reservations are available for most campgrounds.