The Cowlitz Valley area is administered by the Cowlitz Valley Ranger District. This area is located in the Northern most portion of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest in southwest Washington, and comprises about 575,000 acres of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. The Cowlitz Valley area is roughly located among three volcanic peaks: Mt. Rainier to the north, Mt. Adams to the east, and Mt. St. Helens to the west. A line connecting Mt. Adams and Mt. St. Helens following the Boundary Trail #1 makes up the southern boundary. On clear days this trail affords spectacular views.
This trail climbs up steep switchbacks towards Angry Mountain. After entering the Goat Rocks Wilderness, it reaches an open ridge and the grade continues until the trail ends on Lily Basin Trail #86. The highest point on Angry Mountain is 6,049 feet. The name might have come from people hiking the extremely steep ridgeline on the south slope of the mountain. Or the name might refer to the frequent storm clouds surrounding the summit. Wilderness permits are required when entering a Wilderness area. Permits are free and self issued at trailheads.
The west end of this trail is open to hikers only (from Bear Meadows west).The east end of the trail is open to motorcycles, hikers, horses and bicycles (from Bear Meadows east).
The Boundary Trail is 53.7 miles long and has numerous access points and trail junctions. The trail once formed the boundary between the Columbia and Rainier National Forests. Now it marks the southern boundary of the Cowlitz Valley District. This was an important trail in the early history of the Forest Service as it was the principal route used by rangers on horseback patrols. The trail was well established by 1911.
From the west the trail begins at Norway Pass area within the Mt. St. Helens National Volcanic Monument. (View a Mount St. Helens vicinity map). From Norway Pass to Bear Meadows the trail is open to hikers only. Enjoy excellent views of Mount St. Helens as you hike through the blown-down forest. From Bear Meadows eastward the trail is open to hikers, horses, motorcycles and bicycles. From Bear Meadow to Elk Pass (4.5 miles), the trail is on a timbered, broad ridge, with occasional views of St. Helens Along its length, this trail offers views of St. Helens, Rainier, Adams and a few glimpses of Hood. This area was glaciated repeatedly during the Ice Age. The marks of the glaciers' passage can be seen in the knifelike ridges and cirque basins all along the trail. The trail ends in the east at Council Lake.
The Walupt Lake Trail is within Goat Rocks Wilderness. It begins in the Walupt Lake Campground and follows the lakeshore until reaching Walupt Creek. The trail along the lake is flat and offers great views of the lake. At the end of the lake the trailclimbs into an open alpine area before turning southeast, ending on the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail #2000.
The Walupt Lake Trail was used into this century by Yakama people who came to the 384-acre lake and fished for native trout, using fish traps.
The Coleman Weedpatch Horse Trail #121A is a short access trail connecting Walupt Horse Camp to the Coleman Weedpatch Trail #121. The trailhead is about a mile west of Walupt Lake on Forest Road 2160 where Coleman Weedpatch Trail #121 heads into the Goat Rocks Wilderness.
The Tatoosh Trail was originally built to access a grazing allotment for cattle. There was also a Native American trail up Tatoosh Ridge, east of the existing trail. Parts of this trail can still be found today.
Special Conditions: Steep with exposures. Limited trailhead space at both ends. Camping opportunities along the trail are limited.
This trail is open to hiker, horse (not recommended) and bicycle use only.
Located 4 miles east of Packwood, WA, the River View Trail begins on Forest Road 1270 just past "Jody's Bridge." The trail follows the Cowlitz River, offering views into the river canyon. The trail initially climbs, then takes a rolling grade as it winds through an open oldgrowth forest. The trail ends across the Cowlitz from La Wis Wis Campground, with no access across the river. This is an early and late season hiking opportunity for when the higher elevation trails are under snow.
Special Conditions: Steep with exposures. Not recommended for horse use.
