Coldwater Lake Trail

MODERATE 17 reviews

Coldwater Lake Trail is a 8.3 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Toutle, WA that features a lake and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking and mountain biking and is accessible from April until November.

8.3 miles 1041 feet Out & Back

kid friendly

hiking

mountain biking

forest

lake

views

waterfall

wild flowers

muddy

rocky

washed out

no dogs

From Castle Rock, drive east 35 miles to the Coldwater Visitor Center in Mount St. Helens National Monument. The signed trailhead is immediately following the visitors center on the left.

3 months ago

4 months ago

I didn't hike the entire length of it, wanted to get back home before dark. But beautiful clear lake, gorgeous wildflowers all along the trail. I often took breaks to just appreciate the quiet and the scenery. Great outing while checking out Mt Saint Helens.

hiking
5 months ago

Not where we planned on hiking today, but arrived at about 1ish today. Parked in the first parking lot we came to, but started trail to the left of the boat launch. Hiked the first 3.25 miles. Very easy hike. In that 3 miles, only 2 areas of a steep hike up, but very very easy hike. Not much shade today, and it was sunny. Some bugs (dragon flies and some gnats on the way back). Lots and lots of wildflowers blooming. As stated, the trail is very easy and easy to follow, but lots of flowers hanging over the trail or making it seem narrow. Entire hike is along the water with beautiful views.

hiking
8 months ago

Great! Not many other travelers. Great weather. Highly recommend.

trail running
1 year ago

This was a great trail for running, however, there were some chain link fences that were placed down for erosion that had started popping up. I also impaled myself on one. Other than that, it's in good shape.

The lake is great for swimming too!

1 year ago

hiking
1 year ago

The trail is in good shape, long pants shouldn't be required unless one has sensitive skin; ) The haze from the wildfires was really bad today. Other than that it is a fantastic hike. The hill from the observatory according to Endomondo is roughly 1000 feet, so one could go to the boat ramp for a little easier route.

hiking
1 year ago

Very nice, scenic, easy hike along the lake. Well groomed trail, mountain bikes are allowed, but didn't see any. Trailhead is easy to find at the boat launch. You can take a side trail up to the Coldwater visitor center. Will be back for sure and will probably bring mountain bikes fur an easy ride with the kids.

hiking
1 year ago

Clear skies over Mt St Helens and Coldwater lake today. The trail head was easy to find right at the boat launch of the recreation area. Contrary to some reviews, there are no permits required and be advised that there no dogs allowed on the trail. That said, nice easy hike. Beautiful lake and views. Signs say to not go off the designated path, but how will you sit on the drift wood and dip your feet in the water;)? We hiked almost to the end of the lake before turning around. Trail is well maintained with a few down trees, though nothing you cant step over. Surprisingly not many other people on this trail today. Be sure to make time to check out this trail if you are in the area. Closest gas station is about 30 miles away. And be sure to pack out what you pack in!

hiking
1 year ago

Beautiful and sad and the same time considering the history of the area. The trail is mostly wide open and really not too difficult. Great day hike.

hiking
2 years ago

hiking
2 years ago

Beautiful and pretty easy if you hike a bit. Get here early and there will be noone but a few fishermen. As the day progresses, the tourists show up.

hiking
4 years ago

Beautiful lakeside trail. Fall is here as the leaves are now changing color. Did this hike on Sept 29. Was foggy in the am until about 12 noon and then it cleared to be a beautiful day! Parts of the trail are covered and open. Trail has just been cleared. There is a bridge and beautiful waterfall/coldwater creek just a few minutes on the Coldwater Trail 230. The colors of the rocks are stunning. Attempted the south side of the hike but really overgrown. Not a very well used trail on the south side.

hiking
4 years ago

August 4th, 2012: absolutely gorgeous hike. One of the best wildflower hikes I've been on in a very long time. The hike is fairly level and easy, but the overgrown areas can make you look at your feet, which may be why the moderate rating. The start of the trail is right by the boat ramp with immediate views of the lake and Mt. St. Helen's. Wild flowers, dragonflies, and butterflies were everywhere.
For the first mile, there are frequent benches until just after the only sanctioned beach access area of the hike. After this first mile, there are a few small streams to cross, but nothing challenging. While the temperature was very warm, the whole hike had a very pleasant and cooling breeze.

