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Ape Canyon Trail is a 9.6 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Cougar, Washington that features a river and is only recommended for very experienced adventurers. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from May until November. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

Distance: 9.6 miles Elevation Gain: 2,083 feet Route Type: Out & Back

dogs on leash

camping

hiking

mountain biking

nature trips

bird watching

forest

river

views

wild flowers

wildlife

rocky

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.

icy
snow
10 days ago

I went with my dog on Saturday, a cold but sunny day and it was gorgeous! I got there about 0930 and I was the only person in the parking lot! Getting to the parking lot, I did fine but with the snow and icy patches, there were several sections where someone had slid off the road and into the ditch. I drove slow and carefully and didn't suffer the same consequences. Before I took off on the trail, I put my spikes on. I wasn't sure if I needed them, but I didn't want to hassle with putting them on while on the trail. I'm glad I did! The snowy trail started soon into the hike. My spikes and my hiking poles were just what I needed to feel secure to traverse this well beaten path. Lots of pretty views, switch backs, and animal prints in the snow (bear, and mountain goats). It was a wonderful hike!!

backpacking
23 days ago

Awesome landscape and views! Saw loads of mountain goats, rain stayed away until 8pm, St Helens was in full view around sunrise and rain came back on our way out, highly recommend this trail!

hiking
1 month ago

No words. Beautiful wooded trail that emerges to incredible views of Mt St Helens. I could only imagine the mud roaring down the mountainside almost 40 years ago leaving the pristine forest. Incredible views of Mt Hood, Adams, Rainier, and evening Old Snowy. Saw Mountain Goats too.

hiking
2 months ago

This is one of our favorites for sure. We love the winding trail through massive, towering pines, so still and peaceful! In the fall the changing colors of the vine maples is fantastic. On a clear day there are several viewpoints along the way of St. Helens, Adams, Rainer, and Hood, but of course the best view is at the end. Mt. Saint Helens is awesome and seems so close! We've hiked this trail several times and seen mountain goats every trip. Today one even passed fairly close by to the trail overlook. Sadly I only caught the hind end, but others ahead of us got a great look. The trail was busy today with hikers and mountain bikers, but we never felt crowded.

hiking
2 months ago

Beautiful trail. The first four miles have small views of the mountain and you are essentially staying in the forest. By mile four it opens up to the clearing and you are close to the mountain. I didn’t see anyone for the first half of my hike and saw about 10 people on the way down. I personally didn’t see any black bears either. I used this as a trail run, I would list it as moderate.

hiking
2 months ago

So beautiful and not a ton of people. Really cool landscape. Easy to get to. Did see a baby black bear so keep a lookout!

hiking
2 months ago

Nice moderate hike. Went on a partially cloudy day. The hike starts to the right of muddy river lahar and goes to the old growth forest. This trail is busy with mountain bikers. Nice view points in the last mile and the clouds cleared when we were at the top. Saw two black bears and over a dozen mountain goats near the plains of Abraham. So, yes it was totally worth it. The top of the hike is amazing and would do more hiking going around the top in spring/ summer.

hiking
3 months ago

Great views if you go all the way, there are two camera shots on the way but the whole 4.5 miles is in a forest with no views, but great shade, so I will take shade over constant view of mt st Helen. At the top you can Mt Hood, Mt Adams, Mt Rainer, and Mt. ST Helens! If you have 4-5 hours for a lot of elevation gain, it’s worth the views!

hiking
3 months ago

Amazing hike. Go on a clear day and you’ll have views of St. Helen’s (obvious), Hood, Rainier, and Adams. It was not really that hard of a hike. I’d say more of a moderate.

hiking
3 months ago

Good trail for mountain bikes or back packing but not great for hiking. The first 4 miles do not have great view points, just walking through wooded area. Nice view points are in the last mile. My alltrails app logged total 10.8 miles.

hiking
3 months ago

Lovely trail with amazing views of the surrounding mountains. I would rate this trail as moderate instead of hard.

hiking
3 months ago

Gorgeous trail, highlighting the varied terrain near the mountain. Early August and the wildflowers were stunning. Beautiful views at the top.

running
4 months ago

One of my favorites! Nice very, views, and valleys! Careful if you venture past ape canyon. Temps, terrain, and distances can really take a toll. Plan ahead and plan for extra everything if you do! Seems like 10 miles here is 13 everywhere else. Lots of friendly mountain bikers and hikers.

