Forest Service Requests Public Comments on Future of Ice Caves
Following the recent collapse at the Big Four Ice Caves that left one dead and five injured, officials are asking for public comments to help prevent future tragedies.
In early July, the ice caves at the end of the Big Four Ice Caves trail collapsed, leaving one hiker dead, and five injured. Washington Trails Association is deeply saddened by this incident. Unfortunately, this is not the first time a cave collapse at Big Four has taken a life. Our hearts and thoughts are with those impacted by this accident.
Following the recent collapse at the Big Four Ice Caves, Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest officials are asking for public comments to help prevent future tragedies. For now, the trail to the seasonal caves is closed indefinitely.
It is always tragic when lives are lost in pursuit of outdoor recreation, and WTA is committed to continuing to work with the Forest Service to educate hikers on how to enjoy our great outdoors sustainably and safely.
Help the Forest Service determine the trail's future
The Forest Service is specifically looking to address how access can be provided to sites of natural beauty such as the ice caves and have fewer people ignore the dangers and warning signs.
If you would like to submit ideas for the future of the Big Four Ice Caves trail, you can do so on the Forest Service contact page.
Big Four trail should reopen, but hikers must take precautions, embrace stewardship
As the climate changes and the glaciers recede, the Big Four Ice Caves are one of the few remaining sites where people can easily see these kinds of natural wonders. This trail offers a unique experience and connects us to the way in which water and ice have shaped our region.
Washington Trails Association hopes to see the trail reopened. In a comment letter, WTA provided the following recommendations to the Forest Service:
- Rename the trail "Big Four Ice Caves Viewpoint Trail" to emphasize that the views, not the caves, are the destination.
- Develop interpretive signage along the trail to help educate hikers who might be unfamiliar with the changing nature of ice caves. Some options include adding signs that describe how the caves are formed and why they are unstable. Additionally, signs could talk about the role of hikers as stewards of our public lands.
- Consider adding additional signage at the terminus of the trail noting that the caves are dangerous, such as “Warning: Caves can collapse at any time.”
WTA encourages hikers to use their best judgement and head warnings from land managers. Hiking safely is a tenant of good stewardship. By staying on designated trails, hikers can preserve sensitive habitats and respect the unpredictability of nature in order to preserve high-quality outdoor experiences for the next generation.