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William O. Douglas Wilderness

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The United States Congress designated the William O. Douglas Wilderness (map) in 1984 and it now has a total of 168,956 acres. All of this wilderness is located in Washington and is managed by the Forest Service. The William O. Douglas Wilderness is bordered by the Mount Rainier Wilderness to the west and the Norse Peak Wilderness to the north.


This magnificent region pays tribute to the Wilderness-loving Supreme Court justice who often explored the area on foot. It lies bordered to the west by Mount Rainier National Park, with Norse Peak and Goat Rocks Wildernesses just to the north and south, respectively. Non-Wilderness roads drive into the area from the north, up Bumping River to a non-Wilderness central section around Bumping Lake. From the lake, the wild terrain rises west and east to high, broad ridges capped with rock summits. Subalpine meadows and thick old-growth forestland of fir, hemlock, and cedar distinguish the lower elevations. Beyond the east ridge, the land descends to open ridges and tall ponderosa pine. The southern portion of the Wilderness spreads out into a large park-like plateau, where the forest thins and 59 lakes lie among another 200 or so ponds and pools. You may see members of large herds of elk and mule deer, who reside here with fishers and foxes, mountain goats and grouse. As much as 120 inches of precipitation per year drowns the western side of the area, while the eastern side may get as little as 20 to 24 inches. Snow usually starts to fall by November, and often lingers in patches up high until midsummer. Sixty-six trails crisscross the Wilderness for a total of about 250 miles, providing access to just about everything the Wilderness has to offer. All but two trails are open to horsepackers (the exceptions being the Spring Trail and the Goat Peak Trail). Indeed, the land may be best appreciated from a saddle. The Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) traces the western ridge and rambles across the southern plateau for a total of 13.5 miles.

Planning to Visit the William O. Douglas 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 William O. Douglas 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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