The United States Forest Service recently announced it has lifted the closure order for Cloud Cap Road located on the northeastern flank of Mount Hood in the Hood River Ranger District of the Mt. Hood National Forest.
The 9-mile forest service road, which provides vehicular access to popular attractions such as the historic Cloud Cap Inn and the Tilly Jane cabin, was closed in July 2013 over concerns that trees killed by the 2008 Gnarl Ridge fire would finally topple and fall across the road. The closure, which banned road access by all methods of travel, canceled plans made by the forest service to guide tours at Cloud Cap Inn last summer.
Logging operations commenced in October to fall the approximately 5,000 trees located within 50 feet of either side of the road that may have posed a potential danger to passersby. The logs will be decked this spring and hauled out of the forest to be used in streams for fish restoration projects.
Though the closure order has been lifted, Cloud Cap Road frequently remains impassible by car until late spring due to the snow and road conditions. The forest service often gates roads to prevent intrepid motorists from traveling on them.
Janeen Tervo, district ranger for the Hood River Ranger District, advised that the road may be periodically closed again throughout the spring, although the time and duration of the closure isn’t known at this point.
“In order to make sure the contractor can complete the work, we may need to manage traffic,” Tervo said.
“I want to keep [the closure] as simple as possible and make sure the road is open as much as possible,” she added.
Tervo also wanted people to be aware that “hazard trees are still present” outside of the 50-foot buffer on either side of Cloud Cap Road and hikers should exercise caution when entering the forest. The Gnarl Ridge fire, which was started by lightning, ended up burning over 500 acres.
Tervo expected work on decking and hauling out the logs would begin in April and the road would be fully open by the end of June, but added that timetable was contingent on how long it takes for the snow to melt and for the machines to be able to get up the road.
“It’s really dependent on the contactor and when the road dries out,” she said. “Mother Nature is the driver.”