Explore the most popular lake trails in Gifford Pinchot National Forest with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

Always a good not too difficult hike in this summer, but if you do go around now expect about a 20 minute walk to the trailhead because of snow. The trail itself is only a bit washed out. However, you might have to get wet to cross the 2 waterfall crossings, the water levels are higher than normal.

Not a hike for beginners, but a good workout for us 50 something’s in good condition. The trail is mostly well maintained, and easily discernible, but there are some trees blocking the path. No horses could make it very far, and I would not recommend this for young children. It was a great day hike for us, the old growth forest is beautiful, the river about a third of the way in was fascinating, and Glacier Lake is clear, cold, and remote. All in all, it was a great hike.

Couldn’t get to the trail as there was still a lot of icy snow.

A splendid day hike or overnighter with hammocks. Beautifully graded trail.

backpacking
14 days ago

Hiked Packwood Lake yesterday for an overnighter. The parking lot was full. I had to park on the access road to the trailhead. At least 40 cars, maybe more. Most of the campsites were taken upto the Goat Rocks Wilderness Area. That's where I found my site. I did see quite a few people hiking beyond that. There was NO SNOW ON THE TRAIL. Smooth sailing. Everyone should experience an overnight at Packwood Lake. Beautiful!

About 10 miles round-trip. With only a light backpack, and stops for photos on the way, the hike was 2-2.5 hours up, and 1-1.5 down. Except for one or two steep parts that aren't exceedingly long, the hike is a gradual uphill that most won't struggle with. If you're thinking of turning back early, don't. The views get better and better until you're actually at the Observatory. Highly recommend.

a hard hike but so worth it.

Hard as hell for a beginner but worth it

Still too much snow on the road to get to the trail head in my jeep

Great trail for a family walk with young kids. Beautiful park and trail. The kids loved all the animal sightings, which included nutria, deer, turtles, and so many birds.

The park is a nature preserve, so that comes with a lot of restrictions; no dogs, no bikes, no trail running. These restrictions made for a very peaceful and relaxing experience.

Also we did not have to slog through spring mud thanks to the well maintained gravel trail.

I’ll be taking the family back in a few weeks so we can check out the other path that is only open seasonly.

hiking
1 month ago

This was my first time here and I did the trail clockwise, starting at the southern entrance near the signage, and wish I had gone the other way! I still had a lovely time but felt my views would have been better going counter clockwise.

Either way - lovely hike, excellent views and well maintained trail. A little muddy in spots and some bigger branches but all easy to get around.

I started at 6AM and it was very windy in some of the more exposed spots of the trail. Was the only car in the lot when I began and there were four others by the time I finished around 730.

hiking
1 month ago

Moderately easy hike with gradual elevation gain, great views of crater/blast-zone, in an other-worldly setting. the lack of trees and piles of rock and ash resemble the surface of the moon. very cool for a day hike. trail is in great condition.

1 month ago

Enjoyable scenic hike.

hiking
1 month ago

Beautiful views of the snow covered mountains, on this clear April day (last time we came, it was overcast). Nice trail for our group, ranging 10yr - early 60’s. We saw some beaver, water fowl, other birds and a few other hikers. There are restrooms not too far from the trail head. Good way to spend Earth Day :)

hiking
1 month ago

Awesome hike! Did this two days ago and loved how it gave total views of Mt. St. Helens, the blast zone, and the forrest. Lots of trails are still closed, and the overlook doesn’t open until May 16th, so check in with the visitor center to see which trails will be open for you to use.

A beautiful, quiet snowshoe with the dog. Saw not a soul on the pine marten or June lake trail that morning. Still about 3 feet of snow at the lake, had to break my own trail from about .25 miles out. I was surprised there was not more foot traffic, but glad for it. Roads plowed / all asphalt getting to marble mountain.

hiking
1 month ago

Could not get to trailhead, roads are still covered in 5+ ft of snow above 3000'

Looking forward to visiting again in after June.

Great family hike!

