Coldwater Lake Trail

MODERATE 54 reviews

Coldwater Lake Trail is a 8.2 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Toutle, Washington that features a lake and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from April until November.

8.2 miles
810 feet
Out & Back


mountain biking

trail running






wild flowers




washed out

no dogs

From Castle Rock, drive east 35 miles to the Coldwater Visitor Center in Mount St. Helens National Monument. The signed trailhead is immediately following the visitors center on the left.

1 day ago

Great day hike with Great Lake and Mountain View’s. Family friendly trail with little elevation gain. Not much shade as with most St Helens hikes so bring sun screen. Trailhead starts at the Coldwater boat launch and no dogs are allowed on the trail. Happy hiking. I only did the coldwater north trail. The loop is significantly more strenuous.

14 days ago

Solid hike. Start at the trailhead by the boat launch, easy to find. Also, the boat launch has restrooms. The trail itself is narrow, single file for sure. Great views of the lake on both sides of the trail. at first the going is easy, flat, and family friendly. Once you cross the river, the trail ascends and the mosquitoes can be extremely intense. You ascend a ridge and eventually come to an old logging site. Take a right at the junction and follow the trail along the ridge line. You'll know you're going the right way when you see rusted out machinery. 3/4 of the trail is shaded. Trail is a 4 due to soggy conditions and the 1.25 mile walk on the road from the end of the trail back to the boat launch.

15 days ago

If you want to make the full loop, dont start with trail 212. The other end features a significant climb at the beginning, which is best done on fresh legs. The views at the top are incredible, and the rest of the way is all down hill or gently rolling. The only downside is the mile long walk between trail heads.

15 days ago

Trail is in great condition. Some bugs in the brush.

1 month ago

Hike was awesome! We went on Sunday, 13 MAY. Clear day, which made for some awesome views once you started climbing. Don’t get confused with the Coldwater Lake sign you see on the left-hand side. It is not the parking lot before for the trailhead for the hike. That parking lot leads you to nice boardwalk around part of the lake, which I clocked just over 1/2 mile. You will have to drive past that parking lot, down to the parking lot for Hummocks Trail since the road is still closed for Coldwater Lake. From the parking lot, you will have to walk around the barrier and walk on the road to the trailhead for Coldwater Lake. It is under a mile walk to the trailhead.

1 month ago

Hi friends! Sunday, May 13th, 2018 was beautiful at Coldwater lake. Flowers were juuuust starting out, with a few tiny Lupine, nice groups of Paintbrush, and beargrass shoots were working their way up. The small meadows were yet to bloom, so I’d imagine a couple weeks out it will be fantastic. The water was cold as heck even in shallow areas, but that’s to be expected.

At the far end of the lake and looking up towards the passes (opposite the trailhead), there seemed to be a moderate amount of snow on the slopes (looking up towards Snow Lake). I’d imagine if warm weather holds it won’t be too long before the little lakes up-trail will be good to go.


6 months ago

Tried to do Harry’s Ridge but the access road was closed right after the trailhead to Coldwater Lake. It was a nice enough hike on a clear blue sky day. Views of the lake and some surrounding mountains somewhat monotonous but still very beautiful and peaceful. Not many out on the trail at all on a Sunday.

10 months ago

Just hiked the North side of the lake to the bridge. The trail is in excellent condition but for some wire sticking up. I went with 4 friends on August 1st and the heat was brutal. The hike says it is about 4.5 miles out to the bridge but we registered 6 on our fitness trackers. Make.sure to take a lot.of food and water if you go. Especially if it's hot. Lots of little springs to splash water on yourself. Very refreshing on such a hot day. I jumped into the lake at the boat launch when we got back. GREAT HIKE. Forgot to mention all of the scenery on the drive. Saint Helens is amazing.

10 months ago

Did this hike with a friend and the trail was in great shape. Lots of beautiful, quiet lake views, some pretty fantastic views of Mount St. Helens on the way in and for about the first mile of the hike. We didn't see any other hikers until the very end when we were almost back to the trailhead at the boat launch. I will come back to so this hike again with my 8-year-old daughter soon!

10 months ago

Some of the best views of mountains Ive seen this year.

11 months ago

Very easy hike. Crossed several small streams. Very enjoyable

11 months ago

Beautiful view and pretty flat. Great place to take kids.

11 months ago

what a great hike! The flowers were incredible and the lake and mountain views were beautiful. This is an easy, relatively flat hike that would be great for kids. a lot of effort has gone into creating establishing and maintaining this trail, and although, as trails go, it is not a very old trail, it is really easy to walk on. There are places where the chain link fencing used to stabilize the ground is sticking up, so watch your step especially if you are running.
Was able to go for a swim after our hike and watched a fisherman pull a beautiful trout from the lake. I'll definitely be putting this on my list of trails to take out of town visitors to.
ps: the views of Mount Saint Helens on the drive-in are an added bonus exclamation point
ps: please excuse typos! fat/swollen fingers from hiking!