This trail begins at mile post 1.7 on Forest Road 44. The trail follows road 44 for 4.8 miles to the end of the road. Carlton Creek must be forded at two locations within this stretch. Carlton Pass was named for William H. Carlton who led a Northern Pacific Railroad survey crew through the pass in 1867. Look for blazed trees along the trail, which marked a cross-mountain route surveyed in 1905.
Take the family on a short hike through a beautiful mixed hardwood and conifer forest along Covel Creek. The trail is used by the Cispus Learning Center for nature study. This low elevation trail makes for a great winter hike.
This trail is open to hikers, horses and bicycles but is not recommended for horses or bicycles due to steep cliffs and exposures.
This trail takes hikers up to High Rock Lookout, one of three fire lookouts remaining on the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. The lookout offers incredible views of the Sawtooth Ridge, Mt. Rainier, and much of the surrounding landscape.
This trail follows a deep canyon along Blue Lake Creek, which was formed in part to melting glaciers thousands of years ago. The 250 foot wall of columnar basalt was formed by volcanic eruptions beneath a glacier.
The trail climbs steeply in some areas, with rock steps built in to make the climb easier. There are two foot bridges crossing the creek before the trail ends at Blue Lake. The trail is challenging and includes steep side slopes, cliff exposures, and rock stairways.
The access road to this trailhead is steep and narrow.
From trailhead the trail climbs into William O. Douglas Wilderness through dense forest to a semi-open ridgeline. It continues southeasterly through several large sub-alpine meadows, ending on the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail #2000.
The Sand Lake Trail climbs steeply through dense forest before entering the William O. Douglas Wilderness. The trail follows an even grade towards Cortright Point. Turning east, the trail descends to the Pacific Crest Trail #2000 at Sand Lake. This trail was part of the Yakamainsert-Cowlitz Trail. The Sand Lake Trail once accessed a Nachespam village, now covered by Rim Rock Lake.
The trail follows an abandoned road for half a mile, the trail again leaves the road to the right and climbs through dense forest for 3 miles until it intersects with a timber harvest area. After another half mile, the trail enters the Goat Rocks Wilderness.
The trail takes you to an excellent viewpoint of Packwood Lake before its junction with Packwood Lake Trail #78 near Mosquito Lake.
This trail climbs through dense forest and on into an alpine landscape southwest within Goat Rocks Wilderness. Trail crosses Clear Fork Trail #61 and ends at the junction of Bluff Lake Trail #65 and Packwood Lake Trail #78 about 1 mile north of Lost Lake.
Special Conditions: There are no bridge crossings. Hikers must ford the river. There is room for only one vehicle at the unmarked trailhead on US Highway 12.
Most of this trail is in the Goat Rocks Wilderness. The trail starts at the end of Forest Road 1260 and climbs gently through old-growth. Two small harvest areas are passed within the first 3/4 mile, offering views of Mt. Rainier. The trail then enters Wilderness and continues toward Packwood Lake.
Within a short distance of the lake, the trail leaves the wilderness and descends to the lake. The trail climbs, enters the wilderness, and proceeds to Mosquito Lake and the junction with the Three Peaks Trail #69. T he trail continues to climb, passing a junction with Coyote Trail #79 before reaching Lost Lake.
The trail continues north on an open ridgeline to the junction with the Bluff Lake Trail #65 and the Clear Lost Trail #76. The Packwood Lake Trail was constructed in 1910 by the Valley Development Company which had plans for a hydroelectric project. Long before the lake was explored for its hydroelectric potential, it was used by the Taidnapam people as a fishing and camping site. The 452-acre lake is located at the headwaters of Lake Creek. It was formed when a large mass of soil and rock slid off Snyder Mountain and dammed Lake Creek 1,200 years ago.
Mt. Adams is a prominent landmark in the area. Elevations here range between 1200 feet at the Wind River Work Center, 12 miles north of Carson, WA., and 12,276 feet at the summit of Mt. Adams. Precipitation varies from 70.7 inches of rain and 65.1 inches of snow at the Wind River Work Center and 44.1 inches of rain and 95.7 inches of snow at the Mt. Adams Ranger District office in Trout Lake, WA. The area features a great diversity of habitats and features, from old growth to second growth forest, wetland areas, low and high elevation meadows, glaciers, and low and high elevation lakes.
