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By: Dave Helgeson

Reiter Trails near Gold Bar, WA

Main staging area.
Main staging area.

Roots and rocks is how my son and I describe Reiter Trails to someone that hasn’t ridden there before. Actually there is more variety to Reiter Trails than roots and rocks, but the two pretty much sum up the majority of the area. To round things out, there are some mud holes to play in and some sand hills to climb. The terrain here is a great place to sharpen your riding skills. Children and beginning riders should check out less challenging riding areas in the state.

Currently, Reiter Trails is not an official off-road vehicle area, but that is changing. Recently, Snohomish County, in which the trail system is located, and Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) have reached an agreement to convert the area into a designated off-road vehicle area, which Western Washington desperately needs. Under the agreement, DNR will operate the park while Snohomish County will be responsible for the trailhead. A properly managed and designated ORV area that supports responsible use will help ensure ORV enthusiasts in and around Snohomish County will have a place to enjoy motorized recreation for years to come. If you happen to come across any county or DNR officials while riding in the area, be sure to stop and thank them for supporting responsible ATV use at Reiter Trails.

One of the many watering holes in which to run your ATV through.
One of the many watering holes in which to run your ATV through.



This mud hole easily made this ATV stuck and waiting for help.
This mud hole easily made this ATV stuck and waiting for help.

Now for a better description of what you will find at Reiter Trails. The area has witnessed copper mining, sand and gravel operations, and logging over the past one hundred or so years. Many of the trails are the remnants of roads that supported these activities. Every few years a tree harvest will take place and a road or two will be fixed up only to be left to deteriorate once the harvest is complete. Some of these old roads will take you up to old mines, mill sites, and other mining related ruins. If you are interested in the mining history and ruins in this area, visit the following link: http://nwue.org/archives/2007/04/copper_belle_mi_1.html. Other roads in the area will take you into the deep woods. As mentioned above, some are periodically maintained, others have been abandoned for decades. On the roads that have been abandoned for long periods, you can expect heavy erosion, dense tree cover, rocks, and many exposed tree roots. Keep in mind the area is located in rainy Western Washington so the roots and rocks will most likely be wet and slippery and the puddles full! Some of the “roads” will have you singing “Lions, tigers, and bears, oh my” from the Wizard of Oz as they are dark and gloomy. In addition to the old roads, several transmission lines cross the area. These areas, free of large trees, hold a number of user-made trails and provide moderate trail riding opportunities including the sand hill climb. The main staging area is an old gravel pit. If you like riding on lots of round loose rock, this area is for you. Keep in mind that the whole area is also open to 4x4 vehicles, so most trails are wide enough for 4x4 vehicles to travel, which will also accommodate the larger ATVs on the market. For a map of the currently inventoried 4x4 trails, visit: http://reitertrailwatch.org/forum/showthread.php?t=19. If you would like an awesome view from the top of a 400 ft. cliff, check out the Index Wall trail. Since the area is not currently an official ORV area, there are no trails specifically signed for ATV use. I expect that will change once the area becomes designated. Finally, you will find many user-made trails. Most are through trails and will pop out on other major thoroughfares, but not always! You are welcome to ride on any of the unpaved roads in the area. Please stay off paved Reiter Road. For maps showing the overall area in relief, visit: http://www.mts-offroad.com/photo_album.0.html2.0.html

When to ride:
Reiter Trails is open to riding year around 24/7 provided you have a headlight and taillight for night rides.

A great view from the logging area.
A great view from the logging area.

Where to camp:
Camping is currently allowed anywhere in the surrounding area at no charge. The most popular areas are the main staging area and under the large transmission lines with steel towers. Both are accessible by two-wheel drive vehicles.

Rules and Regulations:

  • All ATVs must be titled and registered, with owners receiving an Off-Road Vehicle use permit and ORV tag to place on their ATV.
  • ATVs shall not be operated between dusk and dawn without a lighted taillight and headlight.
  • No one under age 13 may operate an ATV on or across a highway or road except on a road designated for off-highway vehicle use under direct supervision of a person at least 18 who has a driver's license.

Getting There:
Travel U.S. Hwy 2 just to the southeast outskirts of Gold Bar. Turn north on Reiter Road, and in less than a mile you will come to a split in the road. Continue to your right on Reiter Road. You will soon come to an old gravel pit and a DNR sign welcoming you to Reiter Trails. For your first visit I would suggest starting from this main staging area and exploring what Reiter Trails has to offer. Other staging areas lie under the power lines a mile or so east.

Be safe, enjoy, and I hope to see you on the trails.


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