Lava Canyon Trail [CLOSED] is a 5.4 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Cougar, Washington that features a waterfall and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking, running, nature trips, and bird watching and is best used from March until November. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

Distance: 5.4 miles Elevation Gain: 1,167 feet Route Type: Out & Back

dogs on leash

hiking

nature trips

bird watching

running

forest

partially paved

river

views

waterfall

wild flowers

wildlife

bridge out

closed

This trail is experiencing full or partial closure due to COVID-19. Please see the open trails nearby for alternate hiking options. Note: The suspension bridge is closed for the 2019 season due to cable damage. The lower trail beyond the bridge is CLOSED for maintenance. Refer to the 'Lava Canyon Suspension Bridge' to hike to the bridge only. The first section of the trail is a PAVED interactive walk that has plenty of marked signage and history about the formation of Lava Canyon. It is WHEELCHAIR accessible and fairly straightforward.

hiking
bridge out
rocky
8 months ago

Not for acrophobics or the faint of heart, this narrow & at times slippery trail follows along a breathtaking river in the lava canyon, a waterfall, & past the for-now closed suspension bridge. I only followed it until the first major lookout, chickened out & turned around, lol. I have no issues with heights, but I wasn't wearing my best hiking shoes that day, & one slip on the loose gravel could be fatal on that ultra-narrow path, & I was alone. Wonderful hike for introspection & taking your time, not for kids, dogs or inexperienced hikers (or those who came unprepared wearing tennis shoes). Totally inspiring hike, I'll be prepared to trek further next time!

hiking
9 months ago

This trail has it all. Gorgeous lookouts, waterfall, huge canyons, and every terrain. It is also incredibly challenging, and a little intimidating with the small pathways alongside cliffs. But one of my favorites. Did it it on a Friday and only ran into one other person on the long trail since the suspension bridge loop was closed.

hiking
9 months ago

really cool canyon filled with lava. The bridge is out so the small loop trail is closed. We did the right side of the loop to the bridge, came back and took the left side to the bottom. I would not take kids on this hike. There are several areas of narrow ledge that a slip, trip and fall would be fatal.

hiking
over grown
scramble
10 months ago

There were no signs saying the trail was closed. They have the bridge blocked off well, and states it's closed...but no indication of the lower trail being closed. We passed a handful of other hikers as well. Beautiful trail, and it's been one of my favorites for the past 4 years. About 10 mins from the bridge at the end of the trail there's a split off to the right... take it if you aren't too tired. There's a ladder not to far up ahead and you hike about .2 miles and the view is fantastic. I've hiked it 4 times before finally giving into my curiosity and once I made it to the end I could of kicked myself for not doing it sooner. It can be dangerous if you aren't paying attention to your footing. Some spots might be 16" wide and the edge gives way very easily... so stick close to the rock walls. Water, and sunscreen is a must.

hiking
10 months ago

Listed here as closed, but I did not see this listing until after we already hiked (on 7/23) well downstream from the bridge... there was signage that the bridge was closed, but not that the lower trail was closed... there was no barrier or signage to warn hikers not to attempt the lower trail. Maybe we missed something? Regardless, this trail hugs the cliff side and is ultra narrow (12-18 inches for several extended stretches in several places) with precarious and severe drops on the canyon side: DEFINITELY UNSAFE for kids and dogs. The slightest wobble would be all it would take to go over the edge. No exaggeration here.

hiking
Sun Jun 02 2019

Went to hike this trail 6/1/2019, only to find out too late the suspension bridge was out. We could observe that one of the cables had snapped. Spoke with the ranger; an inspector will check the bridge out in the next month, BUT the ranger does not expect the bridge to pass, so it will need to be replaced. That wouldn't be too terrible of a loss, since the suspension bridge creates the loop for the "more difficult" part of the trail, and you could theoretically hike down one side of the loop to access the out-and-back "most difficult" lower part of the trail, ie the 30-foot ladder climb down into the canyon to access the lower falls. HOWEVER, that part of the trail is also closed because the ranger said parts of the trail were "sloughing off," so it is closed indefinitely. Still loved what we saw - the lava creates interesting chutes through which the water churns.

bird watching
bridge out
Sun Jun 02 2019

As of writing this, the suspension bridge is closed, which closes the back trail loop.

