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USFS hopes to open Cloud Cap Road ‘soon’

The U.S. Forest Service is aiming to have Cloud Cap Road open this season for the first time in over a year, which has been closed since 2013 due to dead trees finally toppling years after they were burned in a wildfire in the Mt. Hood National Forest.

USFS hasn’t yet set the exact date of the road’s opening, which is dependent on when a project to remove the dead trees, called snags, is completed.

“They’re definitely at the tail end of the project,” said Chris Bentley, public affairs specialist for the Mt. Hood National Forest. “It should be open soon.”

Usually, USFS opens the road, which accesses popular hiking areas on the north face of Mt. Hood, in the late spring after the winter snows melt. Last year, however, the road remained closed due to the hazard prevented by trees burned in the 2008 Gnarl Ridge fire that were weakening and falling onto or near the roadway.

The closure caused USFS to cancel guided tours planned for the summer of 2013 at the historic Cloud Cap Inn, located near the terminus of the road. USFS had planned to offer the tours again this summer, anticipating Cloud Cap Road would be open by July 27, but as of now, those are on hold.

Work began last fall on felling the approximately 5,000 snags after USFS secured funding for the project. According to Bentley, work ceased during the winter and only resumed in mid-June once the snow finally melted and the ground dried. After crews finish felling the snags, the logs then need to be decked and hauled out of the forest.

Bentley did say the road would be open this season, but did not offer a more specific date.

“We’re just telling the public we’re going to open the road as soon as it’s safe to do so,” he explained.

Reservations for the Cloud Cap Inn tours are closed, but Bentley said USFS is honoring the reservations that have already been made. Tours are usually conducted on Sundays, but Bentley said Saturday tours may be added and the tour season may be extended as well, depending on road conditions.

Once a definite opening date is known, Bentley said USFS will post the information on its website. For more information and announcements regarding Cloud Cap Road, go to www.fs.usda.gov/mthood.

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