USFS free backpacking for families offered

The U.S. Forest Service is offering two free backpacking trips into Gordon Lakes for families with youngsters over the age of 8.

The first trip is July 27-29 and the second is Aug. 18-20. Registration and the whole trip is free. “Our goal is to get kids and their families out into the woods,” said organizer K.C. Briggs of the Sweet Home Ranger District.

Support for the program comes from South Santiam Watershed Council, Eugene REI, the Sweet Home Community Foundation and Mountain House foods. Equipment and food will be provided.

For more information or to sign up, contact Briggs as soon as possible at 367-3492 or by e-mail at [email protected].

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Hikers will encounter a temporary closure of all trails leading to the summit of Iron Mountain for one day during either the last week in July or first week in August as construction of a new viewing platform continues.

Iron Mountain Trail, Cone Peak Trail and sections of surrounding trails will be closed for several hours due to public safety concerns.

Contract crews will be using a helicopter to transport building materials to the summit; closure signs and staff will be posted along affected trails during helicopter operations.

A temporary closure of the site, which was once occupied by the Iron Mountain Lookout, has been in effect since last September when construction began. Forest Service recreation staff designed the platform to enhance hiking and wildlife-viewing opportunities available atop Iron Mountain. Construction of the new platform is expected to be completed by the end of the summer.

For more information please contact the Sweet Home Ranger District at367-5168. Trail condition updates are available on the Willamette National Forest website at