hiking
4 months ago

Carried a 35 pound pack up no problem. Through old growth forest with occasional peaks at Mt St Helens and the lahars flow. Camped at the top of the canyon. Rained overnight and in the morning Woke up to an eerie fog that lasted all day. Left my camping gear set up and took a smaller bag. Continued on to Loowit Falls out and back after my good nights rest. Then made the decent with all my gear. Fun 2 days on a volcano!

hiking
bugs
4 months ago

hiking
4 months ago

This trail has lots of potential but sadly I picked a rainy day. With that said I’d still highly recommend it. Don’t miss out on going beyond the trail junction to June Lake and Loowit to the Plains of Abraham. There is a natural spring adjacent to the trail about a mile down the trail along with a steep drop off. The view of St Helens has to be amazing on a clear day - I only caught glimpses in the clouds. I saw five mountain goats two with a kid each. Not many people on the trail although it wasn’t a great day for hiking also was a weekday. Total people seen hiking: 8; total mountain biking: 5.

hiking
4 months ago

Totally outstanding trail walking a ridge direct to wide open views of St. Helens and its meeting w/the Loowit. Way high on the southern slope. Old growth Dougy firs and hemlock make it even more enchanting. A place to behold what happened to the "other" side of the mountain on the morning of May 18th - a massive lahar canyo created; ripe for exploring and camping! Looking forward to hiking more of the Loowit, but would enter@June Lake or Lava Canyon, its closed, yes? When will Lava Canyon open again?

hiking
bugs
4 months ago

The best trail I’ve done in the PNW, such a cool place and amazing views. This hike is not hard difficulty, but it is longer so be aware. My Apple Watch logged 12.5 miles total, I would’ve done 20 for the views on this hike though. The first 2-3 miles were through the forest with only small glimpses of Mt St Helen, but after that there were amazing views for the rest of the hike. Absolutely recommend!! It’s something I think everyone should see in their lifetime, nothing like seeing the power of Mother Nature and the devastation from eruption almost 40 years ago. DO THIS TRAIL, you won’t regret it!

hiking
5 months ago

Did this on a Thursday in July. Very few people, met only three others. The first third in the forest had lots of blueberries and the view of St. Helens is very nice.

hiking
5 months ago

Beautiful hike! Wouldn't classify it as hard at all, pretty easy to moderate if you're in decent shape. Wonderful Forest opens up the gorgeous views of Saint Helen's and the destructive possibilities these volcanos hold in the PNW.

hiking
5 months ago

Return track only.

hiking
5 months ago

A definite favorite! More moderate than difficult. First part is through a forest with plenty of shade. The Plains of Abraham are otherworldly. Tremendous views. Can see Mount Adams and Mount Hood and Mount Rainier. Lots of wildflowers 4 days ago. Be courteous to all the mountain bikers and step aside when you hear them coming!

hiking
5 months ago

Okay.. I have some feelings about this. First, we need to discuss the difficulty rating system on this. This hike is not “hard”, in fact, the only difficult thing is quelling the urge to push the damn mountain bikers off the trail. The trail is incredibly mild, the view of Ol’ Helen is nice (even though you can summit it with ease). Also, this is not a lightly trafficked hike, many hikers, and more bikers. If you are like me..you know...someone who gets into nature to be alone and challenge themselves I would not recommend this hike. By the way, I did this 6/30/19

hiking
bugs
rocky
5 months ago

Great trail with amazing views. Almost too close to the mountain to see it all in one gaze. The difficulty was fairly accurate though I feel that it was a moderate trail bordering on hard for some people but overall not too bad at all. We completed it in just about 5 hours but that was with some hang time at the top and several photo stops. Will be doing it again for sure, possibly in fall.

hiking
5 months ago

Wonderful views and amazing sights. The trail is mostly smooth and easy to walk - it's the climb and the distance that make it hard. We met a few bikers and a few trail runners (two were traveling 22 miles that day) on the Saturday before the 4th of July, and not too many hikers. The trailhead parking area is small, but people had spilled out, in an orderly manner, into the road. Lots of old growth trees. The alpine area at the top is spectacular. Penstemon, Indian paintbrush and more were blooming.

hiking
5 months ago

A little foggy and cloudy in the morning. Steady, slow climb to Loowit trail junction. View of Adams, Rainer and Helens from there, and view of Hood on way down. Gorgeous!

hiking
rocky
scramble
snow
6 months ago

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