Looking for a great trail in Mt St Helens National Volcanic Monument, Washington? AllTrails has 25 great hiking trails, trail running trails, views 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 10 hard trails in Mt St Helens National Volcanic Monument ranging from 8.2 to 26.9 miles and from 2,516 to 8,284 feet above sea level. Start checking them out and you'll be out on the trail in no time!

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hiking

wild flowers

no dogs

walking

forest

wildlife

bird watching

nature trips

lake

kid friendly

backpacking

camping

trail running

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.

went in October and got lucky with weather!!
70 degrees at the base 35 degrees at the top; midday.
takes a while 10 hrs up and back.
forest, for the first 1/3
large rock for next half
soft sand for the last 1/4 mile
soooo worth it when u hit the top!
Need good knees going down.....

hiking
10 days ago

Ape Caves was a challenging winter hike, but at the end you will be truly happy you did it. During the winter you will need a Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission Sno-Park permit to park near the Ape Caves. The permits cost $20/vehicle. We purchased our permits at the “Cougar Store, 16842 Lewis River Road” The roads leading to the Ape Cave trail-head are very well maintained, plowed and salted, even after the 14 inches we received on Friday night. The final .8 mile of NF-8303 road leading to the Main Ape Cave entrance is closed for the winter, you will need to park the Trail of Two Forest Interpretive Site parking lot and hike .8 mile uphill to the Ape Cave parking lot and cave entrance. We trail blazed in knee high of fresh powder snow and it was exhausting. It took us 50 mins to hike from the Trail of Two Forest Interpretive Site parking lot to Ape Cave entrance. It should have taken 14 mins. It took us about 3 hours to hike the upper Ape Caves and then nearly 2 mile hike back down to the parking lot where our vehicles were parked. Do it...you will not regret it!

hiking
no shade
rocky
scramble
snow
22 days ago

hiking
off trail
scramble
23 days ago

Beautiful hike and a fall ( October)day going again in October 2019

Beautiful hike and a fall ( October)day going again in October 2019

hiking
28 days ago

Elk Bench Trail from Coldwater Visitor Center to lakes trail.

Oh my lord this cave is so unreal dope it’s not even funny. They let u just walk around and go rogue with a headlamp and u can just spend hours admiring the beauty of cave world. One of my favs in WA.

For a somewhat out-of-shape 50 year-old who used to be an athlete in my younger days, this was a great test of Character. Did it solo, as at the last week before, the others I was to be climbing with had to back out. Trained somewhat before doing this hike but not nearly what I would have liked to.
Very strenuous for me. Took almost 9 hours to do the round-trip. Thought I was in the clear after I got to the top but did not realize that coming down (Using hiking poles which, in my opinion is a must) was going to hurt even more. (Oh, my knees!!)
Even so, was a hike that I will remember forever.
If you leave early and pace yourself, it will be strenuous but doable and well worth it!!

hiking
2 months ago

Being from Colorado, this was one of the coolest trails I've ever done... walking in a cave for 3 miles. It's freezing down there, even during the summer. Bring a headlamp. It's so much easier than having to carry a flashlight.

The upper cave offers some cool scrambling opportunities on boulder piles. The amount of feces that looked and tasted like it came from a human was disheartening but not a bad trail otherwise.

nature trips
2 months ago

This cave is super fun we did the longer version. If you are scared of the dark and claustrophobic you won’t be a fan but if you want an adventure go for it. You will be climbing rocks and boulders at one point a rope helps you over a rock ridge. It’s fun!

Hiked this trail in the spring/early summer of 2018 this is a beautiful trail. the water is gorgeous! plenty of creek crossings with no bridges. There are bathrooms here if you park at the lake parking area. I parked at south cold water trailhead and there are no bathrooms there. Didnt see a lot of people when I went, maybe less than 10 and there were also not a lot of bugs out at this time. I would highly recommend this trail. I do believe that no motorized boats are allowed on this lake. If you do the loop from south cold water you do have to hike back to the trail head on the highway for a mile or two, which can get busy later in the day. Trail can also be narrow and steep at times if you are doing the loop. You do need a northwest forrest pass or national parks pass to park in any areas where a pass is required.

hiking
2 months ago

Hiked on Nov. 10th and there was no snow, though I imagine that has changed by now. Overall, a really amazing hike. Trail is well-maintained. The incline is not difficult and the views are awesome. It was very clear so we saw Helens, Adams, Rainier, and Hood. Opens up at the top and gets a little chilly but still a great place to stop for some lunch. Not many hikers when we went but still quite a few mountain bikers. Parking lot was full. I bet in the summer it gets a lot of traffic so be aware of that.

