By: Dave Helgeson
Reiter Trails near Gold Bar, WA
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
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.
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:
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:
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,
When to ride:
Reiter Trails is open to riding year around 24/7
provided you have a headlight and taillight for
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.
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