Recommended gear/clothing: pants, due to the lush growth, and sun protection of some kind; many areas of the trail are exposed to the sun. On hot days, bring plenty of water.

hiking
4 years ago

This was one of my favorite hikes. We did this one in May, 2012. There was quite a bit of snow, we made our way around it okay. We camped at Ridge Camp. The first of the season!! Beautiful, stunning, amazing. These are the words that come to mind but they don't do it justice. We saw a lot of elk and heard a variety of other animals. There was still so much snow that water was not a problem. No fires made for a chilly night, though. We came up from the boat launch (Lakes Trail #211) and then to (Coldwater Trail #230) up the very steep switchbacks up to Ridge Camp. We took the South Coldwater Trail for our return. This section of the trail was well traveled and pretty crowded. Seems like a great family hike (this leg, anyway). Old logging equipment that was abandoned and destroyed during the eruption is littered about and cool for photos.

hiking
5 years ago

Good hike but now I want to try it with snowshoes

hiking
6 years ago

My husband and I decided to do this trail after reading about Coldwater Lake and how it was formed. It also seemed like it would be a very scenic hike without being too difficult. There are several rules to be aware of before you do this hike but in spite of all the rules and precautions, it's a hike well worth the effort. The area around Coldwater Lake is still a research area for Mt. St. Helens because this lake was created by the eruption and the surrounding area is evidence of the event. No dogs are allowed on the trail and no off-trail hiking is permitted either (there are several signs along the trail to remind you). That being said, it would be a little difficult to go off-trail anyway because the trail has the steep hillside on one side and a steep drop-off into the lake on the other for most of the hike. The trail starts out at the boat ramp. You can either park at the boat ramp parking lot or the parking lot at the official trailhead where you'll walk a paved path to the boat ramp then on to the trail. I have listed this out and back hike from one end of the lake to the other end as 8 miles according to the park literature available at the trailhead, the signs posted on the trail and my husband's calculations of the trail on dailymile.com.

The hike is listed on All Trails as an easy hike but I'm classifying the hike as moderate because of the washed out parts of the trail and the many stream crossings. Other than that, it's not a very strenuous hike...the elevation gain is gentle and minimal and the inclines and downhills are not challenging. I have read other reviews of this trail on other sites which complain about the "poor condition" of the trail, the fact that it isn't maintained and too many parts of it are just plain washed out. First of all, this trail is in a very active area with run-off from snow coming down the hills, lots of rain and several waterfalls and streams. So of course a trail like this is going to be more difficult to maintain and will have some issues but I personally found the washed out parts, etc, to be a challenge and not something to complain about. All in all the trail was in good conditin and there was really only one major break in the trail where the trail had washed out and fallen away and it wasn't that difficult to get by so long as you don't mind getting dirty. Also, I would strongly advise taking along an extra pair of socks in case of slipping into water while stream-crossing. The streams are shallow but deep enough that you might get water in your boots, especially if you're wearing lighter dayhikers like I was. I was grateful to be able to put on a dry pair of socks.

When you reach the end of the lake, there's a huge area of rock created by a major landslide. It's an awesome sight to behold and also a terrific place to take a rest before the return trip. The lake itself is a wonder and a beautiful site. We were there early in the season and on a rainy/drizzly day so there was no one else on the trails. The solitude and quiet were very much appreciated. There's not much to see in the way of wildlife but I did spy deer hoof prints in the mud, elk droppings in the landslide area and we spotted a bald eagle on a remnant tree in the middle of the lake. This is one of the most enjoyable, scenic hikes I've been on.

(One last note, if you're thinking of doing the Coldwater Lake Loop, I would recommend starting the hike on the opposite side of the lake and making the Coldwater Lake Trail (aka Birth of a Lake Trail) the second half of your hike. The hike back to the boat ramp is more downhill than not and much more enjoyable at the end of an extra long hike.)