Explore mount st helens - 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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Hiked this trail in the spring/early summer of 2018 this is a beautiful trail. the water is gorgeous! plenty of creek crossings with no bridges. There are bathrooms here if you park at the lake parking area. I parked at south cold water trailhead and there are no bathrooms there. Didnt see a lot of people when I went, maybe less than 10 and there were also not a lot of bugs out at this time. I would highly recommend this trail. I do believe that no motorized boats are allowed on this lake. If you do the loop from south cold water you do have to hike back to the trail head on the highway for a mile or two, which can get busy later in the day. Trail can also be narrow and steep at times if you are doing the loop. You do need a northwest forrest pass or national parks pass to park in any areas where a pass is required.

hiking
15 days ago

Hiked on Nov. 10th and there was no snow, though I imagine that has changed by now. Overall, a really amazing hike. Trail is well-maintained. The incline is not difficult and the views are awesome. It was very clear so we saw Helens, Adams, Rainier, and Hood. Opens up at the top and gets a little chilly but still a great place to stop for some lunch. Not many hikers when we went but still quite a few mountain bikers. Parking lot was full. I bet in the summer it gets a lot of traffic so be aware of that.

hiking
16 days ago

This was a very beautiful hike! Easy to do but requires shoes with good traction. There is a section after the bridge that allows you to go down by the water but we were unable to venture down due to slippery conditions. Highly recommend this hike in summer/fall!!

Done it twice. ready to do it again!

This one is fun. Suspension bridges and ladders make it especially unique. Great views of waterfalls and cascades. I did the entire trail and as other reviews have said just be careful and know that you probably shouldn’t bring pets/children. At the split near the beginning of the trail I veered right and went over the bridge. I think this is the better route because you get great views of the falls on the way back up.
Here's a video of my experience: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bF5ragxSIw8&t=4s

***After the 30 foot ladder but before the next bridge there is another smaller ladder that is somewhat hard to find. It leads to a short out/back trail on a ridge that pays off with extraordinary views.

Travelers note:
Forest pass: YES
Parking fee: $5 without forest pass
Travel time from Portland: about 2 hours
Driving conditions: road to the trailhead has a fair amount of potholes and such. Drive is possible in a car but probably better to have a vehicle with clearance.

hiking
22 days ago

Driving the last ~mi on the way in is rough in spots but a car can make it, just take care. Excellent views at the very end above the treeline. All-around great hike with interesting landscape throughout.

My first major summit. It's a hard climb, but worth it at the top.

Awesome. That’s all that needs to be said.

hiking
29 days ago

Just a heads up. It's hunting season. Worth the $5 to buy an orange hunting vest so you don't get shot. Ran into a couple hunters who informed me of hunting season and let me borrow a vest. Better safe than sorry. Suspension bridge was awesome.

Super day out there! Nice and sunny and trail was good. I would obviously still recommend mountain gear, poles, crampons etc. it was a great day! Trails were great!

Sumitted November 8th!... a bit chilly, but no wind at the top, and amazing sunny views! Definitely appreciated crampons near the summit. This is a challenging hike! I am an avid hiker and runner and my body hurts in ways it rarely does 2 days later... but well worth it!!

hiked this on 10/28, got .15mi from the end and turned back due to snow and thunder. once we got back down 500ft or so it turned back to rain, and by the time we got back to the rock fields we had some sun and views of Mt St Helens. didn’t see anyone else which was kind of nice. trail was easy to follow, steep in some parts, and near the top some narrow parts with a sharp drop off. if you’re planning on doing this in the next few weeks, plan accordingly.

Great hike! We didn’t intend to do this one, but we were finished hiking Ape Caves and realized this was so close. The first two sections are pretty great...rather short...so totally doable. Parts were a little scary since it was so wet out. The bridge was quite frightening for someone who is afraid of heights. More than adequate amount of signage. I would recommend this hike when it is dry out. Gorgeous views. Did not attempt to hike the most difficult part, I read in forums that it’s quite dangerous when wet.

Hated it but intend to do it every year until I can’t!

hiking
1 month ago

Gorgeous day, beautiful hike. The Johnston Observatory closes for the season in less than a week, so it wasn’t crowded at all. We only saw 10 other people on the trail today.

hiking
1 month ago

Great hike with beautiful forest scenery, moderate elevation gain, and rewarding views from the top. It took us about 3 1/2 hours total which included a short walk on the Loowit trail at the top and a lunch break. You start off in a rock field, then most of the trail is through forest, and towards the end the trees thin as you walk through loose gravel. The uphill section wasn’t too steep but still tired us out. Bring lots of water. We veered off the trail at one point and used the All Trails app to get back on track. Really helpful.

