Go Back  Bike Forums > Bike Forums > Touring
Reload this Page >

Trespassing/Stealth Camping in Washington State

Touring Have a dream to ride a bike across your state, across the country, or around the world? Self-contained or fully supported? Trade ideas, adventures, and more in our bicycle touring forum.

Trespassing/Stealth Camping in Washington State

Old 08-08-12, 02:45 PM
  #1  
fourmajor
Newbie
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 2
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Trespassing/Stealth Camping in Washington State

Hi everyone,

Thanks for this high-quality forum. As my wife and I prepare for our bike tour, this is an excellent resource.

I was wondering if anyone knew about stealth camping in Washington State. The law for Washington State states:

(1) A person is guilty of criminal trespass in the second degree if he or she knowingly enters or remains unlawfully in or upon premises of another under circumstances not constituting criminal trespass in the first degree.

(2) Criminal trespass in the second degree is a misdemeanor.
That seems pretty clear to me, unless there is some ambiguity about "premises." But, what are everyone's experiences with reality? Is it a problem to not get caught? Are police officers friendly about letting you camp in a park? Do people generally let you sleep in their yards if you ask? And has anyone ever been caught in a bind in Washington with no place to stay?

We're keeping more to the coast, with this being our route as planned so far.

Thanks everyone.

- Stu
fourmajor is offline  
Old 08-08-12, 03:04 PM
  #2  
Doug64
Senior Member
 
Doug64's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Oregon
Posts: 5,453
Mentioned: 28 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 755 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 9 Times in 8 Posts
Stu,

Do you have specific reasons for visiting the specific cities on your route. The route seems to be sort of convoluted,e.g., Portland to Lincoln City, back to Corvallis, and then back to the coast. You end you crossing the Coast Range twice. Not a big deal, but the routes are often busy and once is usually enough for most folks.

There are some better routes (scenery and camping) if all those cities are not on your "must" list.

In my limited experience with wild camping (I only do it out of necessity, and I'm not stealthy about it) in WA, as long as the timbered tracts are not posted "No Trespassing", I've not had a problem. However, because of all the wildfire activity going on, landowners might be more sensitive. A slight modification of your route will put you near WA and OR state parks that have Hiker/biker sites that are inexpensive, and have showers.

Doug
Doug64 is offline  
Old 08-08-12, 03:07 PM
  #3  
Carbonfiberboy 
just another gosling
 
Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Everett, WA
Posts: 14,797

Bikes: CoMo Speedster 2003, Trek 5200, CAAD 9, Fred 2004

Mentioned: 82 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1717 Post(s)
Liked 13 Times in 11 Posts
"knowingly" is the key. Let's not call it "stealth," rather use the word "wild." Stealth isn't an issue. You shouldn't be trying to hide from anyone. That would imply "knowingly" wouldn't it? So don't camp anywhere that's posted or cross a fence line. Don't camp anywhere it looks like you might get in trouble. Simple.
Carbonfiberboy is offline  
Old 08-08-12, 03:49 PM
  #4  
SweetLou
Senior Member
 
SweetLou's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 2,114
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
I am a bit confused on what you want to know. Stealth camping is perfectly legal in Washington. Criminal trespassing is when you are "unlawfully" on the premises.
RCW 9A.52.010 (5) states:
(5) "Enters or remains unlawfully." A person "enters or remains unlawfully" in or upon premises when he or she is not then licensed, invited, or otherwise privileged to so enter or remain.

A license or privilege to enter or remain in a building which is only partly open to the public is not a license or privilege to enter or remain in that part of a building which is not open to the public. A person who enters or remains upon unimproved and apparently unused land, which is neither fenced nor otherwise enclosed in a manner designed to exclude intruders, does so with license and privilege unless notice against trespass is personally communicated to him or her by the owner of the land or some other authorized person, or unless notice is given by posting in a conspicuous manner. Land that is used for commercial aquaculture or for growing an agricultural crop or crops, other than timber, is not unimproved and apparently unused land if a crop or any other sign of cultivation is clearly visible or if notice is given by posting in a conspicuous manner. Similarly, a field fenced in any manner is not unimproved and apparently unused land. A license or privilege to enter or remain on improved and apparently used land that is open to the public at particular times, which is neither fenced nor otherwise enclosed in a manner to exclude intruders, is not a license or privilege to enter or remain on the land at other times if notice of prohibited times of entry is posted in a conspicuous manner.
So, if where you want to sleep is unused and unimproved with no notices and no one told you that you can't be there, it is lawful. You have license and privilege to be there.
SweetLou is offline  
Old 08-08-12, 03:57 PM
  #5  
fietsbob 
coprolite
 
fietsbob's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: NW,Oregon Coast
Posts: 40,893