Done it twice. ready to do it again!

hiking
3 months ago

Driving the last ~mi on the way in is rough in spots but a car can make it, just take care. Excellent views at the very end above the treeline. All-around great hike with interesting landscape throughout.

My first major summit. It's a hard climb, but worth it at the top.

hiking
3 months ago

Just did this trail today. It was my sister and my 2 children ages 11 and 8 and they loved it! We did Ape Trail that was above ground and once we got done we walked back and then went underground. I’m not sure which one we did I’m seeing a lot of posts where people say they did the Upper Cave area but crawled and we didn’t crawl at all. It was an open area cave but pitch black. I used a head flash light and my cell light and my kids had their own lights as well. We didn’t finish the cave trail due to my son sprang his ankle . The terrain is very unsteady so watch your step. Other than that it was really fun and awesome. I’m definitely coming back but more in the spring or summer time. Happy Hiking!

3 months ago

Did the upper caves (the challenging ones) and absolutely adored it. It gets a bit challenging in some parts but I wouldn’t consider it very hard. I enjoyed all the way.
I would recommend wearing a nice coat since the temperature is Lower downt there and definitely two sources of light (head lamp and flashlight will do) some light gloves might be helpful as well and I wouldn’t take kids younger than 8 or 9 (not only for the physical part but the fact that it’s completely dark and might find it scary)

By the way, you will need a permit in dashboard of the car to park in the lot.

Awesome. That’s all that needs to be said.

hiking
3 months ago

Did both caves. Did this hike without hiking baby. And I would never do this with hiking baby. Helmet is a good idea for upper trail. Recommend 2 sources of light. 1 for use 1 for backup. You do not want to be in the upper cave without light. Rope is installed for 8ft climb. Was completely alone on upper cave. Honestly not smart to do upper cave alone. Learned my lesson on that one. I am a big guy and there is a lot of tight spaces. But I did it with a camera bag and backpack. Was alone for most of the lower cave.

Super day out there! Nice and sunny and trail was good. I would obviously still recommend mountain gear, poles, crampons etc. it was a great day! Trails were great!

Sumitted November 8th!... a bit chilly, but no wind at the top, and amazing sunny views! Definitely appreciated crampons near the summit. This is a challenging hike! I am an avid hiker and runner and my body hurts in ways it rarely does 2 days later... but well worth it!!

It was beautiful trail inside and out. We had our 1 year old son on my husband's back and were able to do about 95% of the cave until it was just too small to crawl through with a child on your back. the terrain is a but rough for a child under 4 to walk. We loved it.

hiked this on 10/28, got .15mi from the end and turned back due to snow and thunder. once we got back down 500ft or so it turned back to rain, and by the time we got back to the rock fields we had some sun and views of Mt St Helens. didn’t see anyone else which was kind of nice. trail was easy to follow, steep in some parts, and near the top some narrow parts with a sharp drop off. if you’re planning on doing this in the next few weeks, plan accordingly.

Super easy hike. The lower cave is very roomy and it’s a clear path back and out. It was a surreal experience as a first time cave-goer. My only complaint is that a duo near us had clearly been disregarding the signs not to smoke cigarettes in the cave. Without the side of fresh air, it felt like we were walking through an ashtray most of the way.

We went to the side of the upper cave. We reached a point where it seemed like it ended, so we turned around. When we were finished and left the caves and referred to the maps...we realized we hadn’t pushed on far enough and there was more to the upper cave. Will definitely go back to try it out.

Good lights- yes...I went cheap on a headlamp and it wasn’t quite bright enough for my liking

It was quite wet and drippy in there...a raincoat was nice to have.

Good, sturdy shoes. The ground is quite uneven.

hiking
3 months ago

Fun hike, went backwards starting from the upper caves. Completed 10-14-18

Hated it but intend to do it every year until I can’t!

hiking
3 months ago

I ran through the cave basically... really wired if you know what I mean.

Loved this hike! It wasn’t hot this time of year and we didn’t see a single other person during the entire hike. Some signs had broken and were on the ground, but we had a map and it was easy to figure out where to go. The falls were pretty light this time of year, but we did see a herd of elk while on the Loowit trail (after we left the Truman trail). We also heard rockfalls inside the crater. A ranger told us after we got back that this often happens due to micro quakes under the lava dome.

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