no dogs



nature trips

wild flowers



kid friendly

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.

A really unique hike. I did it solo and quickly felt it would have been a better time with a few other people. Make sure you have at least two durable and dependable head lamps. Some rock scrambling is necessary. Hiked March 6th, and it was warmer in the cave than outside, at about 40*.

it was about a year ago that I went on this trail but it is super cool and unique, very beautiful. I am a Utah residing Washington native and this is probably my favorite hike of all time. I would, however, recommend bringing a sweatshirt, a headlight, and a handheld light (per person). Extra batteries wouldn't hurt, either. I love this trail, though!

1 month ago

be sure to get a snow pass for 23 dollars which can be purchased at the local store before the trail otherwise it's a 100 dollar fine. slushy snow at the start you have to walk about three quarters of a mile to the cave entrance due to snow. cave drips from the ceiling all throughout snow is at about 3ft right now upon departing the upper cave entrance. kind of a tight squeeze here and there. hardest part of cave is a 6 ft shear faced wall you have to actually climb up. not really for the faint of heart be sure to have a fully charged flashlight or headlamp because it's a cave and its pitch black, there's an opening in the ceiling about 4 fifths of the way through the cave, thats when you know you've almost made it. to get back down the mountain follow the blue/green diamonds. enjoy be safe check for conditions and landslide information before heading out.

Great hike.. We did upper half in and back.

Great snow shoe
We walked in to the the equipment and really enjoyed the day .

Tried to do Harry’s Ridge but the access road was closed right after the trailhead to Coldwater Lake. It was a nice enough hike on a clear blue sky day. Views of the lake and some surrounding mountains somewhat monotonous but still very beautiful and peaceful. Not many out on the trail at all on a Sunday.

Wet and dark. The rock formations are nothing that special. We did the lower cave first but probably could've skipped it.

This was the best hike!! We had an incredibly clear day, sunshine all the time with crazy views. Took us 5 hours up and 5 hours down (we didn't rush down, this can definitely be done faster but we took our sweet time).
We went late October and there was quite some snow, so light crampons or some sort of traction is really helpful. We also had gaiters which helped, but I'm sure people will argue you don't necessarily need it. However, it's a hard hike and whatever helps, right? Totally worth every step though!

on Butte Camp Trail

4 months ago

Finishing stretch of two night trip! Glad we were heading downhill!

4 months ago

Hiked on 10/31/17. Saw a mountain goat.

Awesome butt kick trail

4 months ago

It has everything! A big waterfall, lots of views of mountain ranges, adventure/ rope ascents&decents, AMAZING COLORS in the late fall! Totally underrated backpacking trip!

4 months ago

I think the idea of hiking this trail was more attractive than actually hiking it. It was dark 90% of the time during my hike there. There were maybe 3-4 cool spots worth checking out but that's about it. If you like cave-hiking, then this would be for you (not really my thing). And like pretty much everyone else say, bring headlights and wear sturdy shoes!

5 months ago

A great challenge

5 months ago

So pretty! But the difficulty rate should be moderate, not "hard".

5 months ago

Long lave tube hike--remember to bring high-quality flashlight! Pay to park so bring cash.

Awesome hike but you better hope for a view when you get there. We car camped at the TH and was able to hit the trail at 6 am. I think 5 am would have been better for the next time though. The first two miles were through the woods at a nice grade providing a warm up for the tough hike to come. After popping out of the woods it endless rocks and ash. One should have gloves to protect themselves from the abrasive rocks. All you need to do now is follow the posts. The trail involves walking and squeezing through large rocks or on ash. There is no groomed trail here. The trail is easy to follow when there is good visibility as well. About a hour before the rim the wind picked up, which is pretty common. Just be prepared for the wind and some cold weather and you will be fine. There was really no snow that couldnt be avoided until the last few feet. I didnt use spikes but had them., some in my group used them though. On the descent they were more useful. Poles are a pain on the way up but useful on the way down.

I was there with a few friends and if it was summer and warmer no view wouldnt have been a big deal. Since I was there at this time of the year and it was cold and windy I am glad we had the view and not so sure I would have left the car if there was no visibility on top of the wind and weather.

5 months ago

One of my must do trails when visiting the Northwest. Trails suitable for all with the upper cave being more advanced. Upper cave offers some fun rock scrambles and a few other obstacles such as a lava fall. Lower cave is really forgiving and allows all levels to enjoy the strange enviorment. Bring good lighting so you can see all the wonders or you can rent a lantern at the trail head. Lights, Camera, Sweatshirt and you're off!

