Sleeping at Trailhead rules/etiquette

General discussions on hiking in Oregon and the Pacific Northwest
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maryannpdx
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Sleeping at Trailhead rules/etiquette

Post by maryannpdx » June 5th, 2019, 7:19 am

Within the boundaries of a National Wilderness Area:
1. Is is allowable to set up a tent at a trailhead?
2. Is it allowable to sleep in your car at a trailhead?
MaryannPDX

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teachpdx
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Re: Sleeping at Trailhead rules/etiquette

Post by teachpdx » June 5th, 2019, 7:56 am

Most of the time, yes... for both.

I've come across a few trailheads have restrictions on camping at the trailhead, and these are usually listed on the FS website. These are usually, but not always, trailheads that are shared with a campground.

You can also check out the MVUM (Motor Vehicle Use Map) for the National Forest of your choice and it shows which roads allow dispersed camping. If your trailhead is on a road that allows dispersed camping, you're definitely good to go.

There may be different rules for different jurisdictions (NPS/FS/BLM/DNR) so just look it up before you go.

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BigBear
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Re: Sleeping at Trailhead rules/etiquette

Post by BigBear » June 5th, 2019, 8:21 am

Which trailhead? Many trailheads have "no camping" signs while others have designated campgrounds at the trailhead.

justpeachy
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Re: Sleeping at Trailhead rules/etiquette

Post by justpeachy » June 5th, 2019, 10:05 am

Within the boundaries of a National Wilderness Area:
1. Is is allowable to set up a tent at a trailhead?
2. Is it allowable to sleep in your car at a trailhead?
Trailheads themselves are never inside the wilderness boundary because cars are not allowed in designated wilderness. Many national forest trailheads do not have room to pitch a tent, but I've seen plenty where there would be space to do so. If the trailhead is in the Field Guide you can get a sense for how things look from the photo. You can also use Google Earth to scope things out.

As others have mentioned, check the Forest Service website for the trailhead you're wondering about and try calling the ranger station too (although they frequently don't have the answers to questions like that). If the hike is in one of the William Sullivan books he will sometimes mention camping availability for trailheads. If you slept in your car one night at a trailhead and left a clean camp, the chances are very high that no one is going to notice or care.

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-Q-
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Re: Sleeping at Trailhead rules/etiquette

Post by -Q- » June 5th, 2019, 11:32 am

I have slept in my truck at tons of trailheads up and down the Cascades.
You are pretty much good to go at the majority of them.
Do you have a specific trailhead in mind??

squeakytree
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Re: Sleeping at Trailhead rules/etiquette

Post by squeakytree » June 5th, 2019, 7:42 pm

I'm not sure about other organizations, but the Forest Service generally doesn't allow dispersed camping at any developed recreation sites, which includes campgrounds, picnic areas and trailheads. This is partly for practical reasons at trailheads. If it was an acceptable area for dispersed camping, and anyone go to a trailhead and pitch their tents, then there may not be anywhere for the hikers who want to use the trail to park. If you are just sleeping in your car for the night, it's pretty low profile and usually it's not an issue that's going to cause concern. Like many others, I've done this many times myself. The only time I've pitched a tent near a forest service trailhead has been at less popular sites where there was pretty minimal use and my tent wasn't obvious from the parking area. Of course, the dispersed camping regulations usually say you have to be 100 feet from the trail/trailhead, so I guess if you walk down the trail 100 feet and pitch your tent, you are now legally in a dispersed backcountry site.

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drm
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Re: Sleeping at Trailhead rules/etiquette

Post by drm » June 6th, 2019, 6:25 am

As BigBear said, it's allowed as long as their is no sign prohibiting it, and there are quite a few signs prohibiting it. There are probably some rules, such as not being in the road or something, I don't know what those are.

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retired jerry
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Re: Sleeping at Trailhead rules/etiquette

Post by retired jerry » June 6th, 2019, 7:00 am

Sometimes rather than camping at trailhead I'll camp at a nearby campground or dispersed spot. Too much traffic and people at trailhead. Usually, a nearby campground or dispersed spot will have a better campsite.

Aimless
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Re: Sleeping at Trailhead rules/etiquette

Post by Aimless » June 6th, 2019, 7:56 pm

As for the "etiquette" portion of your question, just apply the principles of Leave No Trace to your chosen camping site and you'll be well within the required etiquette. No trash, including micro trash. No chopping trees or logs, or making new fire rings. No disturbance to the plant life in general. Just stay, then go, leaving no evidence that you came or went.

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