Bikes: 8

Mentioned: 182 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 6551 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 62 Times in 56 Posts
If you can set up and break down camp when it's dark ..

now going to Bangor and taking a Big hammer to a Trident missle ,
is another thing..
fietsbob is offline  
Old 08-08-12, 04:10 PM
  #6  
jamawani 
Hooked on Touring
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: Wyoming
Posts: 2,594
Mentioned: 5 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 180 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 4 Times in 4 Posts
State Forests
County Parks
Fishing Access Sites

Not technically "stealth" but often free or very cheap.
Requires a bit of homework.
jamawani is offline  
Old 08-08-12, 04:29 PM
  #7  
Jude
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: West Philly, PA
Posts: 595
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Nothing wrong with stealth. Even if there's nothing illicit or sneaky about the campsite, plenty of people don't like the idea of being discovered or disturbed in the middle of the night.
Jude is offline  
Old 08-08-12, 04:29 PM
  #8  
zoltani
sniffin' glue
 
zoltani's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Seattle
Posts: 3,182

Bikes: Surly crosscheck ssfg, Custom vintage french racing bike, Bruce Gordon Rock & Road

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
The problem I see with wild camping in washington is the ground cover, it is often so thick it is hard to find a spot for a tent. Now if you have a hammock then it is a different story.
zoltani is offline  
Old 08-08-12, 04:37 PM
  #9  
Jude
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: West Philly, PA
Posts: 595
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by zoltani View Post
The problem I see with wild camping in washington is the ground cover, it is often so thick it is hard to find a spot for a tent. Now if you have a hammock then it is a different story.
This guy knows what's up. My brief time in the Cascades tells the same story.
Jude is offline  
Old 08-08-12, 05:44 PM
  #10  
SweetLou
Senior Member
 
SweetLou's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 2,114
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by zoltani View Post
The problem I see with wild camping in washington is the ground cover, it is often so thick it is hard to find a spot for a tent. Now if you have a hammock then it is a different story.
People still use tents? That seems odd.
SweetLou is offline  
Old 08-08-12, 06:05 PM
  #11  
zoltani
sniffin' glue
 
zoltani's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Seattle
Posts: 3,182

Bikes: Surly crosscheck ssfg, Custom vintage french racing bike, Bruce Gordon Rock & Road

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Sure they do.

On the flip side of the ground cover problem in western WA, i imagine it is hard to find trees to hang a hammock in eastern WA.
zoltani is offline  
Old 08-08-12, 06:09 PM
  #12  
Drakonchik
Senior Member
 
Drakonchik's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: Pacific Northwest
Posts: 734
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
[/QUOTOE] So, if where you want to sleep is unused and unimproved with no notices and no one told you that you can't be there, it is lawful. You have license and privilege to be there.[/QUOTE]

This is correct in Washington State. Wrote a brief on this exact topic at SU law school years ago.
Drakonchik is offline  
Old 08-08-12, 06:50 PM
  #13  
batrike
Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2012
Location: NYC
Posts: 45