hiking
bridge out
Sun May 26 2019

hiking
snow
Sun Mar 17 2019

Attempted hike on 3/17/19 but never made it to trailhead. Road went from no snow to patches of snow to clear driving tracks to snow and ice covered tracks and snow in between of 6 inches. Turned around 4.5 miles from trailhead. Driving Outback with no snow tires or chains and felt it too risky. Even if I had made it to trail snow looked too deep for just micro spikes, not to mention being able to follow trail and maneuver ledges with big drop offs. Will try again in a month.

hiking
Mon Jan 14 2019

Road closed 5 miles from the trailhead due to snow. But I am excited to go back in the Spring.

hiking
Sun Nov 25 2018

This was a very beautiful hike! Easy to do but requires shoes with good traction. There is a section after the bridge that allows you to go down by the water but we were unable to venture down due to slippery conditions. Highly recommend this hike in summer/fall!!

Wed Nov 21 2018

This one is fun. Suspension bridges and ladders make it especially unique. Great views of waterfalls and cascades. I did the entire trail and as other reviews have said just be careful and know that you probably shouldn’t bring pets/children. At the split near the beginning of the trail I veered right and went over the bridge. I think this is the better route because you get great views of the falls on the way back up. Here's a video of my experience: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bF5ragxSIw8&t=4s ***After the 30 foot ladder but before the next bridge there is another smaller ladder that is somewhat hard to find. It leads to a short out/back trail on a ridge that pays off with extraordinary views. Travelers note: Forest pass: YES Parking fee: $5 without forest pass Travel time from Portland: about 2 hours Driving conditions: road to the trailhead has a fair amount of potholes and such. Drive is possible in a car but probably better to have a vehicle with clearance.

hiking
Mon Nov 12 2018

Just a heads up. It's hunting season. Worth the $5 to buy an orange hunting vest so you don't get shot. Ran into a couple hunters who informed me of hunting season and let me borrow a vest. Better safe than sorry. Suspension bridge was awesome.

Tue Oct 30 2018

Great hike! We didn’t intend to do this one, but we were finished hiking Ape Caves and realized this was so close. The first two sections are pretty great...rather short...so totally doable. Parts were a little scary since it was so wet out. The bridge was quite frightening for someone who is afraid of heights. More than adequate amount of signage. I would recommend this hike when it is dry out. Gorgeous views. Did not attempt to hike the most difficult part, I read in forums that it’s quite dangerous when wet.

hiking
Mon Oct 15 2018

I e only ever done the very short part of this hike where we loop back after the suspension bridge but this time we decided to go right and continue on. I looked at the map and I saw where we could stay in the Lava Canyon trail by keeping left at the bridge. Once we hit SCOTT trail we took a little break over looking the river. We decided to go down SCOTT trail u til it met up with the upper part of Lava Canyon trail. It is t marked but you can see the trail to the left. Also I knew it was only .3 of a mile. They really should put signage there. The upper trail is all up! Looks like an old Forrest access road overgrown. But we had to take a couple short breaks to rest. It’s over 3 miles up. I believe we climbed about 1204 feet. I could definitely say no dogs past the suspension bridge and this is definitely rated HARD in my book. Scary at times. I am glad I did it.

hiking
Tue Oct 02 2018

Absolutely beautiful!

Mon Sep 17 2018

Not for kids or dogs. Watch your footing as it gets very narrow in some spots. It was pouring rain when we went so we had to be extra cautious on the slopes and the ladder.

Fri Aug 17 2018

This hike really impressed us. We were looking for something a little bit different than the usual mountain hikes were used to, so we decided to give this trail a try. We really enjoyed that the trail was unique, in that you’re quite literally traversing down a canyon adjacent to magnificent gushing water and waterfalls. We enjoyed the views most on the lower portion of the trail, and especially loved the ladders...just got a kick out of those! All in all, we loved it and would definitely do it again!

