'By 7:45 a.m., it was clear there was very little (permits) left'
BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Beginning May 28, the Willamette and Deschutes national forests will require permits for 19 of their most popular wilderness trails. But first, you need to get a permit, and some are already frustrated trying to do so, on the very first day.
The new Central Cascades Wilderness Permit System went live at 7 a.m. on Tuesday morning, with 20-50% of the season permits being released.
In a rush perhaps symbolic of the levels of trail use that prompted the system's creation, not everyone who wanted to get a permit was able to -- and that caused some frustration among avid hikers.
Bend resident Susan Long told NewsChannel 21 she took the day off from work to try to obtain permits for her favorite summer hiking trails, but found that many of the permits were already gone.
“By 7:45 a.m., it was clear there was very little left,” she said.
Susan Stanaway also reached out to NewsChannel 21 later Tuesday to voice her frustration in trying to get a permit for backpacking.
"The website was NOT easy to navigate," she said in an email, "and while I wanted a permit for five days, it only gave me a permit for one day."
Stanaway said she'd heard from others with similar issues and "ended up with stupid one-day backpacking permits. So frustrating!"
Jean Nelson-Dean, public affairs officer on the Deschutes National Forest, said the need for a permit system arose from trail use steadily rising for the past 10 years.
“It was damaging trails. We were dealing with tons of human waste, dog waste,” Nelson-Dean said.
Among all the wilderness trails, the three most popular on the Deschutes are the Green Lakes, Devils Lake, and Tam McArthur Rim. A total of 50-80% of the permits will be available on a 7-day rolling window.
Long said, "I realize they will be selling permits the week of. But that means -- and I talked with several friends -- getting up and being on that computer the moment that week opens up.”
Nelson-Dean said if people are having too much trouble trying to obtain the permits online, she suggests calling the forest offices.
“The other way they can do it is to work with people at our front desk," she said. "So they can call anyone of our front desks in the Deschutes or Willamette national forest and work with them to get a reservation.”
Nelson-Dean said she also wanted to make it clear that people who are planning to stay overnight in the Mount Jefferson, Mount Washington or Three Sisters wildernesses areas need to select a permit for each day they plan on staying.
The wilderness permit reservation system will be in place until Sept. 24.