Access Point to the Norse Peak Wilderness
by Robert Eversole
Government Meadows Horse Camp is the place where I was first introduced to what Back Country Horsemen of Washington do to preserve our trails. BCHW members spend a lot of time and energy maintaining this trailhead and the adjacent Pacific Crest Trail. With multiple camp spots, highlines, and a vault toilet at the trailhead, you can see why this is a popular access point into the Norse Peak Wilderness.
The wilderness area begins a short ride to the south of camp over a well-maintained trail. The only thing lacking at the trailhead is easy access to water.
The Pacific Crest Trail (also known as the PCT or simply the Crest Trail) serves as the primary trail as it runs through the wilderness. A large network of secondary paths that branch off the PCT allow access into many of the more remote areas that are tucked into narrow drainages. Many of these places are hidden below rockbound ridges that slice deeply into the surrounding mountain sides.
As I mentioned, BCHW members are frequent visitors to this trailhead and for good reason. From other trailheads, the trip to the crest part of the PCT means hard work for our mounts. At Government Meadows, your truck will do most the work of gaining elevation. With a fresh horse at the trailhead, the journey south to Airplane Meadow (with its attendant airplane!) and back can be easily accomplished as a day ride with good trail and inspiring views of white capped mountains, green ridges, and blue skies. In places, it feels as if you could reach out and touch the towering peak of Mount Rainier.
Visitors to Government Meadows will notice how well the area is maintained. Various chapters of the Backcountry Horsemen of Washington help support the Crest and supporting trails and are responsible for the park-like trail tread in many areas.
Trailhead Coordinates: 47.084222, -121.403755