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

Southwest Washington Map
VIEW FULL MAP

Fantastic trail

It was one of my favorite hikes

great low key hike!

One of our favorite hikes in the gorge. Well maintained, easy to moderate shaded ~3.5 Mile out and back with ~800’ vertical (according to my gps). Good for families and dogs. The falls are amazing with a great viewing area. Bring a picnic lunch and enjoy!

Take a capable vehicle to this trailhead. I repeat; take a capable vehicle to this trailhead.
I took a Prius. I thought for sure I was going to wreck my Prius getting there. The road is so bad in places that it looks like a motocross track.
Expect 10ish miles of uneven, overgrown, single lane, gravel roads-- with countless supersize potholes.
By the time I made it to the TH, I noticed a storm rolling in so I got back in my car and left. I didn't even get to do the hike. There was no way I wanted to try driving that road when it's wet and muddy.
The hike seemed lovely. Maybe I'll be back one day when I buy a different car.

This is a great, little hike. But be prepared.
There are two sections. The upper section goes to the viewing platform and is a 1-2 minute walk down a moderate hill. That's the part that's super kid and dog friendly.
The second section is very steep and a little tricky. It's not a difficult hike if you are experienced, but you're climbing up/down using root systems and a couple of ropes (left by hikers) as anchors. It requires a lot of focus (so I don't suggest bringing a dog) because a misstep means an injury. Be sure to wear traction boots on the second trail. A woman fell and badly broke her leg whie we were there and had to be rescued.
The falls are definitely worth the effort. Just be sure to take care. Oh, and the two trails aren't marked Upper and Lower, so pay attention and make sure you're where you want to be.

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
7 days ago

Flowers and the view here are great, also a nice easy trail to bring older family on.

A great hike through a beautiful section of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. There are some steady ascents and descents, but nothing dramatic except for the last small part right before you reach the Silver Star Mountain trail. At the meeting point with Silver Star there is a small campground and a short trail leading up to Silver Star Mountain. In August 2018 there was NO WATER TO BE FOUND anywhere on the trail or at the campsite, so bring more water than you think you'll need, especially if you will be camping.

Make sure to go up the Silver Star trail to the top to get amazing 360º views of Washington and Oregon, where on a clear day you can see Mt. Saint Helens, Mt. Rainier, and Mt. Hood, as well as the Columbia River Gorge and Portland off in the distance. The entire trail is flanked by wild berry bushes and beautiful vistas. If you don't want to get your legs scraped up, be sure to wear full-length pants. And, if you are going, please consider taking a machete to do some trail maintenance, as there is a lot of growth right into the trail that makes walking difficult.

As others have noted in the comments, the trail starts about 2 miles down a fire road, so if you have a high-clearance 4WD you can get right to the trail head, otherwise you will be parking at the turn around on NF-41.
(This was written 2018-08-07)

Absolutely stunning! Everyone should see this spot!

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

beautiful trail. Mt biked it from the bridge up and back down and out.

Getting to the trailhead is simple enough. I came up by way of Merrell Lake and the Kalama Horse Camp. I think most people go up and past Ape Cave but both are fine. As others noted, the trail is in great shape. Bring water and DEET with you though! The lack of water along the hike was disappointing to me but it was still a great time.

I would suggest that you explore the actual lower camp area once you get up to the base of Butte dome. The camp ain’t much... a couple of logs serving as benches around a fire ring but still...

The second recommendation is to go that last mile to reach the Loowit Trail. The views are spectacular and once you get above the tree line, well that’s just cool experience.

Most of the hike is in the woods so catching those grand vistas up past lower camp is exceptionally worthy.

hiking
9 days ago

The mosquitoes and the biting flies were the bane of my existence on this hike up to Blue Lake. It was incredibly beautiful but even covered in DEET I was swatting flies and mosquitoes for three hours straight. I could hardly enjoy myself.

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.

It is an easy hike, which doesn’t take long with a beautiful waterfall you can sit in front of and enjoy. Most the trail is shaded, and it’s nice and cool by the waterfall!

