Explore the most popular wildlife trails near Cougar with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

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!

Fantastic trail

Beautiful place

Went off hours, late afternoon on a weekday, and had the place almost to myself. Can get packed on weekends.

Amazinnnggg! first big summit for me, about 8hours of hiking!

hiking
8 days ago

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
10 days ago

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
12 days ago

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

The drive there was very bumpy. Take a suv or truck. The way down to the waterfall is a bit tricky. We went on a Saturday afternoon and it almost looked like we were at a water park FULL of people, everyone was nice and minded their own business, so we didn’t really mind that. Great swimming spot for kids. We took our 2 year old and she LOVED it.

If you are coming from southern washington the road to get there will say closed about 3-4 miles from the trailhead. We drove past the road closed signs and came to a giant pothole in the road that no cars could get around (jeeps or trucks could make it) so we had to park and walk about 2 miles to the trail, being chased by bees the whole way. Not fun. But the lower waterfall was gorgeous and good for swimming, and I will be going back! Next time we will go around to enter from the north side to avoid the potholes and bees.

The waterfalls are worth the drive and hike!

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.

So glad I got to see it BUT the road to get there washed out and we were detoured thru hood river Oregon to get home! Literally took us an additional four hours to get back to I-5.

hiking
18 days ago

Hiked up just past where ape canyon trail intersects loomit loop, ate lunch, hiked back down. Clocked it at 10.3mi in 5 hrs including stops (doggy sniffing included).

* dusty and dry. BRING WATER especially for furry friends - there are 0 spots for them to drink from any bodies of water. Period.
* pretty flat footing all the way up since it’s a mixed use trail used by many mountain bikers.
* steady incline with a few ups and downs. No steep bits. I would put this on the easy side of moderate, with the only moderate part being the length. It really was quite an easy hike.
* all the mountain bikers we ran into were super respectful and conscious of hikers being on trail.
* great views of St. Helens, Adams, and even Rainier!
* bugs weren’t bad in the morning, but got bad as the day got hot. There were only a few mosquitoes towards the beginning, and the rest of the way up it was just a lot of flies. They were more annoying than anything. We got very few bites from the mosquitoes and the rare biting fly. Once we popped out onto the plains, there was an amazing breeze and the bugs were gone.
* LOTS of other trails to connect to and directions to go in once you reach the plains if you’re looking for a longer trek.

Beautiful upper and lower falls and the middle the falls isn't too bad either. It was in the 90s but felt cool in all the trees.

so worth it very good for photos

hiking
25 days ago

It's definitely not 'hard' as the description would indicate, as the inclines are manageable, and it's not too long. That said, it is definitely buggy, and you should plan to be harassed by the bugs for your entire time in the trees. It's a gorgeous trail though, and one I'd recommend for sure. Btw...I just read some of the other reviews from the last day or two. the bugs aren't as bad as the others let on. I mean...you're out in the woods...sheesh. Wear some sleeves and a hat and you'll be fine. I don't ever wear bugspray and didn't have many bites.

Also - note that this trail gets a LOT of MTB traffic. Plan accordingly for that if you're going to head up it. I personally start early in the morning so I get all of the bikes on their way up. If you catch them all headed downhill I could see this being pretty sketchy.

hiking
29 days ago

Went on a Wednesday and only passed a few hikers and bikers. The bugs we're out but as long as I was moving and had my windbreaker zipped up they we're tolerable. (but literally no stopping allowed) once you get out of the trees (~4miles) the bugs are gone and there are wide open plains to walk through with spectacular mountain views. around mile 5 the trail intersects the loowit River trail. I believe you are "supposed" to take the right fork as far as you want. There is a good stopping place around 5.25 miles but I wanted to make it an even 6 so I continued on through the planes. the incline was very mild and even though you climb quite a bit, it is spread out evenly through the whole hike so it is never too much of an ass burner! I could do without the bugs but all in all and great hike. (finished 12 miles in 4.5 hours- a PR for me!)

hiking
1 month ago

Hiked 7/17: NFRD 90 is full of dips that u won’t see but will hear the bottom of your car scraping the pavement- 30 mph max! Hike: need a NW Forest Pass....well marked trail with Lewis River right next to you almost the entire way up to Upper Falls. No bugs and only saw 2 people on the way in. Great hike for a hot day!

