Changes to Public Parking on Eightmile Road; ‘No Parking’ Signs Going Up

Photos Credit: USDA Forest Service / Mason Schuur.

While traveling up the Eightmile Road, just southwest of the town of Leavenworth, WA, forest visitors are surrounded by beautiful views of the Icicle River valley, majestic mountains, and challenging terrain.  On some days, the biggest challenge can be finding a place to park, as motorists must wend their way through cars parked alongside the road, sometimes even blocking the narrow roadway to two-way traffic.

To lessen the parking congestion, increase visitor safety, facilitate emergency vehicle access, and alleviate impacts to infrastructure and natural resources, Forest Service staff will implement a change in public parking along Forest Service Eightmile Road No. 7601 starting September 3, 2019.

It is not uncommon to encounter parked cars on both sides of this one-lane road from Stuart Lake to Eightmile Lake Trailhead and beyond, especially on weekends and holidays. This creates public safety issues and concerns as it relates to the ingress/egress for emergency vehicles, to conflicts between motorized vehicle users accessing the trailheads, and pedestrians walking the road to and from the trailheads.

“We are also seeing public health concerns due to over use of toilet facilities, people defecating on the ground at the trailheads and adjacent forest areas, and an increase in litter,” Wenatchee River Ranger District Recreation Program Manager Les Moscoso said.

The Stuart Lake and Eightmile Lake Trailheads provide access to some of the most popular recreation areas in the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest and are simply exploding in popularity. “The demand for vehicle parking has increased exponentially as the popularity of the Enchantments area of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness has ballooned in the past decade,” Moscoso said. “With the current situation, parking for emergency response vehicles and search and rescue volunteers is severely affected by the overly congested parking at the trailheads.”

This month, national forest staff will begin installing ‘No Parking’ signs and increase public education efforts in the Eightmile Road corridor as traffic is displaced to other nearby areas that do not create public safety or facility capacity issues.

“The ‘No Parking’ restriction will affect the entire length of Road 7601. Signs will be posted at Bridge Creek and along the road itself to inform and remind visitors about this change,” Moscoso said.

“Safety of the public and our employees is the number one consideration in everything we do,” said District Ranger Jeff Rivera. It simply isn’t safe to allow folks to continue parking in such a way that limits emergency access and management. This action will reduce the public health and safety concerns that currently exist near and at both trailheads while continuing to provide access to resources and experiences that promote economic, ecological, and social vitality.”

The public will still have full access to public lands through Stuart Lake and Eightmile Trailheads, they just need to plan accordingly and arrive early or mid-week when it’s less crowded.

Those who can’t find parking at these trailheads when they are full can also park at one of several pull-outs that provide access for camping. “There is limited parking in the pull-outs, so people should have alternate plans in mind in case all parking areas are full,” Moscoso said. “It may behoove people to consider carpooling or having someone shuttle you to the trailheads to further reduce impacts and overcrowding. There are also other access points to other areas of the same Wilderness as well,” he added.

“Our staff will be interacting with forest users, explaining why these changes are occurring. Our intent is to focus on education and awareness this year, but we are prepared to issue tickets should that become absolutely necessary,” Rivera said.

“It’s important to take care of our natural resources by protecting them today to ensure they’ll still be here to provide for future generations,” Rivera added.

This article was originally published on the USDA Forest Service website and can be seen HERE.

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