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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.

9 days ago

so much fun!

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

hiking
14 days 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
14 days 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
15 days ago

hiking
16 days 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
18 days 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
23 days 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
27 days ago

hiking
muddy
rocky
scramble
29 days 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
30 days 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
1 month ago

hiking
rocky
scramble
1 month ago

Arrived at the trailhead around 9:30am on a Sunday with lots of parking. Started in the lower caves, which were quick and pretty walkable. The lower tube narrows overhead and gets to a point where you’d have to belly crawl— I read that it opens up again but decided to skip it since we planned on doing the upper caves, anyways. We 100% misread the sign at the bottom of the stairs and thought that you had to hike to the upper caves to start (rather than starting in the same place as the lower caves) but it was fine! It was rainy when we went, so the surface trail had quite a few puddles/ lakes we had to walk through but we almost preferred the route we took, as we encountered a LOT of other people going the opposite direction. Disclaimer: It made some of the scrambles harder to navigate (I.e. having to crawl/ slide down backwards rather than climb up) but it was all doable! Wore a tank top under a warm long sleeve, and rain jacket, with waterproof hiking boots and long leggings/pants, as well as gloves. Was pretty soaked by the end of it (mostly from being rained on while hiking the surface trail) but stayed warm enough throughout the hike! Would maybe bring a beanie next time as my head lamp didn’t sit quite right over my rain jacket. Would definitely do this hike again!

hiking
1 month ago

We had a great time at both the lower and upper caves. We did see how far you can go in the lower so as a helpful note I’ll tell you, when it narrows way down and you have to crawl through on your belly, rest assured there is a small pocket of space to turn around in before crawling back but there is nothing else beyond that point. The uppers were so amazing and we loved climbing over the boulders and even the 8’high wall wasn’t too bad to pass. We went on a weekday and maybe 16 people total were at both caves combined. Super amazing and can’t wait to go here again. We brought: headlamps each and a small pocket flashlight, long pants and a light waterproof jacket. Next time I might bring gloves.

hiking
1 month ago

So fun and so cold! Bring a good flash light and a jacket.

hiking
1 month ago

The lower cave is great for kids! Don’t forget your forest pass. Or $5 cash for day use! Fun short hike

hiking
rocky
1 month ago

hiking
scramble
1 month ago

hiking
1 month ago

Amazing. We did the lower caves. You need a headlamp or flashlight. Just so unique!!

hiking
rocky
1 month ago

hiking
1 month ago

well i did read many reviews over taking my 3 girls (11,11,7) through the upper tunnel. I was a little hesitant after reading... we came all that way not to try. so we did... i would say at no point was i uncomfortable with my girls navigating through. we all had good headlamps and lights and did the cave with ease.

hiking
rocky
1 month ago

It’s a great spot. Easy enough to do with my 2 year old in a carrier and my 5 year old walking. You most definitely want a real flashlight and not your phone light. Somebody was incredibly nice and gave us a flashlight. Lots of fun. 10/10 recommended to everyone of all skill levels.

hiking
1 month ago

Amazing escape from the heat of the summer! Lol, our family, my husband 32, two daughters 9 and 2, and myself 33 had an Incredible adventure discovering one of our states natural beauty even in the deepest dark in large open spaces or a tight cramped small stretch! It was also a great educational trip to teach about both the native bats and other animals and how such a massive cave was formed to being with. I would strongly advise against taking small children through the upper cave and would urge you to stick to the lower cave with any probability 6 or under. The upper cave has some narly areas that I just am unsure of how safe it would be for the littler arms and legs to handle, but untimely it is your own choice. Make sure to wear pants and cold weather clothing as the cave was only 47° in the middle of August, lol. Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoy as much as we did! Ps the bathrooms are quite strong smelling and rough in the heat of the summer only down fall in my eyes

hiking
1 month ago

Fun for everyone!! Second time visiting the Ape Caves. Parking is limited on the weekends so be prepared to walk up to the caves. Restrooms and informational store at the Ape Caves.

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