Peterson Prairie Campground is an attractive campground with level, well shaded graveled sites. This site is located near large huckleberry fields making the campground very popular during huckleberry season. It has easy access on a paved road. The popular tourist spots, Natural Bridges and Ice Caves are nearby. There is drinking water and in season a host in the campground.
The Dark Divide Roadless Area provides great opportunities for extended trips along rock studded ridges and cirques carved by long extinct glaciers. The historic Boundary Trail #1 was important in the early history of the Forest Service. Well established by 1911, the trail served as the principal route for rangers on horseback patrols on the boundary between the Rainier and Columbia Forest Reserves. It is now a National Recreation Trail, offering a backpacking opportunity or shorter hikes to rocky peaks and sub alpine meadows, all with outstanding views. Several trails provide scenic access to Boundary Trail #1 through mixed conifer and old-growth forests.
The Lewis River Valley will delight visitors with spectacular waterfalls surrounded by old-growth forest. Trails, ranging from easiest to most difficult, provide paths of discovery through this appealing landscape. Accessible trails allow close approach to Curly Creek, Miller Creek and Lower Lewis River Falls. Other waterfalls are viewed from the Lewis River Trail, which follows the Lewis River for over 15 miles.
Silver Star Mountain is the highlight of the Silver Star Scenic Area. Trails in this area offer views of the Portland/Vancouver metropolitan area, the Columbia River, Mount Adams, Mount Hood, Mount St. Helens and Mount Rainier.
The Siouxon is a large drainage with few roads located south of the North Fork Lewis River. Low elevation trails provide year-round hiking opportunities. Steep, forested slopes characterize the area, with rock outcrops near the ridge tops. Siouxon Creek is the centerpiece, with many waterfalls and deep clear pools.
Provides access to the southwest corner of Trapper Creek Wilderness. The bowl shaped Soda Peaks Lake, a glacial -carved cirque, is surrounded by conifers in a mountainous setting. The trail passes through forest and across loose rock to reach a saddle from which it switchbacks down to the lake. The trail then decesends steeply to join the Trapper Creek Trail near the Wilderness Boundary. Huckleberries are found along the trail outside the Wilderness boundary.
This Trail Open to Hikers, Bikers and Equestrian Use.
The gradual grade of this trail slowly climbs away from Falls Creek and crosses 2 creeks before reaching the waterfall in approximately 2.5 miles. Trail continues on for 6.5 miles, crossing several forest roads, and terminates at Falls Creek Horse Camp on Forest Road 65.
One of our nation's greatest treasures is the National Wilderness Preservation System established by the Wilderness Act of 1964. Wildernesses are lands designated by Congress to be protected and preserved in their natural condition, without permanent improvements or habitation.
Mt. Adams Wilderness is an ecologically complex Wilderness of 47,078 acres along the west slope of Mt. Adams. The 12,326-foot high Mt. Adams is the second highest peak in the Northwest after Mt. Rainier. Mt. Adams Wilderness is bounded on the east by the Yakima Indian Reservation.
A blend of dry eastside and moist west side weather conditions allow diverse types of vegetation to flourish. The mountain maintains active glaciers and traces of lahars and avalanches that altered the landscape. Volcanic activity in the area is fairly recent and some eruptions occurred just 3,500 years ago. Multiple trails provide access to spectacular views of Mt. Adams and its glaciers, mountain streams, open alpine forests and wildflowers scattered among lava flows and rimrocks.
Mt. Adams is also a popular attraction for mountain climbers. Many routes exist up Mount Adams with the South Climb route the most popular. While these routes provide a wide range of difficulty, all mountain climbing is a potentially dangerous activity. Review Mt. Adams Summit page for information about climbing Mt. Adams.