Explore the most popular nature trips 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.

MAKE. SURE. YOU. HAVE. A. DISCOVERY. PASS. prior to leaving for this hike. The road to the trailhead is unforgiving if you don’t have a 4x4 vehicle or maybe a Subaru or the like. Upon reaching the trailhead, we noticed the signs requiring a discovery pass, yet there was nowhere to obtain one locally, not even a fee drop box. Luckily, we had just enough cell phone service to obtain one online and leave the info on a piece of paper that we left on the dash. 3 vehicles had tickets on them when we got there. The trail itself is steep and very rocky, so much care must be taken not to break an ankle or fall. Make sure you bring a headlamp if you may end up doing part of it in the dark. The views are INCREDIBLE at the top. Well worth the hassle to get up there. I agree with the hard rating. I have done some tough hikes, and this was taxing, but awesome overall. DO IT.

We never did find the hotsprings, but the trail to the suspension bridge is very nice, with some rocky parts.

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.

60 mile an hour winds at the ridge made it pretty difficult to go the entire distance but it was absolutely gorgeous with all the fall colors.

Have done this twice: last year in late June I did the loop and this year (while hiking PCT) I just went straight through Coyote Trail. It’s beautiful, but there is a lot of loose rock, meaning sketchy footing, meaning constantly calculating each step in order to not fall or skid down a steep cliff to critical injury. The trail is easy enough to follow, but not used enough or maintained enough for it to remain flat, so some slopped parts offer more obstacles. If you’re confident in your footing and not afraid of height, do it!!

Today I was going to do Cape Horn, but when I drove up the colors had not changed enough to be worth it. Instead I came to this old favorite. A beautiful day for a hike up and trail run back! It was worth it the colors had just changed enough. You can tell it’s been a dry year two on the main side creeks were completely dry, but the main Falls is as beautiful as ever. Not as crowded as normal. The road is much better than it has been in the past, but there are some pot holes. I have an all-wheel drive RAV4 and only had to slow down in one spot to put in perspective.

Road in and trail are in good shape. Other than 1 rotten tree down near the lake it’s a hike just about anyone can do. Can see why it’s one of the most used trails in the area. Lots of campsites and a few facilities once you get to the lake. Definitely is the flattest 1500 feet of elevation I’ve ever climbed lol. For the middle of October it was some great weather. Low 60s and lots of sun.

We were enjoying the fall foliage colors on the drive up so much that we missed the “Falls Creek Falls” trailhead sign and accidentally drove up another 10 miles. We turned around and found a nice local who told us where the trailhead sign was - I really think there’s only 1 sign marking this turnoff, which is on a blind corner. So watch for mile marker #15 and the access road is just around the corner on the right {if you are coming from Carson}. If you cross a short bride named Moore Bridge, you just missed the access road. Access road to trailhead had just a couple small potholes, which are totally avoidable.. it was a pretty smooth dirt road, though I’m sure it gets rutted up once the rain starts. Hike to the falls are 1.7 in with a slight incline as you get closer to the falls. We were short on time, so we came back down the same trail instead of doing the longer loop. Beautiful rich fall foliage colors are happening right now {Oct 13th}

This was by far my favorite hike of 2018. Challenging, beautiful, fun and plenty to see. Went of trail to get behind and underneath some waterfalls, but nothing too crazy!

hiking
4 days ago

Beautiful view at the top and short hike.

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

Don't believe the negative reviews, there are plenty of signs and I believe only two pot holes that I can remember. The road is well maintained and you can easily get to the trail head in a car (I did) and there is a large parking lot with a bathroom. It was absolutely beautiful, the fall foliage is incredible right now. I did however almost hit a heard of Elk so be watchful on the main highway!

lovely trail with gorgeous trees, creek and waterfalls. loved it!

Not kid friendly at all. Nice hike in, trail does have some steep slick rocky parts

As long as you don't expect grand views of the neighboring sites the walk to Lake Packwood was very nice.

Beautiful view of the falls

Finding this hidden gem is hardest part. We ended up passing it, making a u-turn and then just walking back. I suggest if you just google maps to Panther, park at the very large shoulder (it has a bunch of rocks as a slope to your right) get out of the car and walk back on the right side of the road. Once you see this small rock structure (it’s literally 3 rocks stacked on top of each other), there on the right side of that is the trail to Panther Creek. Short walk to the platform and there in front of you is the massive Panther Creek falls. Definitely worth the drive.

hiking
15 days ago

Absolutely beautiful!

