Boundary West Trail is a 9.9 mile loop trail located near Toutle, WA and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking and snowshoeing and is accessible from June until November.
view of St helens 80% of hike
A great hike full of raw nature. Spectacular views of Mt. St. Helens and the evidence of the devastation that remains. Trees and trunks blasted apart and lying in the direction of the blast. Sparse wildflowers trying to repopulate the barren land. Lessons to be learned on Leaving No Trace. We only hiked about 2.5 miles out and back from the Johnston Ridge Observatory to the point where we could see Spirit Lake and Mt. Ranier in the distance.
Awesome trail that is not for the slight of heart. Steep slopes and narrow trail on loose rock. It's worth it if you can handle it! Btw 504 is closed from coldwater lake to the observatory as of 11-21-2015. Happy trails!!
My review is two-fold. Five stars for the spectacular views of Mt St Helens but one star for the trail itself. First off, this trail is 4 miles one way to Johnston Ridge Observatory after it leaves the Hummocks Trail after .9 miles. The map is correct but the GPS tracks uploaded are all wrong, as they leave from JRO and head east. This is nearly a 10-mile roundtrip. I will say this: it was the scariest trail we have ever been on, and we have hiked every weekend for years. There were sections of the trail that were slanted with nothing but loose pebbles underfoot and hundreds of feet drops into the Toutle Valley if you slipped. The views were spectacular and the first two miles of trail were beautiful, safe and in great shape. Turn around after that and you will be just fine. But the erosion cannot easily be controlled on this trail and from my perspective, it's not worth dying to hike it. For every mile of trail, there is maybe 50-100 feet of bad footing. Not a good risk-to-benefit ratio but it's not obvious until you have gone too far and realize that your only option is to go forward and hope for better conditions, or go back over the terrible trail you just passed over. Not safe options at all. By the time we reached Johnston Ridge Observatory, we were exhausted from the stress and decided that we would rather take our chances of being hit on WA 504, so we walked the eight miles back to the Hummocks Trailhead. Yes, it is THAT bad. Rationally, I know that hundreds of people safely traverse this trail each year and you may decide you are one of them. If you do, trekking poles are an absolute must if you decide to hike this trail! Also, a GPS can help you navigate offtrail to avoid some of the more horrible areas. But most cannot be avoided. I uploaded some images showing these areas so people can make informed decisions. The one shows my wife negotiating one section and the other shows a yawning abyss with a ton of loose scree on the left of the picture. That scree IS the trail, and it makes a hairpin switchback up that hillside.