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Great family outing. Perfect hike for all levels of abilities.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Such a beautiful day to be out hiking the lake to the waterfall.

Monday, May 22, 2017

it was the perfect morning for a hike and this trail was beautiful. we'll marked, almost totally dry, spectacular views, benches & am out house along the way. due to time restraints with my large group we only did a Mile out. I hope to return soon to do the whole thing.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Great hike, easy due to no elevation gain, 5 miles to creek and 5 miles back. Waterproof shoes in spring! Lots of wildlife.

Monday, May 08, 2017

Incredibly beautiful hike!!

Sunday, April 09, 2017

Beautiful hike. A few spots where the trail was eroded but passable. Lovely flowers. Watch for ticks!

Sunday, August 07, 2016

I didn't hike the entire length of it, wanted to get back home before dark. But beautiful clear lake, gorgeous wildflowers all along the trail. I often took breaks to just appreciate the quiet and the scenery. Great outing while checking out Mt Saint Helens.

Saturday, July 02, 2016

Not where we planned on hiking today, but arrived at about 1ish today. Parked in the first parking lot we came to, but started trail to the left of the boat launch. Hiked the first 3.25 miles. Very easy hike. In that 3 miles, only 2 areas of a steep hike up, but very very easy hike. Not much shade today, and it was sunny. Some bugs (dragon flies and some gnats on the way back). Lots and lots of wildflowers blooming. As stated, the trail is very easy and easy to follow, but lots of flowers hanging over the trail or making it seem narrow. Entire hike is along the water with beautiful views.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Great! Not many other travelers. Great weather. Highly recommend.

trail running
Monday, October 12, 2015

This was a great trail for running, however, there were some chain link fences that were placed down for erosion that had started popping up. I also impaled myself on one. Other than that, it's in good shape.

The lake is great for swimming too!

Saturday, August 22, 2015

The trail is in good shape, long pants shouldn't be required unless one has sensitive skin; ) The haze from the wildfires was really bad today. Other than that it is a fantastic hike. The hill from the observatory according to Endomondo is roughly 1000 feet, so one could go to the boat ramp for a little easier route.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Very nice, scenic, easy hike along the lake. Well groomed trail, mountain bikes are allowed, but didn't see any. Trailhead is easy to find at the boat launch. You can take a side trail up to the Coldwater visitor center. Will be back for sure and will probably bring mountain bikes fur an easy ride with the kids.

Monday, May 04, 2015

Clear skies over Mt St Helens and Coldwater lake today. The trail head was easy to find right at the boat launch of the recreation area. Contrary to some reviews, there are no permits required and be advised that there no dogs allowed on the trail. That said, nice easy hike. Beautiful lake and views. Signs say to not go off the designated path, but how will you sit on the drift wood and dip your feet in the water;)? We hiked almost to the end of the lake before turning around. Trail is well maintained with a few down trees, though nothing you cant step over. Surprisingly not many other people on this trail today. Be sure to make time to check out this trail if you are in the area. Closest gas station is about 30 miles away. And be sure to pack out what you pack in!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Beautiful and sad and the same time considering the history of the area. The trail is mostly wide open and really not too difficult. Great day hike.

Sunday, July 06, 2014

Beautiful and pretty easy if you hike a bit. Get here early and there will be noone but a few fishermen. As the day progresses, the tourists show up.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Beautiful lakeside trail. Fall is here as the leaves are now changing color. Did this hike on Sept 29. Was foggy in the am until about 12 noon and then it cleared to be a beautiful day! Parts of the trail are covered and open. Trail has just been cleared. There is a bridge and beautiful waterfall/coldwater creek just a few minutes on the Coldwater Trail 230. The colors of the rocks are stunning. Attempted the south side of the hike but really overgrown. Not a very well used trail on the south side.

Sunday, August 05, 2012

August 4th, 2012: absolutely gorgeous hike. One of the best wildflower hikes I've been on in a very long time. The hike is fairly level and easy, but the overgrown areas can make you look at your feet, which may be why the moderate rating. The start of the trail is right by the boat ramp with immediate views of the lake and Mt. St. Helen's. Wild flowers, dragonflies, and butterflies were everywhere.
For the first mile, there are frequent benches until just after the only sanctioned beach access area of the hike. After this first mile, there are a few small streams to cross, but nothing challenging. While the temperature was very warm, the whole hike had a very pleasant and cooling breeze.

Recommended gear/clothing: pants, due to the lush growth, and sun protection of some kind; many areas of the trail are exposed to the sun. On hot days, bring plenty of water.

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