Did this in the afternoon. There was a slight chance of rain but thankfully it held up. Sun shined down which made for some really nice picture opportunities with the fall colors. Even saw a big boar black bear over by Ed's trail from the summit, may want to carry bear spray just in case! If you want to catch the fall colors I'd get up there as soon as possible. Overall, it was a great trip only 2-4 other people that I saw on the trail.

Beautiful trail. Amazing views of St. Helens pretty much the whole way. The trail is well marked except for one spot - take "Harry's Viewpoint" for the trail to the top of the ridge.

It was a bit of a challenge for being out of shape, but WELL worth it

Beautiful trail to backpack in the fall. The leaves are vibrant and less people on the trail!

Without a doubt one of the most breathtaking hikes I've ever done. The views from the top are absolutely incredible. Completed it with my wife and our friend yesterday morning, and Fall is in full swing. Gorgeous colors all around. Strenuous going up, and slightly harder (for me anyways) going down because of all the rocks. Slow and steady and it was fine.

More like 15.8 miles and hard. I hiked counter clockwise, taking out the steep ascent first. Took walput lake trail to nannie ridge to goat lake to pct and back to walput lake trail. I was moving for 8.28hrs and on the trail for 9 hours. saw about 10 to 15 people on the trail, mostly backpackers. There is a designated parking area for the trail at walput lake with no fee charge, but I did hang up my NW forrest pass just in case. there is also camping here to for a charge. The road to get to walput lake is rough washboard with potholes and rockfall. max I was going 10mph in my Honda crv for an hour plus for 21 miles each way, if you're coming from Randal it's 33 miles to the lake. The lake road is paved although there are some parts that are damaged. There is also a horse camp at the lake. 2 bathrooms that I saw and a day use parking area at the lake front for a $5 fee. Pay at the information kiosk.
On the trail lots of ridge and switchback hiking. look out for horse poo, it's all over the place. In spring time probably a ton of creek crossings with no bridges. I hiked this on 9/24/18 and almost everything was all dried up. I'd also imagine the bugs would be crazy here in the summer. Goat lake is a good place to take a breather, but not the halfway marker. Make sure you have a map to follow as there are plenty of ways to get lost.
Walput lake at the parking area was nice to soak my feet in after the long hike I had completed. It's cold this time of year though and clear.
You have to fill out a backcountry permit at the trailhead, but when I went there were no slips and no pencils so I didn't do this.

This is a really beautiful and easy hike up to the falls. They're spectacular when you reach them. Saw lots of other people and dogs. The road to the trailhead was okay for my sedan. I was a little worried about the potholes but there were only one or two small ones and nothing too serious.

Ok, let me start by saying this hike is hard but totally worth it. Absolutely amazing 360 degree views of 5 Cascade peaks. The views from the top make up for the steep, rocky, uneven trail you have to navigate to get there. Pick a clear sunny day, and I would take trekking poles and sturdy shoes for sure. If you have any balance, ankle or knee issues, this is not the trail for you. Also wanted to mention that according to the all trails map, there is a section of trail that goes around the east side of Pyramid Rock and connects back to the main trail. We tried to take this on our way back down to make a lollipop loop but the trail very quickly vanished into the brush. We bushwhacked for a while to see if the trail cleared out again but it disappeared and we had to backtrack. We didn’t investigate the trail from the south junction, only the north, but it’s definitely not a viable trail option. Keep this one as an out and back. :)

hiking
21 days ago

Great Trail.. Love the waterfall at the end..

I wanted so bad to climb the Lava Tube..But thinking..will get stuck?

My husband and I selected this hike as our first backpacking trip as a couple. We have minimal backpacking experience so this one sounded like a good fit for us. We hiked out 6.15 miles (pretty much to the end of where this trail is marked) and turned around when it was getting time to find a place to spend the night. We hiked back about a mile to a water source with a wooden sign about 5 miles in from the trail head. We camped there for the night and really enjoyed the spot. It had a large flat spot under a few trees and a small flat spot down by the water. We saw only three other hikers in two days. We really enjoyed the fall foliage! This section of the PCT is relatively flat but we did enjoy having our poles for the few ups and downs. The lava rocks for the first 2 miles or so were really neat! We are glad we tried this hike, despite it not having a description. There is a privy by the start of the trail and parking area.

Such an amazing reward at the top of this steep and super rocky trail. It is incredibly uneven and can be slow going at spots but gorgeous and worth it.

We took our kids Labor Day weekend. The water was low enough that the kids could cross without getting their shoes all wet. It was relatively short hike, the lake was beautiful, and the kids loved all the little frogs.

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