Explore Camping Trip 2016 - view hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

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Fantastic trail

Beautiful place

Went off hours, late afternoon on a weekday, and had the place almost to myself. Can get packed on weekends.

nature trips
3 days ago

pretty n easy

hiking
7 days ago

Hiked this trail 7/7. Did the lower section first, which should be rated hard. It is not for small children, dogs, or anyone fearful of heights. I am none of those things but there were a couple of places on the trail that sped up my heartbeat!

As noted by another reviewer, several people have died on this trail, I imagine they went beyond the many signs telling them to stay on the trail. We saw quite a few people doing just that the day we were there. The ladder is tall but very sturdy. However, there is one place one the trail that is quite skinny and you also have to step up a couple of feet. Yikes!

Turned around at the bridge and back up the way we came down, then did the easy loop across the suspension bridge. The water is beautiful.

hiking
9 days ago

Multiple wonderful views of beautiful waterfalls, coupled with somewhat scary cliffs to traverse. There is plenty of solid ground at these points, the narrowest point being about a foot of trail, but it is quite a long way down. I highly recommend this hike as the environment is quite fantastic, but watch your little one's closely. If you are bringing a dog, these is a 30' steel ladder, nearly vertical, that you need to scale. Plan accordingly.

Assuming you do the trail clockwise be careful as you come back around the west. The trail is almost non existent and incredibly slippery. Lots of wash out - I would stay away actually. Wildflowers right now are awesome. No mosquitos.

hiking
11 days ago

We did the whole trail. The top part of the difficult section was a little nerve racking for me since the ledge is thin and some loose dusty ground there. But it was well described.

Took us 2 hours round trip

The drive there was very bumpy. Take a suv or truck. The way down to the waterfall is a bit tricky. We went on a Saturday afternoon and it almost looked like we were at a water park FULL of people, everyone was nice and minded their own business, so we didn’t really mind that. Great swimming spot for kids. We took our 2 year old and she LOVED it.

If you are coming from southern washington the road to get there will say closed about 3-4 miles from the trailhead. We drove past the road closed signs and came to a giant pothole in the road that no cars could get around (jeeps or trucks could make it) so we had to park and walk about 2 miles to the trail, being chased by bees the whole way. Not fun. But the lower waterfall was gorgeous and good for swimming, and I will be going back! Next time we will go around to enter from the north side to avoid the potholes and bees.

The waterfalls are worth the drive and hike!

Technically this trail is 3 modes of difficulty. You have options. The first is a paved interactive walk that has plenty of marked signage and history about the formation of Lava Canyon. It is wheelchair accessible and fairly straightforward.

The second trail is a loop. It is easy to moderate depending on what time of year you go. The trail gets slick in places. This is the portion of the trail that has the (amazing) 128 ft suspension bridge and the ladder. Its quick and I saw several families as we hiked. Kids love the suspension bridge. After the suspension bridge you can choose to go down and to the left which leads into the canyon or you can go up and to the right which continues the moderate loop you are already on.

Did I try the advanced trail? No. There is signage EVERYWHERE about people who have died because they didn't understand the risks. The third option is for experienced hikers and climbers. From what I understand it is a canyon that follows the flow of the falls. It is slick, steep, and dangerous. I know what my hiking level is. Someday I will get there. But not today.

overall the moderate Lava Canyon trail is what most think of when they learn about the trail. The views are incredible. The contrast of blackened lava and ice feed waterfalls against a cool green backdrop of forest and moss is stunning. You can see how the eruption of Mt. St. Helen's impacted the area because you are literally standing in the wake of dried lava flow 38 years later.

So glad I got to see it BUT the road to get there washed out and we were detoured thru hood river Oregon to get home! Literally took us an additional four hours to get back to I-5.

Beautiful upper and lower falls and the middle the falls isn't too bad either. It was in the 90s but felt cool in all the trees.

so worth it very good for photos

hiking
29 days ago

Hiked 7/17: NFRD 90 is full of dips that u won’t see but will hear the bottom of your car scraping the pavement- 30 mph max! Hike: need a NW Forest Pass....well marked trail with Lewis River right next to you almost the entire way up to Upper Falls. No bugs and only saw 2 people on the way in. Great hike for a hot day!

Forgot to clock out of my recording so it recorded a bit of the drive out!
It was a beautiful clear day and we ended up dipping into the water. We arrived at lower Lewis and didn’t realize we could hike up to see middle Falls and upper Lewis. I highly suggest doing so, middle Falls was one of my favorite stops just because it wasn’t nearly as crowded as the lower Falls!
Great hike and would do it again!

I was here on 7/15/2018.
Gorgeous trail, well worth the drive.
Because I hiked this with a dog, I showed up at about 9:30am to beat the heat. It was pretty cool on arrival. I hiked from Lower Falls to Upper Falls and was back to my car by 1pm. I stopped at all three Falls to take in the view, so the hike could have been much shorter if I didn’t stop for breaks.
Not buggy at all, I even forgot to put on bug spray and didn’t get any mosquito bites.
The trail is well maintained and easy enough for beginners, but fun enough for experienced hikers.

These falls really are a must see. Just go. It’s an easy hike with decent mileage and views you won’t forget.

The road to get here is packed full of pothole-like dips, so take it slow. Also, a part of the road is all gravel. I drove a Prius and it did just fine, but I did need to take it slow.

walking
1 month ago

Beautiful trail! The waterfall is absolutely beautiful! I’d rate this trail as moderate. Make sure that you have a good pair of hiking boots with a good grip. There’re a several sports that are a bit steep and some of the spots might have smooth, slippery rocks.
Make sure to bring a bug spray.
The hike is not that long but pretty exiting! If you’re still full of energy there’s Ape Canyon trail right next to it with gorgeous views of Mt St Helens.

