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#3 of 104 national parks in United States of America

Best trails in Mount Saint Helens National Volcanic Monument

3,911 Reviews
Looking for a great trail in Mount Saint Helens National Volcanic Monument, Washington? AllTrails has 33 great hiking trails, trail running trails, mountain biking trails and more, with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers, and nature lovers like you. Gearing up for a challenge? There are 16 hard trails in Mount Saint Helens National Volcanic Monument ranging from 8.2 to 33 miles and from 2,513 to 8,284 feet above sea level. Start checking them out and you'll be out on the trail in no time!
Description

At 8:32 Sunday Morning, May 18, 1980, Mount St. Helens Erupted Shaken by an earthquake measuring 5.1 on the Richter scale, the north face of this tall symmetrical mountain collapsed in a massive rock debris avalanche. In a few moments this slab of rock and ice slammed into Spirit Lake, crossed a ridge 1,300 feet high, and roared 14 miles down the Toutle River. The avalanche rapidly released pressurized gases within the volcano. A tremendous lateral explosion ripped through the avalanche and developed into a turbulent, stone-filled wind that swept over ridges and toppled trees. Nearly 150 square miles of forest was blown over or left dead and standing. At the same time a mushroom-shaped column of ash rose thousands of feet skyward and drifted downwind, turning day into night as dark, gray ash fell over eastern Washington and beyond. Wet, cement-like slurries of rock and mud scoured all sides of the volcano. Searing flows of pumice poured from the crater. The eruption lasted 9 hours, but Mount St. Helens and the surrounding landscape were dramatically changed within moments. A vast, gray landscape lay where once the forested slopes of Mount St. Helens grew. In 1982 the President and Congress created the 110,000-acre National Volcanic Monument for research, recreation, and education. Inside the Monument, the environment is left to respond naturally to the disturbance.

