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Ape Cave Trail is a 3 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Cougar, Washington that offers the chance to see wildlife and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking and nature trips and is best used from March until October.

Distance: 3.0 miles Elevation Gain: 433 feet Route Type: Out & Back

kid friendly

hiking

nature trips

cave

views

wildlife

bugs

rocky

scramble

no dogs

Please note that the road leading to the trailhead may be closed seasonally due to snow. Please check with the Mount Saint Helens National Volcanic Monument for more information before visiting. This route involves scrambling and moving through small spaces.

recorded Ape Cave Trail

hiking
icy
muddy
rocky
scramble
snow
12 days ago

Hiked mid winter. Did upper caves. About an hour for the cave, then about an hour or less above-ground trek back. Make sure you get s pass and take care on the snowy roads. About half the cave portion is a scramble over, under and through what looks like the remains of old rock cave-ins. Few (1-3) areas where you have to climb up about 6-8 feet and a few (1-3) areas where you’re almost crawling through relatively tight passageways. Some graffiti. Far end of upper tunnel requires a climb up a cold, wet ladder for about 20(?) feet at about a 45 degree slope. Pitch black so I recommend a strong light, not just any head lamp. Hands free a plus. Wet and constantly dripping. Expect puddles and mud. Ground is wet but uneven and rough so grip/slipping wasn’t really an issue. Didn’t see any bats. Outside it was snowing. Trek back through the woods is easy, no significant elevation changes. Children and fat people may have difficulty on some climbs. Not for those scared of tight places, darkness, bats, getting dirty.

16 days ago

Neat trail. Bring a jacket and a head lamp!

hiking
rocky
scramble
27 days ago

hiking
rocky
28 days ago

Really cool cave. We did the hike backwards and we're glad we did because we had a little bit more solitude in the tunnel (4 stars because there were so many people and a lot with kids that were having trouble completing the hike). Dress warm and bring extras lights, we all had headlamps and an extra lantern. I would not recommend this hike if you're scared of the dark or claustrophobic. Also, if you have weak ankles make sure your boots are VERY supportive.

hiking
1 month ago

This is a fun hike into a long cave. Dress warmly! There are a few cool sights within. (August)

hiking
rocky
1 month ago

GPS stops inside the cave. Other than that pretty fun.

hiking
rocky
scramble
1 month ago

10/20/2019. Very wet day. Still a great experience. Bring a headlamp and backup light source.

2 months ago

so much fun!

wasn't 4.7 miles lol. gps got sletxhy underground!

hiking
2 months ago

Such a unique trail! It reminds me of cave trails I have done in Costa Rica and Belize. Definitely have high powered a flashlight. I would recommend having one on a lanyard you can wear around your wrist. Enjoy the experience! The wet, cold, and dark...it’s stunning.

hiking
scramble
2 months ago

Very fun both ends of the lava tube especially the scrambling and climbing over the boulders a challenging and unique hiking experience.

hiking
scramble
2 months ago

hiking
2 months ago

The most unique trail I’ve ever done. Felt like I was walking inside of an alien spaceship or on another planet. Wear a headlamp and maybe take another light source. I wore a down jacket and wished I hadn’t. It was extremely humid in the cave and I was sweating like crazy. There is quite a bit of scrambling involved as well as a rope climb/repel depending on which end you start at.

hiking
rocky
scramble
2 months ago

Loved this hike, it was a great mellow part after venturing through the cave system. There’s a ton of interesting cool flora and skylights in the cave. But don’t try to climb out !! Watch for bats (they’re harmless & endangered). We would recommend gloves pants headlamp (trust me your phone light won’t help lol!) maybe some snacks, water and hand sanitizer ! The bathroom runs out of hand sanitizer pretty quickly.

hiking
2 months ago

This is an incredible experience. If you have the chance to go, go! I recommend a head lamp for the upper portion visibility is low and carrying a flashlight can be precarious scrambling up boulders, but I did it. My husband had the head lamp and I was jealous the entire time. Definitely don’t skip the lower portion either.

hiking
scramble
2 months ago

hiking
muddy
rocky
scramble
2 months ago

Lower cave is super easy and casual. I skipped the belly crawl due to how crowded it was, but I did hangout and watch a few people. So I feel like I got the experience vicariously. It was pretty humorous lol. Upper cave: I ran this solo (like most of my trips), but it's definitely one you let someone know where you are going. I hiked to the "exit" rather than starting from the main stair. Great forest views and gives you a feel for the inside but without the rock walls. It was definitely easier to climb down the lava flows, but harder to navigate the breakdowns. Definitely bring a headlamp and a highbeam light. Gloves and boots for sure. If you find the lake, stick to the wall. It's deeper than your boots! I recommend this direction to those who get exhausted. Up the stairs and right to the car for a post cave nap! Don't forget your Squatch slayer....he's been hungry lately...

hiking
muddy
scramble
2 months ago

Lower cave is super easy and casual. I skipped the belly crawl due to how crowded it was, but I did hangout and watch a few people. So I feel like I got the experience vicariously. It was pretty humorous lol. Upper cave: I ran this solo (like most of my trips), but it's definitely one you let someone know where you are going. I hiked to the "exit" rather than starting from the main stair. Great forest views and gives you a feel for the inside but without the rock walls. It was definitely easier to climb down the lava flows, but harder to navigate the breakdowns. Definitely bring a headlamp and a highbeam light. Gloves and boots for sure. If you find the lake, stick to the wall. It's deeper than your boots! I recommend this direction to those who get exhausted. Up the stairs and right to the car for a post cave nap! Don't forget your Squatch slayer....he's been hungry lately...

hiking
rocky
scramble
2 months ago

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