Explore mt 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.

mt st helens Map
VIEW FULL MAP

Almost didn’t do this trail but so happy I did. You think you’re getting the best view about a mile from the top but I promise the last push is worth it. From the summit, you have a great view of Helens, Hood, and Adams. Pretty exposed trail but the views are worth it.

This hike really impressed us. We were looking for something a little bit different than the usual mountain hikes were used to, so we decided to give this trail a try. We really enjoyed that the trail was unique, in that you’re quite literally traversing down a canyon adjacent to magnificent gushing water and waterfalls. We enjoyed the views most on the lower portion of the trail, and especially loved the ladders...just got a kick out of those! All in all, we loved it and would definitely do it again!

We did the loop and the only negative I found was having to walk along the street to get back to our car and that is why I gave it 4 stars instead w 5.

Fantastic trail

hiking
3 days ago

Fossil Trail 242: Gifford Pinchot Forest
13 August 2018
This is an overlooked hiker trail I can recommend – moderate difficulty for the first mile then easier. Well traveled by horses but no shoe prints or bike tracks today. With the temperature in the mid-90s this August hike was 95% in the cool shade of a moderate growth forest. The trail starts in the north end of the Kalama Horse camp – walk 100 yards and cross the FR 81 to the trail signpost. Begin at 2,200’ elevation. The first quarter-mile is relatively flat then joins an old caterpillar track and ascends 30° for a mile with a couple switchbacks – this is the steepest part of the whole trail. The second mile is easier at a 10° ascent and by mile 3 is level at 3500’ (highest elevation).
On the ascent and right side of the trail looms Goat Mountain (4,965 feet tall). It is NE of the trail and viewed from time to time through the trees. Essentially the trail follows The Fossil Creek Valley and contours around the western slope of Goat Mountain. There are no trails marked on the map for a Goat Mountain climb. Along the way the only opening in the forest are four avalanche chutes – easily traversed.
At mile 3.3 the trail enters the Mount Saint Helens Monument boundary and follows it in and out for a mile. It is here the trail descends to Goat Marsh Creek – the only water source. On this part of the trail, now traveling east, a few glimpses of MSH can be seen. The trail eventually joins up with Road 8123 and ends south of Blue Lake where the Blue Lake Trail and Toutle Trail can be accessed leading back to the Kalama Horse Camp; a 14-mile loop.
The quality of the forest makes this hike. Patches of moderate and old growth Nobel & Hemlock Fir, and Western Red Cedar marks this as a mature mixed forest. Many large trees are >4’ DBH and a couple >6’. The tread is entirely ash/pumice and in many places the trail needs brushing, berms knocked down, the trail widened, and limbs trimmed. Long pants and hiking poles are recommended. No ticks.
Wildlife: abundant bear and coyote scat, along with elk droppings.
A report on this trail by Tom Paulu Oct 2, 2014 (The Daily News) says the Forest Service opened the trail in 2003 and it was built by Backcountry Horsemen of Washington.

hiking
9 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.

fantastic! only one mosquito August 1 , a few deerfly. my 13 year old did this with me and loved it. saw multiple deer and eagles, under trees, next to the water and some Rocky areas keep it from getting boring and repetitive, scenery is gorgous

hiking
11 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.

hiking
13 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

13 days ago

Great hike, super easy but great views for not a ton of effort. Beware though - we saw (not exaggerating) probably 20+ different rat snakes along the trail. They were harmless, but still... snakes.

hiking
14 days ago

Great views

Nice views but we only had time for the observatory and the short hike and it cost $8/ person for a green wrist band. Make sure to get your money's worth if you go, skip this and hit the other areas of the park-

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.

hiking
24 days ago

Great views of Mt. St Helens the entire hike! This trail is well marked and trafficked. Devil’s Elbow isn’t maintained anymore—it is blocked off and there is an arrow pointing you to stay on the Boundary Trail. Was able to see Mt. Adams and Mt. Hood in the distance while on Harry’s Ridge. There are wildflowers everywhere you look. Pretty exposed hike, so make sure you’ve got sunscreen. I got to Johnston Ridge Observatory around 9:30 and the parking lot was mostly empty.

I agree not really a trail but the views were great of the mountain and the way nature has reclaimed the land after the volcano erupted. Forty years of progress is pretty amazing.

hiking
26 days ago

great trail for kids!

Very nice views of the mountain

As others have mentioned, not really a trail..but does provide awesome views!!! Absolutely worth the detour on the way to Seattle! (At least once!)

Good flow and pretty lake views. You have to stop and swim. Best part of the ride.

1 month ago

it was a great trail for beginners and going counterclockwise has better views of the mountain and overall was amazing

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.

1 month ago

beautiful view of the lake.

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.

Easy access with great views. More of a walkway than a trail.

hiking
1 month ago

Great trail with beautiful views! Great for family with older kids (8+ years)

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.

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

hiking
1 month ago

Beautiful view of Spirit Lake and the surrounding area.

hiking
1 month ago

We only did the upper loop as the lower was still closed fathers day weekend. What a cool area!! The rocks were a little slick for any downhill and that felt sketch. Saw another couple really struggling. Dogs may not be the biggest fan of the suspension bridge. Really quick and easy jaunt though with BIG rewards

hiking
1 month ago

Very little work for a LOT of payoff. Well established, easy trail with some of the most amazing views of St. Helens that you'll ever see. Went in early July and the Wildflowers were absolutely amazing. Keep in mind there are NO DOGS ALLOWED (most hikes in and around this area are no pet zones). Also, the original trail I downloaded from AllTrails had it marked to actually take the Devil's Elbow trail. Once you get there, there is a sign that says not to take it, and for good reason. You would be hugging a cliff side on a trail with loose dirt. DON'T TAKE DEVIL'S ELBOW, just stay on Boundary Trail.

Load More