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Map of trails in Mount Saint Helens National Volcanic Monument
Park information
Acreage:
110,000 acres
Contact
360-449-7800
Helpful links
Top trails (33)
#1 - Mount Saint Helens Summit via Ptarmigan Trail
Mount Saint Helens National Volcanic Monument
hardYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow Star(1005)
Length: 8.2 mi • Est. 6 h 24 m
There is a $5 fee to park at the trailhead. Other passes include: America the beautiful ($80/yr), Northwest Forrest ($30/yr) A summit/climbing pass is required above the timberline, so get one and get your slog on! In the summer, this is a nice and tough hike. In the winter, it can be turned into a snowshoe/climbing route. Permits are now obtained online. There are 2 primary routes: the "summer" (Monitor Ridge) route starts at the Climber's Bivouac trailhead. The "winter" (Worm Flows) route trailhead is at Marble Mountain Sno-Park. The weather forecast should be checked prior to climbing. It's best to start very early in the morning for either route. Both climbs rise steadily as you go up in altitude. The wind and the altitude can affect many climbers but as with all physical activity being in shape to attempt these climbs is a must. At the summit, you have amazing views as long as there are no clouds. Glissading makes the trip much faster coming down as long if there is enough snow. Great trip overall. Recommend climbing in spring or early summer right around the time that the Climber's Bivouac opens. The Worms Flows (Marble Mountain Sno-Park) is an option if winter snows have made Climber's Bivouac inaccessible. Although strenuous, both of these non-technical climbing routes are suitable for people in good physical condition who are comfortable scrambling on steep, rugged terrain. Most climbers complete the round trip in seven to twelve hours. While climbing to the crater rim is permitted, entry into the crater is strictly prohibited. Mount St. Helens is an active volcano in southwest Washington State and the central feature of the Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument. Mount St. Helens is a popular climb for both beginning and experienced mountaineers. Although people are able to climb Mount St. Helens year-round, late spring through early fall is the most popular season.Show more
#2 - Harry's Ridge Trail
Mount Saint Helens National Volcanic Monument
moderateYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow Star(569)
Length: 7.8 mi • Est. 4 h 12 m
Get a panoramic view of the devastation from the Mt. St. Helen's Crater, to Spirit lake and beyond. Not to be missed! This is an incredible route for getting a sense of the total devastation from the 1980 eruption. You'll hike with the crater in front of you or on your right most the way, then turn towards the east mountains as you make your way to Harry's Ridge. From Harry's Ridge you'll view the crater, Spirit Lake with logs from the eruption still sliding across the lake back and forth with the wind, and on up towards the furthest parts of the damage. Along the way, in the right season, you'll find berries and wildlife. If you're lucky, you'll return as the Elk head off the mountain into the valley to feed and rest for the night - they'll be on your right most the way back. $8/person day use fee that can be paid inside the Johnston Ridge Observatory (the start of the trail).Show more
#3 - Ape Canyon Trail
Mount Saint Helens National Volcanic Monument
hardYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray Star(320)
Length: 11 mi • Est. 5 h 16 m
This is an incredible trail. Safe to say there is nothing quite like this anywhere in the states. You climb through a forest that somehow survived the blast of St. Helens with views getting better and better the farther you climb. Then, you pop out of the woods and begin traversing the Plains of Abraham.Show more
#4 - Coldwater Lake Trail
Mount Saint Helens National Volcanic Monument
moderateYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray Star(245)
Length: 8.8 mi • Est. 4 h 4 m
As of June 2020, both the boat ramp and the Birth of a Lake parking areas are open. Gorgeous trail following along the northern side of Coldwater Lake. Trail can be made into a much longer loop at about 4.5 miles in. If you'd like to do the longer loop, however, it is recommended starting from a trailhead on Spirit Lake Highway and following the lake counterclockwise. Please see nearby trail "South Coldwater Trail to Lakes Trail Loop" for the full loop route. Start at the trailhead just left of the boat launch.Show more
#5 - Norway Pass via Boundary Trail
Mount Saint Helens National Volcanic Monument
moderateYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray Star(153)
Length: 4.3 mi • Est. 1 h 43 m
Note: The roads leading to the trailhead may be closed during the winter season. A Mount Margaret Backcountry permit is needed for any overnight camping in the area.Show more
#6 - Loowit Falls Trail
Mount Saint Helens National Volcanic Monument
moderateYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray Star(92)
Length: 8.1 mi • Est. 4 h 3 m
The first part is a walk along a forest road (closed to the public) to the actual trail. It is worth taking a stop at the recording station just a little way in to read the plaque and appreciate the view. Upon reaching the trail, you cross what looks like a dry riverbed, and round a shady bend with a lovely small patch of forest. From there you start up the actual debris flow, and the view just never stops being breathtaking. It looks deceptively easy from here, but make no mistake, you are constantly dipping in and out of runoff channels, and many of these dip are more of a scramble than a hike. About 3/4 of the way in, you'll come to a small creek surrounded by trees, but do not stop just yet. You can hear the much larger creek coming from the spring just a few feet down the trail, and this is where you want to stop and rest. This is truly a little oasis. You can see the water erupting from nothing, and the water here is incredibly cool, clean, and refreshing. There are lots of boulders to sit on. From here, it's a short hike to the fork up to the falls. The trail up to the falls viewpoint is not particularly steep, but much of it is just waking on volcanic debris, and it is harder than it looks. The end of the trail is marked by a large rock pile, and the view of the falls from here, as well as the surrounding gorge are unforgettable. You also have views of the top of Mt Rainier, and Johnston ridge from here. The walk back down to the main trail is much easier, and there is the chance of spotting mountain goats. The rest of the return trip is really not much easier than the trip in, because you still are dipping in and out of runoff channels. That said, you are facing spirit lake, and the views continue to boggle the mind. Mount Adams is your constant companion for the last segments of the hike, and taking the time to appreciate the geologic history laid bare in the naked rocks is a great way to kill time. Along the road for the last couple of miles, you can see layers of pumice from multiple eruptions over the centuries, and, and the spectacular colors of the rock comprising the surrounding valleys.Show more
#7 - Boundary Trail to Coldwater Peak
Mount Saint Helens National Volcanic Monument
hardYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow Star(159)
Length: 11.9 mi • Est. 6 h 40 m
The first few miles of this hike snakes around the hills across from the crater on steep hillsides that were scoured by the 600mph blast. It's not until you reach the St. Helens Lake area (formed by the eruption) that more than splintered tree bases can be found. In the winter time, the area between St. Helens Lake and Coldwater Peak tends to be covered in snow.Show more
#8 - Loowit Loop Trail
Mount Saint Helens National Volcanic Monument
hardYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow Star(92)
Length: 33 mi • Est. Multi-day
#9 - South Coldwater Trail to Lakes Trail Loop
Mount Saint Helens National Volcanic Monument
hardYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray Star(151)
Length: 11.6 mi • Est. 6 h 2 m
#10 - Butte Camp Trail
Mount Saint Helens National Volcanic Monument
moderateYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray Star(87)
Length: 7.1 mi • Est. 4 h 1 m
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