Explore the most popular lake trails in Mt St Helens National Volcanic Monument with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

Hike was awesome! We went on Sunday, 13 MAY. Clear day, which made for some awesome views once you started climbing. Don’t get confused with the Coldwater Lake sign you see on the left-hand side. It is not the parking lot before for the trailhead for the hike. That parking lot leads you to nice boardwalk around part of the lake, which I clocked just over 1/2 mile. You will have to drive past that parking lot, down to the parking lot for Hummocks Trail since the road is still closed for Coldwater Lake. From the parking lot, you will have to walk around the barrier and walk on the road to the trailhead for Coldwater Lake. It is under a mile walk to the trailhead.

Hi friends! Sunday, May 13th, 2018 was beautiful at Coldwater lake. Flowers were juuuust starting out, with a few tiny Lupine, nice groups of Paintbrush, and beargrass shoots were working their way up. The small meadows were yet to bloom, so I’d imagine a couple weeks out it will be fantastic. The water was cold as heck even in shallow areas, but that’s to be expected.

At the far end of the lake and looking up towards the passes (opposite the trailhead), there seemed to be a moderate amount of snow on the slopes (looking up towards Snow Lake). I’d imagine if warm weather holds it won’t be too long before the little lakes up-trail will be good to go.


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.

6 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!

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

overall a ok hike don't like having to finish it up by a mile on the highway though.

Truly breathtaking

Actually wanted to hike the Harry Ridge trail but didn't see the exit so we hiked to the peak which had an amazing view. Steep though but it was worth it.

Just hiked the North side of the lake to the bridge. The trail is in excellent condition but for some wire sticking up. I went with 4 friends on August 1st and the heat was brutal. The hike says it is about 4.5 miles out to the bridge but we registered 6 on our fitness trackers. Make.sure to take a lot.of food and water if you go. Especially if it's hot. Lots of little springs to splash water on yourself. Very refreshing on such a hot day. I jumped into the lake at the boat launch when we got back. GREAT HIKE. Forgot to mention all of the scenery on the drive. Saint Helens is amazing.

Did this hike with a friend and the trail was in great shape. Lots of beautiful, quiet lake views, some pretty fantastic views of Mount St. Helens on the way in and for about the first mile of the hike. We didn't see any other hikers until the very end when we were almost back to the trailhead at the boat launch. I will come back to so this hike again with my 8-year-old daughter soon!

Some of the best views of mountains Ive seen this year.

10 months ago

Very easy hike. Crossed several small streams. Very enjoyable

We went the first weekend of July and all the wild flowers are in bloom. It was a little dry and in direct sun so bring a wide brimmed hat and shoes with good traction the ashy dirt gets a little slick. over all great hike with breathtaking beauty.

Beautiful view and pretty flat. Great place to take kids.

Beautiful hike. A bit slippery coming down by Coldwater lake. I fell a few times. I couldn't make the whole loop because of the snow. At one point I couldn't locate the trail anywhere so I ended backing out and this became a 15 mile day instead of 11. I would do this again next month.

Beautiful hike! We planned to turn around and back track once we got to the bridge, but the mile or so of heavy bushes, trees and bugs persuaded us to finish the loop and not go through it twice. I'm glad we did, the views are spectacular!

10 months ago

Definitely a unique perspective of Mt. Saint Helens. The trail is in good shape and the wild flowers were lovely. As it's completely out in the open, I'd highly recommend plenty of water and sunscreen.

10 months ago

Hiked this the first weekend in July and the trail was easy to follow (no snow). There are some parts that are overgrown before you get to the second split. I'd recommend wearing long pants to avoid the thorny bushes there. Overall a great hike, we came south to north and then walked back on hwy 504 to get to our car. The lake and wildflowers are beautiful!!

what a great hike! The flowers were incredible and the lake and mountain views were beautiful. This is an easy, relatively flat hike that would be great for kids. a lot of effort has gone into creating establishing and maintaining this trail, and although, as trails go, it is not a very old trail, it is really easy to walk on. There are places where the chain link fencing used to stabilize the ground is sticking up, so watch your step especially if you are running.
Was able to go for a swim after our hike and watched a fisherman pull a beautiful trout from the lake. I'll definitely be putting this on my list of trails to take out of town visitors to.
ps: the views of Mount Saint Helens on the drive-in are an added bonus exclamation point
ps: please excuse typos! fat/swollen fingers from hiking!

10 months ago

A unique look at Mt. St. Helens, about as close to the caldera as you can get. Bring sun protection as it's all out in the open

11 months ago

Great family outing. Perfect hike for all levels of abilities.

