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Boulder River Wilderness

General Contacts Area Management Wilderness Laws
Photograph taken in  the Boulder River Wilderness
Forest Service


The United States Congress designated the Boulder River Wilderness (map) in 1984 and it now has a total of 49,343 acres. All of this wilderness is located in Washington and is managed by the Forest Service.


Three narrow spires--North, Middle, and South Peaks--known collectively as Three Fingers anchor the center of this Wilderness. Boulder River, the primary drainage, runs northwesterly from a north-south ridge that rises to a high point of 6,850 feet on South Peak. South Peak is also home to an old, precariously perched fire lookout. The high central ridge bears a narrow saw-toothed profile with several sharp summits, which include Liberty, Big Bear, and Whitehorse Mountains and Salish and Buckeye Peaks, all above 5,600 feet in elevation and flaunting sheer faces that attract rock climbers. Several steep and heavily wooded ridges thrust out east and west from the central crest of the Wilderness.

Alder, willow, devil's club, and other brushy plants (encouraged by as much as 100 inches of annual precipitation) make off-trail travel tremendously arduous. Climbers often wait until winter, when snow covers the brush. Along the river you'll find ancient trees: Douglas fir, true fir, western hemlock, and western red cedar. Some old trees have reached beyond 100 feet in height. Black bears, black-tailed deer, and elk inhabit the forest, with mountain goats staking out the rocky shelves above the tree line.

The great central core of the area remains rough and trailless. A short trail extends up Boulder River for 4.3 miles through old-growth forest. Three short trails climb toward the high crest and peter out. Another trail crosses the northeast corner of the Wilderness over Squire Creek Pass, with outstanding views of the high crest. Total trail miles come to about 25.

Planning to Visit the Boulder River Wilderness?

Leave No Trace

How to follow the seven standard Leave No Trace principles differs in different parts of the country (desert vs. Rocky Mountains). Click on any of the principles listed below to learn more about how they apply in the Boulder River Wilderness.
  1. Plan Ahead and Prepare
  2. Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
  3. Dispose of Waste Properly
  4. Leave What You Find
  5. Minimize Campfire Impacts
  6. Respect Wildlife
  7. Be Considerate of Other Visitors
For more information on Leave No Trace, Visit the Leave No Trace, Inc. website.

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