Did you know Washington state has a whopping 31 wilderness areas? Only Alaska, California and Arizona have more wilderness acres than Washington.
What brings them all together under one label of "Wilderness" is the common trait they all share: Wilderness is land set aside by Congress, where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by people, and where people themselves are visitors who do not remain. The Wilderness Act, which grants power to Congress to permanently protect such areas, became law in 1964.
It's what sets them apart that makes them so special, though. I've hiked in 14 of Washington's wilderness areas, and I always make an effort to take note of the unique attributes of each one, such as the wildflowers that carpet the meadows in the Goat Rocks Wilderness, or the amazing sunrises to be enjoyed from the east slope of the Olympics in the Buckhorn Wilderness.
While bigger and better-known wilderness areas like the Alpine Lakes or Glacier Peak see tens of thousands of visitors each year, some of the smaller and lesser-known wilderness areas get only a fraction of the attention -- and the visitors. For a nifty profile of six of these lesser-known Wilderness Areas, check out Hidden Wild: Journey to Washington’s lesser-known wilderness areas for a welcome change of pace. Written by guidebook authors Joan Burton and Craig Romano and WTA's Andy Engelson, Hidden Wild was published in the July-August issue of Washington Trails magazine.
If you're tired of the summer weekend crowds that make trails feel a bit too much like highways in parts of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, maybe it's time to check out one of these more obscure wilderness areas. Discover for yourself what big rewards are packed into in our state's hidden pockets of wild.