11 months ago

I did this loop in the summer of 2015 when it was very dry and water sources were limited.. Previous to my trip, I did quite a bit of research and was running into different reviews describing a wide spectrum of difficulties and troubles. I found that the trip isn’t that difficult with proper planning and I’m writing this review with some detail to try to help others who are thinking of going. The two biggest issues you have to deal with on this loop are 1) Access to filterable water and 2) traversing glacial washes and I’ll give my experience with both.

Before I do that I just want to say this trip was one of my favorites so far. It has a wide variety of landscape and terrain. There is the massive ravine of the Toutle wash, the devastation of the blast area, many boulder fields, and majestic veiws of Mt. Adams to the east. Every side of the mountain is different and interesting. Check out my photos!

First dealing with the wash/ravine crossings. Here is a link to current trail conditions. https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/giffordpinchot/alerts-notices/?cid=fseprd492502 There are many glacial runoffs around the mountain which have dug ravines that must be traversed by going down one side of the ravine, crossing the stream, and climbing up the other side. The majority of the crossings have gentle slopes and easy stream crossings. This can change as the water reshapes the ravines.

In 2015 when I went there were two significant ravine crossings. One was at Blue Lake Wash on the south side of the mountain, where the trail detours a ½ mile downhill, following the ravine to a crossable spot and then back up the other side. The other is at South Fork Toutle river. Either might have ropes to help you get down and back up. Neither is technical and can probably be traversed without the ropes, they just might it easier to do. I was also able to cross every stream without fording, but your results may vary depending on the time of year and day when you cross. The above forest service trail report seems to make it sound dangerous at parts, but it really isn’t. If you are an intermediate hiker with experience, the traverses should be no trouble.

Second is the issue of water sources. The above forest service conditions page lists the year round water sources on the trail. It’s important to note that there are many streams along the trail, but almost all of them are glacial runoff and are filled with dirt and sand which will quickly clog and ruin your water filter and are hence unusable. I met two guys on the east side of mountain towards the end of the day who hadn’t prepared properly and didn’t know where the clean water locations and had tried to pump muddy water, clogging their filter. They had about 1 litre each of water to get them back out to their car, so they were safe, though their trip was over prematurely. I recommend assuming that you will only be able to get water at the listed sources. It’s what I did and with a bit of planning it worked out just fine.

I started out by having a gallon of water at my car. I chose to start my trip at the Climber’s Bivouac. I carried 2 litres of water on me which I knew would get me to the first water source and camp site just south of the Toutle river crossing. There I got enough water for my evening/morning meals. In the morning I once again carried 2 litres of water as I knew this would get me the 8 miles up to the spring on the north side in the blast zone. It is a very nice cold spring, right on the trail, and the water is great on a hot summer day. Since the spring is in the blast zone, you aren’t allowed to camp there.

If you started at Climber’s Bivouac as I did, it is important to note that this spring is your last water source before you reach your car. If you do get in a bind, you can drop down to June Lake on the south side for water if needed. I instead decided to load up all the water I would need for the remainder of my trip at this spring. This required 6 litres of water by my calculations. 1 to get me to my camp for the night, 2 litres for dinner/breakfast, and 2 more to get to my car the next day where I had the remainder of my gallon of water. I added a sixth for fudge room. The big downside to this method is that you are carrying close to 20 pounds of water for few miles from the spring up over windy pass down to campsites near the Ape Canyon Trail. But so is life.

People will hike the trail both directions, though after doing the math, I chose clockwise from Climber’s Bivouac as this made gave me the shortest possible mileage while carrying 20 pounds of water. If it’s your first time out, you can just follow the way I did it and have a great time, getting a look and the trail and maybe doing a different way the next time.

My son and I hiked the entire loop on Saturday 5/27. The trail is snow covered about 2 miles in so we had to climb up and over to get back to the trail. There were several more snow covered sections further along but we were able to get through. At the Boundary Trail junction there is another snowfield with a bunch of alder saplings blocking the way. We didn't see anyone until we were on the north side of the lake. This was a beautiful hike with lots of elk and deer.

Such a beautiful day to be out hiking the lake to the waterfall.

11 months ago

it was the perfect morning for a hike and this trail was beautiful. we'll marked, almost totally dry, spectacular views, benches & am out house along the way. due to time restraints with my large group we only did a Mile out. I hope to return soon to do the whole thing.

we attempted this hike today, may 17th. wayyyy too early in the season for our comfort and abilities. snow pack at mile 2 (south trailhead) forced us into a 4 mile out and back instead of the loop. got deep and the trail was hard to identify even with the markers.

looking forward to going back when the snow is gone. beautiful views.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Great hike, easy due to no elevation gain, 5 miles to creek and 5 miles back. Waterproof shoes in spring! Lots of wildlife.

Monday, May 08, 2017

Incredibly beautiful hike!!

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