Such an incredible hike! It starts off fairly easy to get you warmed up before the climb really takes off! It’s definitely a tough hike, especially the last trek through the ash and sand up near the summit. But the view is so amazing, all the hard work pays off! The group I hiked with started out in the early morning on October 19th and the weather was perfect: sunny with a gentle breeze! Highly recommended hike! (Always be ready for whatever weather conditions come along though!)

started the trail late than we wanted to, so we were racing against the sun. trail is pretty scenic and you get different views of your surroundings the higher you go — spirit lake, mt adam, mt rainier. saw two deer throughout the whole hike.

we took a wrong turn and made a left at the split towards the top of the trail. there was signage (from 2017) saying that the trail to the right was closed because of washouts, but we should’ve ignored it and continued on to get the full view of mount st. helens. the trail we took (to the left) sort of just... ends — with only a partial view of mount st. helens.

i’d go back to explore trail right next time i’m in the PNW

Completed this hike last Friday (October 12th) and weather was perfect, sunny with a little chill in the air. The last mile was the hardest by far but well worth the effort!

Completely loved this hike. Perfect weather yesterday, sunshine and no wind. I won’t lie, this was a hard hike for me. Loved the bouldering but the ridge line of ash kicked my ash. Fantastic visibility granted us a glorious view of the crater, Mt. Rainier, Mt. Adams, Mt.Hood and what we think was Mt.Washington. It was incredible. The hike down was hard on tired legs but we found the rocky trail below Monitor Ridge was easier than the boulders. Wonderful. Best hike of my life!

more steps than trail,but what views definitely do again

hiking
1 month ago

Perfect hiking conditions—70 degrees, no wind and almost no one on the mountain on a Monday morning. Leaves are changing colors and amazing views the whole way. Easy drive from PDX, took about an hour after crossing in to Washington. I’d rate the trail moderate only for length—it was never steep or difficult terrain. My only negative on this trail is it is a dry trail, so be sure to bring enough water for you and the dogs. You’re in the woods for all but the last mile, so you don’t have to worry too much about being overexposed to the sun.

hiking
1 month ago

I loved everything about this hike. Great views at the start and at the finish of the hike. We went to the Loowit trail and headed right for a quarter mile or so. Beautiful views of Hood.

I e only ever done the very short part of this hike where we loop back after the suspension bridge but this time we decided to go right and continue on. I looked at the map and I saw where we could stay in the Lava Canyon trail by keeping left at the bridge. Once we hit SCOTT trail we took a little break over looking the river. We decided to go down SCOTT trail u til it met up with the upper part of Lava Canyon trail. It is t marked but you can see the trail to the left. Also I knew it was only .3 of a mile. They really should put signage there. The upper trail is all up! Looks like an old Forrest access road overgrown. But we had to take a couple short breaks to rest. It’s over 3 miles up. I believe we climbed about 1204 feet. I could definitely say no dogs past the suspension bridge and this is definitely rated HARD in my book. Scary at times. I am glad I did it.

Must do this trail. Awesome photo ops, wry exposed so bring water, sunscreen and your camera.

I FOUND YOUR CAMERA!!!!
Hiked to summit today and found it on the way down. Please contact me with a description to claim it so I can get it back to you. 425-785-1140

so so pretty

I loved these views!! Went yesterday and arrived at 3pm and made it to the campsites by 430 or so. It’s an easy hike that goes through tons of beautiful fall foliage, and at this time all the leaves are smelling and crisp and like autumn rain! The sun was out and I got amazing views of Spirit Lake, St. helens, Rainier, Adams, and Mt Hood. It was crazy!!! Wish I could’ve made it to the top. Planned to camp there and completely forgot drinking water and discovered it was a dry trail. Had to turn around once I ran out. So pack a ton of water, and wear sunscreen! I’m definitely coming back to this hike. I loved that we didn’t go through many trees, because that meant open sky and views pretty much the whole way. I used directions from the WTA website and they helped so much. There’s a lot of junctions and sometimes it can be confusing. Print something out beforehand and make sure you know where you’re headed.
Forest roads along the way were paved for the most part with some random yet kinda common cracks and potholes. like really bad ones. They’re not gravel roads, but it looks like the road split in half, maybe due to the eruption of St. helens? Some of the paved roads are cracked and caved in so just drive slow. All vehicles should be good.

We were fogged in for our first half of the hike- when we got to the peak- the fog would roll in and out changing every few minutes. On the way back, we did get to see what we were hiking. You can see the parking lot from the peak (if the weather permits). We saw a coyote down near St Helens Lake and a few deer immediately beginning the trail from the visitors center. This hike is long and the end elevation should not be ignored. Gorgeous on all accounts. Saw lots of bear, deer, elk and some mountain goat scat as well but saw no mountain goats!

Completed this hike on Tuesday, October 2. We had clear beautiful weather in the treeline, then the wind picked up. We were in and out of clouds for the rest of the ascent. The winds were around 55kph when we started and increased to 65+kph (around 40mph) as we were reaching the top. We had ice forming on us as we continued to gain elevation (my calculations said that it as about 19 degrees with the wind chill). Even with multiple layers, it was getting really cold. Made it to the top with the wind against us in about 5 hours. It was 34 degrees at the top, still heavy winds, so we didn’t stay long. Three hours down...the boulder field was a challenge with the wind on our backs. Knocked me down a few times. But we made it! Incredible experience, empowering, and worth the frozen hands, and wind burnt face. =)

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