Ape Cave Trail

EASY 349 reviews

Ape Cave Trail is a 3 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Cougar, Washington that features beautiful wild flowers and is good for all skill levels. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round.

DISTANCE
3.0 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.

22 minutes ago

There are 2 levels to this cave. The main tube (I think it's the lower cave) is really easy walk. We got bored with it and turned around. The other level ( upper cave) is pretty rough. The Rangers said that it is for more experienced cavers. People have had to be rescued due to concussions, broken bones and getting stuck. There's a wall that you have to climb over. Once you do that, there is no turning back and you have to continue onward. This was our first cave, so we didn't do that one. This is info that the Rangers shared with us. Have fun, but be careful!

hiking
9 hours ago

SO MUCH FUN. I’m so used to trail hiking that this was such a fun break! We did the lower cave first, then walked up the hill and went DOWN the upper cave rather than up. The rock scrambles in the upper cave are so cool and tons of fun to climb up, but going DOWN there are a few 6-8 foot drops you have to get down that are a little complicated (I needed help down one of them because I couldn’t reach the foothold). USFS and NW Forest Passes not sold on site from what I could see, so make sure you buy ahead of time. I used a flashlight and the flashlight on my phone because I left my headlamp at home. Would definitely suggest a headlamp, possibly gloves, and hiking boots to make your life a little easier on the way. Also FOR SURE dress in layers! The caves hang out at about 45*F year round! Lots of bruises from the rocks but it was totally worth it, one of my favorite adventures I’ve done to date!

hiking
2 days ago

Awesome hike! We took our 5 year old and he did awesome. There were some hard parts with climbing rocks but he made it through the whole trail! I suggest flash lights, gloves for climbing the rocks and hiking boots, no flip flops.

hiking
3 days ago

hard upper caves. but worth it

17 days ago

Very unique! Def make sure to take gloves and layers. It’s 40* down there. Wouldn’t recommend taking little kids through the whole length of the caves. Def a must see.

hiking
24 days ago

We did the upper level and it was very interesting with climbing over boulders, up walls, and through tight spaces. Definitely wear layers as it's very cold in the caves (you can see your breath). Hiking boots and headlamps are a must. You will need your hands for climbing. Wished I would have had some gloves. Overall, a fun hike that was challenging but not too strenuous.

24 days ago

We did upper Ape cave using our cell phone flashlights (put your phone in airplane mode so your battery lasts). Really fun! Lots of bouldering and fun trying to figure out which path to take thru the rocks. The 8 foot wall wasn’t too difficult even without a rope. My husband helped us by giving us an extra foot hold - helped! Hike is not for those who have only walked on flat, 3 mile trails in flip flops haha! Absolutely wear hiking boots and enjoy!

26 days ago

Awesome !!!! Lower caves get lame because of the crowds but still cool! We did upper and was less crowded and more adventurous. We brought our 7 year old and she did great!. UPPER CAVE IS NOT HARD! Group sizes (10+) were the only problem. If u hike here in WA often u will be fine! Some boulder scrambling and balance is all that is needed! Pro tip: bring head lamps and gloves... ur welcome! Those who rate this 3 stars or below simply do not belong here. Enjoy! Please remember that this isn’t a factory outlet!

26 days ago

we did the longer more strenuous loop and it was awesome!! make sure you have your headlamp though, you'll need both hands to get along some parts of this trail.

also. wear hiking boots. I saw a girl in tevas really struggling in there. poor decision on her part.

1 month ago

The upper tube should be marked as hard! The 8 foot wall has no rope and others had to help keep traffic flowing. Small children should not be going thru this area.

1 month ago

A big cave lol

hiking
1 month ago

Amazing walk. Definitely worth it to take the long route. But make sure to bring a jacket—the cave is far colder than exterior temp.

1 month ago

very cool experience.

hiking
1 month ago

Go slow and enjoy the cave

hiking
1 month ago

SO AMAZING! lower cave was mellow and dead ends, still tons to see and explore. Upper was quite the adventure! Scrambling over rocks and climbing 8ft walls... all worth it! Such a cool experience and my 8 year old brother was able to make it through, with much assistance of course. Head lamps are a MUST and it’s cold! The weather said about 75 up top today, it felt like 40-30 in the cave. Layers are your friend.
Keep the trail cleaner than you found it! It’s sad how much trash was seen today.

2 months ago

It’s quite a ways off the highway. Interesting if you are in the area.

hiking
2 months ago

Though I enjoyed my experience at the ape caves I think this rating is a bit misleading. There is a lower and upper trail in the caves and I would agree that the lower cave is easy. It’s a relatively smooth walk to the end of a lava tube and back with plenty to look at. However the upper cave I would rate as hard. There are tons of rocks you have to climb up and over which is a challenge in the dark. At one point you reach an 8 ft wall that has a rope and one foot hole to get yourself up it. Then near the end there is a huge boulder with a small gap that you also have to figure out a way to get over. My friend and I had challenges at both areas and had to in the end turn back at the boulder. Also bring plenty of light sources. The trail head says 2-3 per person and I would agree. I had a head lamp and a flashlight but it was still pretty dark. Also bring extra batteries if you plan to be exploring for a while.

2 months ago

I absolutely love the Ape Caves and the trail above and below is stunning.

Only downfall is how tourist driven this area is in the summer months.

hiking
3 months ago

I really enjoyed this (far more than I expected). We did the section with all the climbing over rocks. I did plan on returning with two nieces (ages 10 and 13) but I think I will wait a year or three to bring them to do that. I would worry about them falling but I absolutely loved it. It was wet in places and there were patches of snow on the ground when we came out the end. I also really enjoyed the walk on the trail from the upper part back to the car - great forest smells!

hiking
3 months ago

Pretty cool trail! The fact that you’re walking through these large channels of lava tubes is amazing. It’s nice to see the changes in height and width as you walk through as well as the draft that is created when you get to the narrow portions of the trail. Make sure you bring a couple of head lights and be prepared for it to get quite crowded.

3 months ago

challenging walk in the cave. don't go alone. went in with warm water and came out the other end with nice cold water.

hiking
3 months ago

super fun! bring a good head lamp and a warm jacket it gets cold in the caves!

walking
3 months ago

You have to pay for parking and the trail is pretty busy. In some spots I had to wait 15 min for people to get through funnels in the trail or climb over certain rocks. BRING A LIGHT SOURCE.

3 months ago

Was very fun, VERY easy. I only gave it 4 because I probably wouldn’t go all the way there to do it again. Pretty damp, wear boots for the water puddles and such. Great little trip with friends. Bring a bright headlamp and gloves! Enjoy.

hiking
4 months ago

hiking
4 months ago

Unlike anything I’ve ever done... make sure if you do the lower trail you are prepared to do a lot of climbing!

hiking
4 months ago

One of a kind! The road was closed but you can park and walk .8 of a mile to the trailhead. There is still snow on the trail. So waterproof hiking boots help a lot! We did the lower cave and it was very easy. We plan on returning this summer to explore the upper cave!

5 months ago

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*.

5 months ago

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!

hiking
6 months 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.

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