Great for families. It’s a nice, flat, gravel trail filled with wildlife. We saw Hawks, Bald Eagles, and a Huron eat a snack.

hiking
1 month ago

We were the only people at the bottom. Complete solitude and serenity with amazing views of the mountain. Logs from the blast still float along the edges of Spirit Lake. While the hike is steep its only a mile down and a mile up. Take down some lunch and enjoy the beauty.

Beautiful hike with great views of St. Helens. I went in mid March and there was still snow in some places.

Nice easy stroll for a bird watching and general wildlife watching.

snowshoeing
2 months ago

Did an overnighter last Saturday. Great trail for snowshoeing. Spent the night in hammocks. Fun times

Hiked to the High Hut on Monday, 3/5/18. Good conditions, saw 28 people on the trail, most were coming down. Trail is well groomed. View at the top was awesome, even though Rainier was in the clouds. Gaia gps had the trail at 8.12 miles, round trip, from the lower parking area.

backpacking
3 months ago

Did an overnigher to Packwood Lake 2 weeks ago. 4.5 miles one way. 1.5 to 2 hrs each way. First overnighter this early in the year. Normal hike in with snow the last mile to the lake. It was cold, in the low 30's hiking in. Setup camp, started a fire and had dinner. Beautifully calm lake with an orange Johnson Peak in the background at sunset. It got down to the high 20's overnight. We were greeted with a warm sunrise as we had breakfast and tore down camp. Only saw 3 other people doing the same thing we did. Left around 10:30am. It's amazing how much elevation gain you loose on the way back, yet the elevation gain hiking in is so gradual you don't even notice it. This was my first real winter overnight and something everyone should try, with the proper cold weather gear of course.

So much fun. Easy enough for my 6 year old to hike as well. We took the upper trail in and the lower trail on the way out.

snowshoeing
3 months ago

This is a five star snow shoe. Some of the lower rating are off season as these are pretty much for the snow shoe trails. If I am not mistaken its like the only real snow shoes trail system in out area. Any trip you take is worthy whether you see Rainier or not. On Sunday the road was free and clear of any snow to the 3000' level. This does change daily and can change quickly so be advised. The snow was a tad wet but there was no rain due to a Pineapple Express. The hike to the High Hut is a steady up hill grind but take your time and you will be fine. It takes roughly 1.5 to 2 hours with a steady pace. Here you can take off your boots and relax. There is probably some tea in the drawer and a tea kettle always sits on the stove. There is a fireplace if you feel the need. Usually during the day the huts are pretty warm anyways. Enjoy this awesome place as well as take care of it as its operated only by volunteers who spend a great deal of time keeping the huts and trails in tip top shape. Thanks MTTA!

hiking
4 months ago

Hiked Packwood Lake today. 9 miles RT. 1.5hr each way using the upper trail and started at 11am. This is the earliest in the year I've ever hiked it. The parking lot was empty. 3 Cars counting mine. The weather was excellent, sunny and no snow at trailhead. The temperature was in the high 40's and low 50's. Perfect. I ran into snow about 2 miles from the lake and spotty in the beginning. It was steady snow around 1.5 miles from the lake and oddly enough...the last 1/8 mile was virtually snow free. The snow was about 1-2 feet deep and well tracked. Pretty crunchy so you didn't sink or get too wet. Beautiful though. No snow at the lake but a thin layer of ice over top that made beautiful breaking sounds with the wind. One the best times to go. I had the lake to myself and easy travel even in the snow. It's still early. Not sure the amount of snow after this weekend. Snow or not...a must do.

This trail was my first time being close to Mt St Helens and I was stunned at how beautiful and up close and personal it was! I did this hike in September. The trail is exposed so bring more water than you expect. A lot of ups and downs! View of Helens are constant, but the final grand view with spirit lake in the foreground is definitely worth the work.

hiking
6 months ago

Hiked this today with my wife, my 9 year old daughter, and my 7 year old son. It was a fantastic trail with amazing views. The loop had a perfect mix of trail covered with trees and openings with scattered rocks and mounds. Saw quite a few hikers on the loop. Clean trail, but we did pick up a plastic bag and a water bottle. Plenty of poison oak so watch out.

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