My favorite falls of the trio is the lower falls because they are spectacular and offer great swimming options. The middle falls were very beautiful. I especially liked how the water ran over the top of a rock outcropping that was only an inch or so deep. Very beautiful!

hiking
1 month ago

Hiked 07/07/18

Fun hike. The south side trail on the river is still closed but the north side of the river is open however somewhat primitive. There are some risky spots with sheer ledges. There is a spot with a 32’ steel ladder to traverse into the bottom of one of the canyons. Might not be good for kiddos but with that said I would have taken mine.

The first part of the trail is all paved and it has a suspension bridge that was fun. This is a loop that is surely easy to navigate. Once you hike off the pavement and onto the dirt trail it gets challenging. Have fun and be careful.

I backpacked this route on July 1st and 2nd, 2018. Starting at Windy Ridge, I went counter clockwise around the mountain, choosing to get through the approximately 10 mile no camping zone on the north side first.

The parking area is the Windy Ridge interpretive center and the road that shows on maps leading from there to a closer trail head is gated off. You will have to hike from Windy Ridge about two miles to get to the Loowit Trail. A National Forest Pass is required to park, but no other fees or permits are required for this hike.

The north side of the volcano is the side that blew up in the May 18, 1980 eruption. It is still very much a desolate area with no trees and very little vegetation beyond grass and some beautiful fields of flowers. The numerous river flows off the mountain are wide areas of rocky ground over which any semblance of a trail cannot survive from year to year. Look for the stacked stone cairns and single wood posts that mark the trail.

The first couple of miles on this route crossed several rivers that were still flowing with water, but after that there was no water available until the Toutle River on the west flank of the mountain. The desent into the Toutle River gorge was a little hairy. The trail traverses steep slopes consisting of loose volcanic gravel and should be traveled with extreme care. At the bottom, the last 50 feet to the river bed can only be reached hand over hand down a knotted rope anchored at the top for that purpose. It is a steep enough drop that you will not be able to keep your feet should you let go of the rope.

The Toutle River was not difficult to cross at the time I traversed it, but I found the area on the south side of the river to have surprisingly few decent camp sites. Camping here was also challenging in that water had to be retrieved from the Toutle, which had rope assisted climbs in and out of it on both sides. I located a camp site a short distance further down the trail to the south near a stream.

The southern portion of the mountain is characterized by large and very deep washes that are both challenging and hazardous to cross. One was steep enough that ropes had been fixed on both sides. Without them, it wouldn't be possible to get through it. There are also large stretches of lava fields where the trail is often visible only because of the marker posts. Trekking poles are invaluable tools in this terrain and don't expect to make good time.

I encountered no water sources from my camp near the Toutle River all the way to a stream a short distance from June lake, a distance of 10 miles, give or take. I also saw few camp sites, those that were there being devoid of water sources. I did not visit June Lake, though I was told by other hikers that camp sites were available there.

From June Lake the trail begins a steady uphill stretch that seems to go on forever. On the eastern side there was a section of wash outs, some six or seven in a row. Once your are through that, the trail levels out for an awe inspiring walk across the plains of Abraham. The views of both Mt St Helens and the hills to the east are incredible.

The decent down the ridge on the Abraham Trail is steep and covered in loose gravel. There are wooden steps set in the trail to assist hikers in keeping their feet, and they are necessary. It was very windy when I went through here, to the point that I was nearly knocked off my feet a couple of times.

Overall, this was one of the most beautiful and rugged hikes I've ever been on and I highly recommend it for experienced hikers that are looking for a challenging trail.

hiking
1 month ago

This is truly one of my new favorites. Trail was awesome and in great condition! Went straight to the upper Falls, had lunch and a refreshing dip in water-less people at the upper Falls-so glad I read the reviews to go there. Returned back where son swam in the middle Falls. Breathtaking scenery.

The road to the falls was a bit washed away but seemingly managed. I'd suggest a SUV or pickup. It was worth the trip though because the falls were beautiful. You can't beat the fresh smell of a waterfall from the ice caps of a mountain. Precious and spectacular. The rumble of the falls is absolutely a sound I won't yet forget. Go and enjoy!

camping
1 month ago

Lower Lewis Falls is one of my favorite places to camp! Unfortunately the pit toilets are horrible! On the other hand, it is a great base camp to explore the Mt St Helen's area. There are several waterfalls in the area.

My wife, and I hiked the trail to the middle, and upper falls last week 7/2/18. It is a beautiful hike. We like to pack a lunch, and eat at upper falls. What a gorgeous place. Safe for the whole family.

on Lava Canyon Trail

hiking
1 month ago

We hiked Lava Canyon last week 7/3/18. Love this hike! The upper loop is moderate, and safe for most healthy people. If you don't like heights this isn't for you.

Hiking down into the canyon should be rated difficult. There are 90 ft cliffs. People have died in this canyon. There is alot of loose rock which makes narrow stretches slick, and sketchy! A family with small child behind us turned around and left at the first one of those sections. Good idea!

There is a rock formation in the middle of the canyon that people call "The Ship". Climbing it reminds my wife of Hobbits climbing Mt Mordor, so we call it Mordor rock. The view from the top is beautiful. You can look back at the Lava Canyon waterfalls from it. Well worth the climb.

Beautiful trail. 1st time to upper falls and it was amazing. Have hiked to middle many times, glad we pushed on to the end

Loved this shirt hike! Great for kids and the water felt amazing!

Trail is open, went on the hike on Saturday. Nice small hike and good for family

Definitely beautiful and worth walking to all three falls. Trail starts in a campground so its pretty crowded. It is a very easy trail great for kids and pets.

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