Forgot to clock out of my recording so it recorded a bit of the drive out!
It was a beautiful clear day and we ended up dipping into the water. We arrived at lower Lewis and didn’t realize we could hike up to see middle Falls and upper Lewis. I highly suggest doing so, middle Falls was one of my favorite stops just because it wasn’t nearly as crowded as the lower Falls!
Great hike and would do it again!

I was here on 7/15/2018.
Gorgeous trail, well worth the drive.
Because I hiked this with a dog, I showed up at about 9:30am to beat the heat. It was pretty cool on arrival. I hiked from Lower Falls to Upper Falls and was back to my car by 1pm. I stopped at all three Falls to take in the view, so the hike could have been much shorter if I didn’t stop for breaks.
Not buggy at all, I even forgot to put on bug spray and didn’t get any mosquito bites.
The trail is well maintained and easy enough for beginners, but fun enough for experienced hikers.

These falls really are a must see. Just go. It’s an easy hike with decent mileage and views you won’t forget.

The road to get here is packed full of pothole-like dips, so take it slow. Also, a part of the road is all gravel. I drove a Prius and it did just fine, but I did need to take it slow.

walking
1 month ago

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.

My favorite falls of the trio is the lower falls because they are spectacular and offer great swimming options. The middle falls were very beautiful. I especially liked how the water ran over the top of a rock outcropping that was only an inch or so deep. Very beautiful!

hiking
1 month ago

I wanted so bad to enjoy this hike, but the bugs were completely unbearable. We made it a little over halfway, but anytime we stopped along the trail to let mountain bikes pass, or take a water break, our bodies were covered head to toe in what appeared to be flies. They would not let up. I was fully covered, and still, my ears and face were covered in bugs.There was no serenity to this hike at all whatsoever.
If you’re thinking you’re prepared for bugs, think again. We got to the point we were spraying bug spray as we walked. We doused ourselves in spray prior to the hike, and had little OFF fans. Still, nothing. I envy anyone that could get past these critters.

hiking
1 month ago

BUGS... BUGS... BUGS... BUGS. Terrible bugs - despite all of us using spray and wrist bands - didn't matter. Would be a nice hike to try when the bugs are off season (when is that?).

hiking
1 month ago

Just did this trail for the first time on 7/7/18 and we thought we were prepared for the clouds of angry bugs... We weren't. But once you get up out of the woods they thin out to mostly just chill honey bees just doing their thing with the wildflowers. Bring a jacket in case it's pretty windy up top.

Awesome hike. Probably my favorite to date.

Did this hike a few weeks ago with a family member. Was our longest day hike to date at 15 miles. I wouldn't say the hike is strenuous, the elevation gain is gradual. The length of the hike can be difficult though and we were definitely tired at the end of the day. We were lucky that the day started out foggy and rainy so the heat was not a factor until the end of the day. Temps at the falls were chilly, we had to put on layers to sit and enjoy our lunch. There were mountain goats to right of the falls. Trail was mostly empty, except a few backpackers tackling the Loowit Trail, since Windy Ridge was not open yet. Make sure to bring plenty of water. There are several creek crossings about halfway to the falls to collect water from if you choose. There was some new signage in the first few miles from Johnston Ridge. Might be best to double check your route with forest service or volunteer if you aren't familiar with the area. I highly recommend this hike! What a treat to be able to say that you ate your lunch at the base of a glacier which is the entrance to the crater of an active volcano! The entire hike back to Johnston Ridge you will continuously look behind you, staring at the mountain and how far you have come. It is surreal. It really does blow your mind!

hiking
1 month ago

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
1 month ago

This is truly one of my new favorites. Trail was awesome and in great condition! Went straight to the upper Falls, had lunch and a refreshing dip in water-less people at the upper Falls-so glad I read the reviews to go there. Returned back where son swam in the middle Falls. Breathtaking scenery.

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