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Mary’s Corner to Upper Naches Valley

  • Distance: 117 miles
  • Routes: SR 7
  • Estimated Driving time: 2.5 hours

The flats and the lower Cowlitz Valley, settlement of which dates back to 1850, is a checkerboard of small orchards, grain fields, and pastures dotted with Jersey and Holstein cattle. Farther eastward, the road runs through logged-off lands, partially overgrown by alder and willow and interspersed with stump farms. In the foothills the valley narrows between slopes covered with virgin forests of Douglas fir and hemlock, broken with patches of cutover and occasional black forest burns. Few settlers penetrated the foothills until the nineties, and even today most of the isolated villages have retained an almost rustic simplicity.

The tour continues over White Pass. In the 1930s the road ended on the west side of the cascades, but was extended over the pass. This 4,500 foot pass is between the headwaters of the Clear Fork of the Cowlitz River on the west and the Tieton Basin on the east in Lewis and Yakima counties. It was named for Charles W. White, a civil engineer, who discovered the saddle while working for the Northern Pacific Railway Company. He later laid out the streets of New Tacoma, Washington which is now downtown Tacoma.

The White Pass Scenic Byway is an exceptional driving destination, offering travelers experiences of wildlife, outstanding scenic and natural landscapes, and outdoor recreation.

The White Pass Scenic Byway is Washington State’s best roadway for wildlife watching opportunities

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The salt-box shaped Lindeman House stands on its original location in the open countryside of Lacamas Prairie near the small, unincorporated community of Ethel. Erected in 1886 by Paul C. Lindeman, the house remains as one of the oldest pioneer type structures still standing in the state. Modifications have been few and relatively insignificant. The well cared for Lindeman House is particularly outstanding for illustrating the techniques, skills, and adaptability...

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Mile: 73

At one time Salkum had two saw-mills and was a lively town, but timber depletion closed the mills and the settlement declined. The Native American name means "boiling," and refers to the turbulent waters at the falls of nearby Mill Creek. A post office was established October 10, 1882 and moved to a new site on May 5, 1890 which was two miles north of the original location. By the...

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Mile: 79

The bridge affords a vantage point from which to see Mayfield Reservoir, prior to the dam the view from the bridge was of the green, swirling waters of the Cowlitz River splashing between walls of varicolored rock. The lake covers about 2,200 acres and has a maximum depth of 185 ft. It was built by the City of Tacoma and named for the town of Mayfield and is more generally...

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Mile: 82

It is the site of a City of Tacoma hydroelectric dam and the new city of Mayfield. Platted as a large town, it did not develop. The original town of Mayfield was flooded when the dam was construction. The original town was named for the first postmaster, H. T. Mayfield, who opened a post office in 1890. Prior to construction of the dam this town consisted of a few old...

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Mile: 83

Named by the early settlers in 1852 for the crag which rises 200 feet above Klickitat Prairie. In 1855-6 when the Klickitats made their way through the mountain passes to the east, the few settlers temporarily abandoned their homes. By the 1940s the town was a supply point and distribution center for the area. Today, Mossyrock maintains a small business district and the community is served by a high school...

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Completion of the Mossy Rock Dam flooded the valley creating Riffe Lake. The dam is the tallest in the state. The power generated by the dam supplies 40 percent of Tacoma’s electric needs. Plans were announced in 1948 but met with strong opposition. The City of Tacoma went before the US Supreme Court three times in order to get the dam approved. Construction started in 1965 and completed in 1968....

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Mile: 90

At the Riffe Lake overlook is an interpretive marker that tells the story of how Mossyrock Dam’s construction in 1968 flooded the last remnants of Riffe and Kosmos, which were located where Riffe Lake is now. The Riffe original town center marks the former town center. Prior to construction of the dam, the valley featured farms that alternated with patches of second-growth timber and cutover lands, brilliant with flaming maple,...

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Points of Interest
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Riff

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Kosmos

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Nesika

Tour winds through timbered hills, into which run several logging roads. The road is bordered by clusters of white and purple fox glove, patches of daisies, milkweed, and scattered beds of California poppies. Cutover areas and heavy stands of maple, fir, and cedar alternate, as the road winds over the ridges, then down toward the valley bottoms. The tour passes through the Morton Cinnabar Mining district which once produced the...

Learn more about Highland Creek

Mile: 94

Located at the foot of Cutler Mountain, a high, forested, loaf-shaped bluff, sprawls along the highway and the tracks of the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad at the edge of the Tilton River Valley. It was an enterprising town, named after Benjamin Harrison’s Vice President, Levi P. Morton and by the 1940s earned most of its income from logging operations in the adjacent forests and the milling of...

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Mile: 98

The tour runs through a sparsely settled lowland, hemmed in by steep hills, serrated, and in spots heavily forested. In the grassy valley are old homesteads. Rickety snake fences border the road, and here and there are battened or tar-papered shacks. Cattle graze in tree-studded pastures, lush with clover, whose fragrance permeates the air in the spring. In early summer, occasional patches of blossoming mustard, brilliantly yellow, are to be...