Wed Aug 15 2018

Fantastic trail

hiking
Thu Aug 09 2018

Hiked this trail 7/7. Did the lower section first, which should be rated hard. It is not for small children, dogs, or anyone fearful of heights. I am none of those things but there were a couple of places on the trail that sped up my heartbeat! As noted by another reviewer, several people have died on this trail, I imagine they went beyond the many signs telling them to stay on the trail. We saw quite a few people doing just that the day we were there. The ladder is tall but very sturdy. However, there is one place one the trail that is quite skinny and you also have to step up a couple of feet. Yikes! Turned around at the bridge and back up the way we came down, then did the easy loop across the suspension bridge. The water is beautiful.

hiking
Mon Aug 06 2018

Multiple wonderful views of beautiful waterfalls, coupled with somewhat scary cliffs to traverse. There is plenty of solid ground at these points, the narrowest point being about a foot of trail, but it is quite a long way down. I highly recommend this hike as the environment is quite fantastic, but watch your little one's closely. If you are bringing a dog, these is a 30' steel ladder, nearly vertical, that you need to scale. Plan accordingly.

hiking
Sun Aug 05 2018

We did the whole trail. The top part of the difficult section was a little nerve racking for me since the ledge is thin and some loose dusty ground there. But it was well described. Took us 2 hours round trip

Mon Jul 30 2018

Technically this trail is 3 modes of difficulty. You have options. The first is a paved interactive walk that has plenty of marked signage and history about the formation of Lava Canyon. It is wheelchair accessible and fairly straightforward. The second trail is a loop. It is easy to moderate depending on what time of year you go. The trail gets slick in places. This is the portion of the trail that has the (amazing) 128 ft suspension bridge and the ladder. Its quick and I saw several families as we hiked. Kids love the suspension bridge. After the suspension bridge you can choose to go down and to the left which leads into the canyon or you can go up and to the right which continues the moderate loop you are already on. Did I try the advanced trail? No. There is signage EVERYWHERE about people who have died because they didn't understand the risks. The third option is for experienced hikers and climbers. From what I understand it is a canyon that follows the flow of the falls. It is slick, steep, and dangerous. I know what my hiking level is. Someday I will get there. But not today. overall the moderate Lava Canyon trail is what most think of when they learn about the trail. The views are incredible. The contrast of blackened lava and ice feed waterfalls against a cool green backdrop of forest and moss is stunning. You can see how the eruption of Mt. St. Helen's impacted the area because you are literally standing in the wake of dried lava flow 38 years later.

walking
Mon Jul 16 2018

Beautiful trail! The waterfall is absolutely beautiful! I’d rate this trail as moderate. Make sure that you have a good pair of hiking boots with a good grip. There’re a several sports that are a bit steep and some of the spots might have smooth, slippery rocks. Make sure to bring a bug spray. The hike is not that long but pretty exiting! If you’re still full of energy there’s Ape Canyon trail right next to it with gorgeous views of Mt St Helens.

hiking
Tue Jul 10 2018

Hiked 07/07/18 Fun hike. The south side trail on the river is still closed but the north side of the river is open however somewhat primitive. There are some risky spots with sheer ledges. There is a spot with a 32’ steel ladder to traverse into the bottom of one of the canyons. Might not be good for kiddos but with that said I would have taken mine. The first part of the trail is all paved and it has a suspension bridge that was fun. This is a loop that is surely easy to navigate. Once you hike off the pavement and onto the dirt trail it gets challenging. Have fun and be careful.

hiking
Sun Jul 08 2018

We hiked Lava Canyon last week 7/3/18. Love this hike! The upper loop is moderate, and safe for most healthy people. If you don't like heights this isn't for you. Hiking down into the canyon should be rated difficult. There are 90 ft cliffs. People have died in this canyon. There is alot of loose rock which makes narrow stretches slick, and sketchy! A family with small child behind us turned around and left at the first one of those sections. Good idea! There is a rock formation in the middle of the canyon that people call "The Ship". Climbing it reminds my wife of Hobbits climbing Mt Mordor, so we call it Mordor rock. The view from the top is beautiful. You can look back at the Lava Canyon waterfalls from it. Well worth the climb.

Sat Jul 07 2018

Trail is open, went on the hike on Saturday. Nice small hike and good for family

hiking
Thu Jul 05 2018

We only did the upper loop as the lower was still closed fathers day weekend. What a cool area!! The rocks were a little slick for any downhill and that felt sketch. Saw another couple really struggling. Dogs may not be the biggest fan of the suspension bridge. Really quick and easy jaunt though with BIG rewards

Showing results 1 - 28 of 232