I hiked part of this trail in July. My friends & I found sooo many huckleberries!!! We spent hours picking. A beautiful spot & pretty waterfall.

Falls are spectacular but the trail is so hard to find. Once you do it's an easy trail down to the platform. Lots of of shoot trails are closed because of erosion. All but a few respected the boundaries. The parking/pull of is wide and identified by a rocky slope. The trail blends into the forest right from the shoulder of the road across the parking lot.

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

Pretty waterfall if you just want to go for a photo.

Lovely waterfall, short hike

Mira, your post is irresponsible. The four people who died in the last two years on this 500 foot long trail were all very careful. It is slippery, steep and very dangerous. We should honor the postings that the area is closed. With that said, the overlook is open and there are some nice photo opportunities at the top.

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
17 days ago

Hiked up just past where ape canyon trail intersects loomit loop, ate lunch, hiked back down. Clocked it at 10.3mi in 5 hrs including stops (doggy sniffing included).

* dusty and dry. BRING WATER especially for furry friends - there are 0 spots for them to drink from any bodies of water. Period.
* pretty flat footing all the way up since it’s a mixed use trail used by many mountain bikers.
* steady incline with a few ups and downs. No steep bits. I would put this on the easy side of moderate, with the only moderate part being the length. It really was quite an easy hike.
* all the mountain bikers we ran into were super respectful and conscious of hikers being on trail.
* great views of St. Helens, Adams, and even Rainier!
* bugs weren’t bad in the morning, but got bad as the day got hot. There were only a few mosquitoes towards the beginning, and the rest of the way up it was just a lot of flies. They were more annoying than anything. We got very few bites from the mosquitoes and the rare biting fly. Once we popped out onto the plains, there was an amazing breeze and the bugs were gone.
* LOTS of other trails to connect to and directions to go in once you reach the plains if you’re looking for a longer trek.

Almost didn’t go because the reviews said the trail is closed. Yes there is a piece of paper that says something along the lines of “this is not a trail, this is dangerous” but if you ignore that sign and take the very steep and dangerous trail WITH CAUTION, it puts you out at the bottom of the falls and it definitely worth it.

The short trail to the falls overlook is open and the falls are beautiful; the rest of the trail was closed.

We did this hike in 93 degree heat and very dry conditions; it was not at the top of our list of hikes. Very overgrown, very few places to stop. Not great views on the way. We enjoyed hikes along water ways much more than this one.

Just did this hike yesterday and have to say that with all the Eagle Creek closures, this will be my new favorite. My husband and I were shocked at the amount of cars in the parking lot bc it’s pretty remote, but we really didn’t run into that many people along the way. At the Y we went left first and ended up above the falls. I will say that it’s a pretty steady incline but we love the challenge. The upper falls is small but still a gorgeous hike. The trail is well maintained.
Headed back down and went to the right at the Y which takes you right to the main falls. It is breathtaking. It really made me feel like there is still some of the PNW’s jewels in existence. We went down to the pool and it was at least 20* cooler with the mist, which was to die for on this hot day. To the upper and lower falls and back was just a bit over 5 miles and definitely worth every step. I will go here again without hesitation

hiking
24 days ago

It's definitely not 'hard' as the description would indicate, as the inclines are manageable, and it's not too long. That said, it is definitely buggy, and you should plan to be harassed by the bugs for your entire time in the trees. It's a gorgeous trail though, and one I'd recommend for sure. Btw...I just read some of the other reviews from the last day or two. the bugs aren't as bad as the others let on. I mean...you're out in the woods...sheesh. Wear some sleeves and a hat and you'll be fine. I don't ever wear bugspray and didn't have many bites.

Also - note that this trail gets a LOT of MTB traffic. Plan accordingly for that if you're going to head up it. I personally start early in the morning so I get all of the bikes on their way up. If you catch them all headed downhill I could see this being pretty sketchy.

TRAIL CLOSED SINCE 7/14/18

Came, but had a difficult time finding the trail. Once we found it, it was closed. It would have helped if the closure had been marked on the app.

Load More