Bikes: trek fx7.2/trek marlin 6

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 3 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
This applies for NY state find out about local state parks,department of environmental conservation, an federal land, Bureau of Land Management.Most campgrounds are primitive try Recreation.Gov.Disperse camping is aloud on federal land unless posted
Rules and guidelines for the use of public lands managed by DEC are generally as follows:
  • Camping is prohibited within 150 feet of any road, trail, spring, stream, pond or other body of water except at areas designated by a "camp here" disk.
  • Groups of ten or more persons OR stays of more than three days in one place require a permit from the New York State Forest Ranger responsible for the area.
  • Lean-tos are available in many areas on a first come first served basis. Lean-tos cannot be used exclusively and must be shared with other campers.
  • Use pit privies provided near popular camping areas and trailheads. If none are available, dispose of human waste by digging a hole 6"-8" deep at least 150 feet from water or campsites. Cover with leaves and soil.
  • Do not use soap to wash yourself, clothing or dishes within 150 ft of water.
  • Drinking and cooking water should be boiled for 5 minutes, treated with purifying tablets or filtered through filtration device to prevent instances of giardia infection.
  • Fires should be built in existing fire pits or fireplaces if provided. Use only dead and down wood for fires. Cutting standing trees is prohibited. Extinguish all fires with water and stir ashes until they are cold to the touch. Do not build fires in areas marked by a "No Fires" disk. Camp stoves are safer, more efficient and cleaner.
  • Carry out what you carry in. Practice "leave no trace" camping and hiking.
  • Keep your pet under control. Restrain it on a leash when others approach. Collect and bury droppings away from water, trails and camp sites. Keep your pet away from drinking water sources.
  • Observe and enjoy wildlife and plants but leave them undisturbed.
  • Removing plants, rocks, fossils or artifacts from state land without a permit is illegal.
batrike is offline  
Old 08-08-12, 06:55 PM
  #14  
gerv 
In the right lane
 
gerv's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: Des Moines
Posts: 9,569

Bikes: 1974 Huffy 3 speed

Mentioned: 4 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 37 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by jamawani View Post
State Forests
County Parks
Fishing Access Sites

Not technically "stealth" but often free or very cheap.
Requires a bit of homework.
Yes, I keep finding new ones every year. For some reason the county parks are an excellent resource in that few people know about them, there's always a spot to pitch your tent and they tend to be fairly quiet in the evenings. Except for the occasional owl.
gerv is offline  
Old 08-08-12, 07:02 PM
  #15  
SweetLou
Senior Member
 
SweetLou's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 2,114
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by zoltani View Post
Sure they do.

On the flip side of the ground cover problem in western WA, i imagine it is hard to find trees to hang a hammock in eastern WA.
That's why you bring a pole with you while touring in an area with no trees, rocks or anything else to hang from. Alamosa did some great research on his "Stake Booms" and his portable stand. I found a nice thread over at hammock forums about making a stand pole out of 1" oak dowels and PVC so it is collapsible. So either one pole and your bike, tree, pole, etc. or you could use two poles.
Whatever it takes to stay off the ground for me.
SweetLou is offline  
Old 08-08-12, 07:22 PM
  #16  
Jseis 
Other Worldly Member
 
Jseis's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2012
Location: SW Washington state on the ocean!
Posts: 1,536

Bikes: 1973 Motobecane Grand Jubilee, 1981 Centurion Super LeMans, 2010 Gary Fisher Wahoo, 2003 Colnago Dream Lux, 2014 Giant Defy 1, 2015 Framed Bikes Minnesota 3.0, several older family Treks

Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 147 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 4 Times in 4 Posts
Funny, I never thought of it as stealth but I've "camped" in fields, rest areas, baseball field dugouts, near railroad hobo camps, on rocky peaks, in the yard of a B n B (asked permission) and often, if the landowner is available, that's the best way to get a campsite. Frankly...with all the crazies on the road, you want to be stealthy.
__________________
Make Amerika Grate Cheese Again
Jseis is offline  
Old 08-08-12, 07:32 PM
  #17  
LesterOfPuppets
cowboy, steel horse, etc
 
LesterOfPuppets's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Valley of the Sun.
Posts: 32,314

Bikes: everywhere

Mentioned: 52 Post(s)
Tagged: 1 Thread(s)
Quoted: 3754 Post(s)
Liked 15 Times in 13 Posts
As a volunteer at a local homeless shelter I hear things from local long term stealth campers. Clark County cops don't hassle you for the most part but Vancouver Police are fond of rousting.

