Ape Cave Trail

MODERATE 285 reviews

Ape Cave Trail is a 3.1 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Cougar, Washington that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round.

DISTANCE
3.1 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
433 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

kid friendly

birding

hiking

nature trips

trail running

walking

cave

views

wild flowers

old growth

rocky

no dogs

From Vancouver, WA, north on 1-5 to Highway 503, exit 21. Drive east 35 miles to Forest Service Road 83. Turn left and drive 2 miles to Forest Service Road 8303. Turn left and drive 1.5 miles to the trailhead on the right.

hiking
12 days 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.

3 months ago

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

hiking
3 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!

hiking
4 months ago

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

4 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!

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.

4 months ago

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.

4 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!

hiking
4 months ago

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

hiking
4 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!

5 months ago

Absolutely amazing. Difficulty is moderate as you are in the dark, on uneven ground, climbing, crawling, & shinmying. It was an incredible day. We did the lower caves. Weekends are busy & take longer. You will need good shoes & a headlamp. It was 48 degrees in the caves but we warmed up quickly with the amount of work we were doing.

hiking
5 months ago

Bring your headlamps and watch your head! The Ape Caves are fun to explore - and you have two options: difficult and easy. Worth the time to do both.

5 months ago

This was a really cool hike to go on with a group of friends. Anticipate some light climbing if you go the higher route. I didn't hike the lower. Bring a headlamp instead of a flashlight because it'd be easier for you to use your hands. Definitely check out all the smaller tunnels on your way through, but be careful because mountain lions do like to hang out in caves. There are. Beautiful pieces of nature and history inside this cave!

hiking
6 months ago

Wonderful hike! Make sure you bring flashlights. No dogs, but it is still really interesting and fun. Bring a jacket too! It was around 40 degrees when we were down there.

6 months ago

This was a perfect little hike. We took out grandson and daughter. definitely dress warm, and a headlamp or flashlight. maybe an extra just in case.

6 months ago

definitely a unique experience

hiking
6 months ago

This was a LOT of fun and I will definitely be doing this again! Plan to arrive early to avoid the crowds. We got there by 0830 and only encountered a few other hikers, but when we got back to the entrance the parking lot was full!

hiking
6 months ago

42 degrees and loving it!
Hiked the lower (.6mile) and then the upper (1.5mile) caves with my 7yo son on a 95 degree summer day. Refreshing and cool in the caves wearing pants and fleece. Light breeze throughout that picks up a bit in some narrower areas. 200lumem headlamps were perfect, with a backup for each person. Water drips intermittently from the ceiling through the cave system but did not get us wet. The rockfalls in the upper cave require careful foot placement and some use of hands. An 8' lava 'falls' in the upper cave could be a challenging obstacle to some. We emerged from the upper cave at the ladder about two hours later and hike the 1.5 miles back through the lava field. Great hike!

hiking
6 months ago

Very fun. The more difficult cave is a blast but you definitely gotta climb some rocks.

6 months ago

This is an awesome easy hike into the cave. Once you're in the cave, you do need some source of light albeit flashlight, headlamp, or cell phone flashlight. Inside the cave is dark and adventurous! You will have obstacles to maneuver!

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