▶️ Permitting Patience: DNF officials say plan ahead for summer hikes

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The second phase of a system designed to reduce human impacts in Cascade Mountain wilderness areas began Friday with the sale of day-use permits through an online portal.

It means folks who just want to take a day hike to Green Lakes, Broken Top or Tam McArthur Rim will need to obtain permits in advance.

The number of day-use permits are limited to reduce crowding in the backcountry.

Beginning next Friday, permits are required on 19 of the most popular trails leading into the Three Sisters, Mount Washington and Mount Jefferson Wilderness Areas.

Most of the wilderness trailheads close to Bend including Broken Top, Green Lakes, Soda Creek, Devils Lake and South Sister now require wilderness permits purchased in advance through Recreation.gov.

“Seven-day rolling window means that you can reserve permit reservations for anytime for within 7 days,” said Jean Nelson-Dean, Deschutes National Forest Public Information Officer. “For example, if you want to hike on July 8, you can make your permit reservations on July 1.”

In the first hour day-use permits were available Friday, 20 new reservations were made for 59 people who intend to day hike next Friday, May 28.

Day use permits cost a dollar per person to reserve.

“Plan ahead to log on early the day you want to make reservations. Do a search for central Cascades and all your options pop up. You can search by trail or availability by date,” Nelson-Dean said.

When sales of permits for overnight and extended trips in the local wilderness areas began in April they were as popular as tickets to Yosemite National Park.

Forest officials say use of the most popular trails in the local wildernesses has increased 300 to 500% in the past 5 years.

“Green Lakes, for example, 80 permits open up every day,” Nelson-Dean said. “There’s still a lot of opportunities for people to get out. You might have to plan a little bit ahead.”

Fifty other trails which are a bit farther out, offer free, self-issue permits at the trailheads.

The permit system begins the Friday before Memorial Day and ends on the last Friday in September.

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