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U.S. Forest Service

Pacific Northwest Region Viewing Area


rock rose Rocky cliffs along the trail support populations of rock rose (Lewisia tweedyi). Photo by Brigitte Ranne.

diamond clarkia On a spring hike along the trail the visitor can admire such favorites as diamond clarkia (Clarkia rhomboidea). Photo by Terry Lillybridge.

small bluebells Additional species found in the low elevation shrublands include small bluebells (Mertensia longiflora). Photo by Terry Lillybridge.

wax currant One of the common shrub species found within low elevation ponderosa pine/Douglas-fir woodlands include wax currant (Ribes cereum). Photo by Terry Lillybridge.

Mad River Trail

Forest: Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest

District: Entiat Ranger District

Description: The Entiat Ranger District encompasses a diversity of plant habitats. From the arid shrub-steppe communities adjacent to the Columbia River, plants climb the east slope of the Cascade Mountains to alpine fellfields and quiet tarns in glacial cirques at the Cascade Crest. The Mad River Trail stretches 20 miles from the low elevation ecosystems of the Mad River near the confluence with the Entiat River to high elevation subalpine meadows including Mad Meadows near Mad Lake. The trailhead is located in the lovely Pine Flats campground – with beautiful old ponderosa pines and many native wildflowers scattered around the quiet campsites. The lower part of the trail makes a pleasant out-and-back day trip during the spring season. The first three miles of the trail follow the Mad River through a narrow, rocky canyon where rock outcrops, streamside, and upland habitats are all visible from the trail. Much of the Mad River drainage was burned in the 1994 Tyee Fire, providing the opportunity for visitors to observe fire scars on old ponderosa pines, wildlife use of the dead trees, pools created by recent down woody debris (logs) in the riverine ecosystems, and the flowering plant recovery following wildfire.

Viewing Information: Rocky cliffs along the trail support populations of rock rose (Lewisia tweedyi), one of the most beautiful plants in the Northwest. Also present are rock-loving plants such as Heuchera cylindrica and many small ferns, mosses, and lichens. On the dry upland areas along the trail the hiker can admire dry forest favorites such as arrowleaf balsamroot (Balsamorhiza sagittata), diamond clarkia (Clarkia_rhomboidea), small bluebells (Mertensia longiflora), and silky lupine (Lupinus sericeus). The moister riparian habitats support a wealth flowering shrubs, including three species of wild rose (Rosa woodsii, Rosa nutkana, and Rosa gymnocarpa), thimbleberry (Rubus parviflorus), and snowberry (Symphoricarpos albus). Cottonwoods and western redcedar grow along the swift little river, while ponderosa pine, Douglas-fir, and wax currant (Ribes cereum) grace the dry slopes above.

Safety First: Rattlesnakes, yellow jackets, and black bears are potential hazards. The area was burned in the 1994 Tyee Fire, so watch for snags and do not plan a camp along the trail. Drive defensively on the Forest Service roads – drive slowly and stay on the right side of the road, especially on blind corners. The campground has potable water. The trail stays close to the Mad River; the river water should be filtered or otherwise purified before use. Please call the Entiat Ranger District (509-784-1511) to check conditions before you visit.

Directions: Take Highway 97 ALT north from Wenatchee, Washington, about 17 miles to the Entiat River Road just after the bridge across the Entiat River (approx. 17 miles). Follow the Entiat River Road NW approximately 10 miles to the Mad River Road. The Mad River Road (119A) becomes a one lane, paved Forest Service Road (5700). Follow it to the Pine Flats Campground. The Mad River trailhead is in the campground.

Closest Town: Wenatchee, Washington.