Explore 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.

St. Helens Map
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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.

Awesome short hike. View from the top is amazing.

You: Bring light Ice cleats, and a camera.

Transportation: having decent ground clearance is not a must have but surely helps. I wouldn’t drive up there in a sedan, but people do it.

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

hiking
3 days ago

Just did this trail today. It was my sister and my 2 children ages 11 and 8 and they loved it! We did Ape Trail that was above ground and once we got done we walked back and then went underground. I’m not sure which one we did I’m seeing a lot of posts where people say they did the Upper Cave area but crawled and we didn’t crawl at all. It was an open area cave but pitch black. I used a head flash light and my cell light and my kids had their own lights as well. We didn’t finish the cave trail due to my son sprang his ankle . The terrain is very unsteady so watch your step. Other than that it was really fun and awesome. I’m definitely coming back but more in the spring or summer time. Happy Hiking!

A little busy but the view from the top was absolutely amazing! The trail was icy in several spots. Should have brought some light ice cleats but it was still doable.

Always an amazing hike!!

Did the upper caves (the challenging ones) and absolutely adored it. It gets a bit challenging in some parts but I wouldn’t consider it very hard. I enjoyed all the way.
I would recommend wearing a nice coat since the temperature is Lower downt there and definitely two sources of light (head lamp and flashlight will do) some light gloves might be helpful as well and I wouldn’t take kids younger than 8 or 9 (not only for the physical part but the fact that it’s completely dark and might find it scary)

By the way, you will need a permit in dashboard of the car to park in the lot.

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

hiking
9 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.

hiking
9 days ago

Did both caves. Did this hike without hiking baby. And I would never do this with hiking baby. Helmet is a good idea for upper trail. Recommend 2 sources of light. 1 for use 1 for backup. You do not want to be in the upper cave without light. Rope is installed for 8ft climb. Was completely alone on upper cave. Honestly not smart to do upper cave alone. Learned my lesson on that one. I am a big guy and there is a lot of tight spaces. But I did it with a camera bag and backpack. Was alone for most of the lower cave.

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!!

It was beautiful trail inside and out. We had our 1 year old son on my husband's back and were able to do about 95% of the cave until it was just too small to crawl through with a child on your back. the terrain is a but rough for a child under 4 to walk. We loved it.

Super easy hike. The lower cave is very roomy and it’s a clear path back and out. It was a surreal experience as a first time cave-goer. My only complaint is that a duo near us had clearly been disregarding the signs not to smoke cigarettes in the cave. Without the side of fresh air, it felt like we were walking through an ashtray most of the way.

We went to the side of the upper cave. We reached a point where it seemed like it ended, so we turned around. When we were finished and left the caves and referred to the maps...we realized we hadn’t pushed on far enough and there was more to the upper cave. Will definitely go back to try it out.

Good lights- yes...I went cheap on a headlamp and it wasn’t quite bright enough for my liking

It was quite wet and drippy in there...a raincoat was nice to have.

Good, sturdy shoes. The ground is quite uneven.

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.

hiking
23 days ago

Fun hike, went backwards starting from the upper caves. Completed 10-14-18

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

hiking
26 days ago

I ran through the cave basically... really wired if you know what I mean.

A beautiful hike!
I would suggest using a 4 wheel drive, or high clearance vehicle. The road to the parking is plagued with potholes. That makes the journey a lot longer to park. There are no facilities here.
It wasn't too busy, and it was a gorgeous fall day!

hiking
29 days 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.

Simply amazing. A relatively short hike with some of the most breathtaking views at the end. We were lucky to get a sunny fall day and see Rainier in all its glory, along with Adams and St Helens. The drop off the edge is insane, incredible photos for a little effort!

Wonderful hike and an easy trail to navigate once you've found the trailhead. If you're hiking upstream the actual trailhead can be tricky to find if you don't have service or good directions. If you're unfamiliar with the area I strongly recommend getting familiar with directions because GPS commonly fails here.

hiking
1 month ago

didn’t expect to do this underground cave today because we didn’t have proper lights. we were just going to hang out by the entrance to take pictures, but got so excited and amused by the scenes that we decided to carry on the upper (more difficult) trail using our iphones as lights. highly suggest using head lamps as you want your hands free. it’s flat rock at time, but there are a lot of boulders you need to climb.

i liked entering through the main cave entrance and taking the ground trail back to the parking lot. if i did it vice versa i would’ve probably been more uneasy taking the cave back.

it was my first cave experience / hike, but overall, i highly recommend.

Beautiful hike! Not a long hike, but good elevation gain. We did it with a 9 & 7 year old. The kids had a great time, but they are used to doing these types of hikes. There was a 360 view that was incredible.

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!)

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!

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.

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