5 months ago

Awesome/ beautiful place to explore caves. Having headlamps would be better so you can use both of your hands to climb up and down the rocks, but flashlights work too. Once you reach the end of the cave you’ll be on the other side and you just walk back to the beginning of the cave which is the entrance/exit. You’ll be surrounded by trees and walking on old dry lava which is pretty cool. There will be flags around to direct you on the right trail.

Absolutely stunning views! Hit the trail head about 0615 & made it up to the summit about 4.5 hours later. This climb was the most challenging yet. Mentally and physically having to push myself to keep going. So happy for the reward at the top!
I suggest some experience with outdoors and hiking and moderate physical shape to complete this. Leave the dogs and kids at home!

We did this in 2015 in a down pour & high winds. It was terrifying (for me). We made it to the summit and I'm glad I pressed on to the top!

Very cool. Highly recommend a head lamp, gloves and good sturdy shoes. The 8ft wall has one foot hold, it's a bit tough but if you can't get up it your hiking partner might be able to give you a boost. I would rate it on the difficult side of easy not moderate.

This is such an amazing climb. I trained for this all year pretty much and it was so worth it. I started at 5:40am. I wanted to give myself a full 12 hours to experience this. I wasn't going to rush to the top or break any records here. My husband walked me through the forest to as far as he could go then from there I was solo - only there are plenty of other people climbing it! The first part is easy as it's extremely level but after that it's pretty much straight up through a combination of rocks and ash. Then you hit the boulder field. What a work out. This made me wish I'd done more of an effort to lift weights or do more push ups in preparation for it but I managed through it just fine. The ash field is walking through sand up a steep hill. I found this the hardest part of the climb, mostly because it's frustrating. One step up, two steps back. Then there's the summit. It takes your breath away. The day I did it (Sept 3rd) the forest fires in Oregon had just started more or less and the smoke covered both Mt Adams and Rainier. We could also see smoke from the start of the eagle creek fire too. I sat and admired my view for about 25 minutes before heading back down. Took me about 7 hours to summit and 4 to get back down.

I took 6 liters of water with me plus an extra liter I hid in the tree line near the last toilet. Helped a lot on the way down
Also had gloves for the boulder fields as it's pumice and can cut up your hands.
Salt tablets helped too plus lots of snacks. I had so many I was able to share with a bunch of people too. Took 2 sandwiches and only ate one. I also drank a liter of water with nun before starting the hike.
Sunscreen. Lots of it.
Shorts to change into. Got so hot on the way down.
Sunglasses for sure.
It's a bucket list hike. Highly recommended!!

5 months ago

Upper caves review: HARD. Wear a headlamp you will need both hands to help you climb and scale the MANY rock piles. 8ft lava wall you will need assistance getting up unless you are an experienced rock climber/bouldering person. Helpful to have good balance and steady footing otherwise I imagine it would take longer to complete trying to find your footing throughout. We completed the roughly 1.5 mile trek in about 1 hour and 45 min. Stopping a few times for rest and to take in the amazing views of the caves. No pets, not good for small kids, was a hike to remember for sure!

We really enjoyed this hike. See my recording for more details.

Consistently under reports mileage. Annette lake was actually 8.4 miles and lake serene was 9 miles. They under report mileage.

5 months ago

Very cool trail! It is definitely cold inside the caves, so bring a sweatshirt. Also a headlamp is a must!

5 months ago

I took my son and two nephews on to Mount St. Helens on Saturday, September 22nd, 2017.

The parking lot for Ape caves was completely full as would imagine it is on every weekend during the summer.

There's a shop that sells souvenirs and rents lanterns for your cave exploration experience. I recommend the use of a headlamp so your hands are free to assist you as you will soon be walking around and scrambling over several boulder fields in the cave.

That being said, this is the perfect place for an alternative hike when summer temperatures soar as the cave is said to maintain a steady 42°. It's an experience everone should have at some point!

6 months ago

Great hike with breathtaking views at the top near Loowit trail. There is a short segment of maybe 0.1mile near the end that is a narrow with a steep dropoff. The trail is made of loose stones and gravel, and has started to give way slightly at 2 points. Use caution.

Load More