I've camped in unofficial camp sites from Bellingam to Vancouver with no police problem ever.
LesterOfPuppets is offline  
Old 08-08-12, 09:38 PM
  #18  
jamawani 
Hooked on Touring
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: Wyoming
Posts: 2,594
Mentioned: 5 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 180 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 4 Times in 4 Posts
Originally Posted by zoltani View Post
The problem I see with wild camping in washington is the ground cover, it is often so thick it is hard to find a spot for a tent. Now if you have a hammock then it is a different story.
I dunno.
East of Yakima it's pretty hard to find two trees.
jamawani is offline  
Old 08-08-12, 09:45 PM
  #19  
Doug64
Senior Member
 
Doug64's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Oregon
Posts: 5,453
Mentioned: 28 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 755 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 9 Times in 8 Posts
I dunno.
East of Yakima it's pretty hard to find two trees.
This is really Eastern Oregon not Washington, but it is hard to tell the difference!
Doug64 is offline  
Old 08-08-12, 09:52 PM
  #20  
LesterOfPuppets
cowboy, steel horse, etc
 
LesterOfPuppets's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Valley of the Sun.
Posts: 32,314

Bikes: everywhere

Mentioned: 52 Post(s)
Tagged: 1 Thread(s)
Quoted: 3754 Post(s)
Liked 15 Times in 13 Posts
As far as a sleep sites on "the wet side" I can usually do OK. Get under a false cedar, the fallen needles usually make for a nice bedding and they'll stay dry underneath unless a protracted steady rain hits.

I usually camp with two tarps and a 40 degree sleeping bag when I'm in the I-5 corridor March-October.

Use one tarp under sleeping bag and one strung as a lean-too from the trees with use of long bungees.
LesterOfPuppets is offline  
Old 08-08-12, 10:16 PM
  #21  
Carbonfiberboy 
just another gosling
 
Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Everett, WA
Posts: 14,797

Bikes: CoMo Speedster 2003, Trek 5200, CAAD 9, Fred 2004

Mentioned: 82 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1717 Post(s)
Liked 13 Times in 11 Posts
He's going right down the coast side. The route through WA looks good. He'll find a lot of farmer fields with good stands of trees here and there. I don't think he'll have any trouble camping either wild or civilized.
Carbonfiberboy is offline  
Old 08-09-12, 06:48 AM
  #22  
BigAura
 
BigAura's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Chapin, SC
Posts: 3,381

Bikes: all steel stable: surly world troller, paris sport fixed, fuji ss

Mentioned: 10 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 577 Post(s)
Liked 6 Times in 4 Posts
I stealth camped in WA last year following a similar route and had no problems.

I would take the word premises to mean buildings.

Heed "No Trespassing" signs.

Leave No Trace. This is the number one rule when camping (stealth or otherwise).
BigAura is offline  
Old 08-09-12, 08:50 AM
  #23  
SweetLou
Senior Member
 
SweetLou's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 2,114
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by BigAura View Post
I would take the word premises to mean buildings.
Not just buildings. From the same statute mentioned above by me:
Originally Posted by RCW 9A.52.010
(6) "Premises" includes any building, dwelling, structure used for commercial aquaculture, or any real property.
Land itself is premises.
SweetLou is offline  
Old 08-09-12, 12:32 PM
  #24  
zoltani
sniffin' glue
 
zoltani's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Seattle
Posts: 3,182

Bikes: Surly crosscheck ssfg, Custom vintage french racing bike, Bruce Gordon Rock & Road

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by jamawani View Post
I dunno.
East of Yakima it's pretty hard to find two trees.
Right, as i stated in post #11


The comment you quoted was for the OP since his route is west of the cascades. That said, OP your route looks kind of boring to me....following the interstate like that. You would miss the best that washington has to offer. Go a bit more inland to mt rainier and bike some of the paved FS roads in the area.
zoltani is offline  
Old 08-09-12, 01:16 PM
  #25  
BigAura
 
BigAura's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Chapin, SC
Posts: 3,381

Bikes: all steel stable: surly world troller, paris sport fixed, fuji ss

Mentioned: 10 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 577 Post(s)
Liked 6 Times in 4 Posts
Originally Posted by SweetLou View Post
Not just buildings. From the same statute mentioned above by me: Land itself is premises.
oops: I just read your post.

Last edited by BigAura; 08-09-12 at 01:32 PM.
BigAura is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service

Copyright 2018 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.