Learn more about Rainy Valley

Mile: 103

This area of farms is southeast of Morton on Uden Frost Creek. The name was composed by Mrs. Beverly W. Coiner, a settler who later lived in Tacoma. She used glen for the valley, and the Greek word oma for fruitful; hence, fruitful valley. Earlier names, for which no source has been found, were Vern and Verndale. By the 1940s the town consisted of a cluster of houses, brick and...

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Mile: 104

The tour leaves the open bottom lands and passes through thin forests that have been cut over, bordering the road. In the 1940s, just off the road, small tie-cutting outfits, were operated by crews of two or three, and found it possible to compete with large-scale production. At the base of the foothills or on their slopes, pyramids of yellow sawdust or piles of freshly cut ties mark the locations...

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Mile: 108

The foothills are still virgin wilderness, well-nigh inaccessible. Deer and bear are plentiful, and cougar not infrequently invade the barnyards of isolated farms. In the 1940s, a well-known old timer, Cougar Bill who lived on Kiona Creek, kept a pack of hounds to track down cougar, an occupation which was both recreation and profit for him, the bounty and the pelts yielded a modest income. When possible he takes his...

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Mile: 111

Heavy forests extending down the hills from Watch Mountain overshadow the highway. Today, these hills are mostly logged off. In the surrounding hills backwoods people from Virginia, Kentucky, and Tennessee have settled. Their nasal drawl and old-fashioned Anglicisms, their primitive shacks, and packs of hounds, their wild abandon at Saturday night dances in the valley, and fervent evangelistic sermons on Sundays, give the region a strong frontier flavor. Money never...

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Mile: 113

Founded in 1886 by the Randle Logging Company, and today the mill, with a daily capacity of 35,000 feet, it remained the center of the town’s activity through the 1940s. As land has been cleared, agriculture and dairying became increasingly important occupations of the surrounding country. A cheese plant operating through the 1940s gave employment to some of the town’s inhabitants and affords a market for surplus milk. Today, Randle...

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Points of Interest
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Randle Ranger Station

Mile: 115

Named for William Packwood, who came from Virginia to the Pacific Coast in 1844 and took a donation land claim in Thurston County in the fifties. He gained considerable reputation as an explorer, and as late as 1889 was a familiar figure along the trails with his string of pack horses. It is said that he would guide a party anywhere in the region for $2.50. The town of Packwood,...

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Mile: 131

Formerly known as the Clear Fork Guard Station it is at the confluence of the Clear Fork and Ohanapecosh (deep blue pool) Rivers. The latter stream widens into a sapphire basin before uniting with the Clear Fork. The guard station, built in 1928, is in La Wis Wis Campground. La Wis Wis Guard Station typifies the construction projects undertaken by the Civilian Conservation Corps and signifies the aid to the...

Learn more about La Wis Wis Guard Station No. 1165

The road once ended at the junction with the Cowlitz Pass Trail to the Summit Lakes, small lakes surrounded by meadows on a plateau 4,500 feet or more in elevation. Good campsites and fishing spots were available on Jug, Deerhead, Dumbell, and Frying Pan Lakes. This was literally the end of the road in the 1930s, before the rest of the road over and down the east side was constructed.

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Mile: 138

Views down into Ayance Canyon with the Clear Fork river at the base of the canyon. The Clear Fork of the Cowlitz River rises below Packwood Saddle and Tieton Pass and flows north and then northwest to join the Ohanapecosch River south of the southern boundary of Mount Rainier National Park above where the Muddy Fork of the Cowlitz River joins to create the Cowlitz. The Muddy Fork comes from...

Learn more about Palisades Viewpoint

Mile: 141

Views of Goat Rocks and Mount Rainier from the viewpoint. Goat Rocks rise to an 8,201 foot elevation east of the Cascades. An old Native American legend tells that La-Con-Nie was God of the Goat Rocks and herded wild goats in the area. This wild, rugged country was once inhabited by many of these animals. These are within the Goat Rocks Primitive Area. This high, rugged, and scenic area with...

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Mile: 148

On the north slope of Bethel Ridge at the head of the Little Rattlesnake Creek. It was named for a sheep herder who introduced himself around as "Cash, better known as Short and Dirty." Short and Dirty Creek and Ridge on the South Fork of the Tieton River are named for him. Tieton Basin extends out south of the road, with Kloochman (also Klockman) Rock and the smaller Chimney Peaks...

Learn more about Cash Prairie

Mile: 168

Tour follows the Tieton River down to its juncture with the Naches River Two Native American names apply to the Tieton River. East of the Cascades, the common name in use was Shanwappum, meaning milky water, and was appropriate for this glacial river. The present name is a corruption of Taitinapam, which relates to a tribe in Cowlitz River Valley on the west slope of Cascades, who spoke the Yakama...

Learn more about Tieton River

Mile: 178

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