Recreation

Experience Mount St Helens

Recreation Opportunities Map

 

North/West Side via State Highway 504

The massive landslide and blast of the 1980 eruption traveled north and west from the mountain. Visitor centers and trails let visitors explore the rebirth.

 

View From Johnston Ridge Observatory View From Johnston Ridge Observatory

 

 

East Side via National Forest Roads 25 and 99

This more remote side of the mountain illustrates the stark line between old growth forest and the Blast Zone. Provides the closest view of the crater accessible by car.

Norway Pass Over Spirit Lake
View from Norway Pass, overlooking Spirit Lake

 

South Side via State Route 503 and Forest Roads 90 and 83

Much of the south side forest was untouched in the 1980 eruption. This is the place for winter recreation, climbing and more.

Plains of Abraham overlooking Ape Canyon
Plains of Abraham overlooking Ape Canyon

 

Explore Mount Margaret Backcountry

This special area has 5,000' jagged peaks home to mountain goats, elk and a multitude of wildlife. You must obtain a permit to backpack in the Mount Margaret Backcountry.

Lakes Trail 211 overlooking Panhandle Lake in the Mt. Margaret Backcountry
Lakes Trail 211 overlooking Panhandle Lake in the Mount Margaret Backcountry

Mount St Helens National Volcanic Monument is part of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest.

Recreation Conditions Report

 Area Name Status Area Conditions
  
Abraham Trail #216D Closed to Visitor
Ape Canyon Trail #234 Closed to Visitor 12/22/15: Road gated at Marble Mountain Sno-Park, 5 miles from the trailhead.
Ape Canyon Trailhead Closed to Visitor 12/10/2015 Forest Road 83 is gated at Marble Mountain Sno-Park, requiring  a 5 mile walk to the trailhead.
Ape Cave Interpretive Site Open to Visitor 2/09/2016: Cave open daily. 6 inches of patchy snow. Forest Road 8303 gated at Trail of Two Forests Sno-Park, requiring a 1 mile walk to cave. Patchy snow at Trail of Two Forest Sno-Park. Road melted to pavement, but may be icy. A Washington State Sno-Park pass required to park at Trail of Two Forests, and not available on site. Ape Headquarters Center closed for season. Bring your own light sources.
Ape Cave Trail #239 Open to Visitor 2/09/2016: Cave open daily. 6 inches of patchy snow. Forest Road 8303 gated at Trail of Two Forests Sno-Park, requiring a 1 mile walk to cave. A Washington State Sno-Park pass required to park at Trail of Two Forests and not available at site. Ape Headquarters Center closed for season. Bring your own light sources.
Bear Meadow Interpretive Site Closed to Visitor 12/10/2015 Forest Road 99 closed for winter season.
Birth of a Lake Trail #246 Open to Visitor 12/22/2015: Snow covered. Road plowed, but may require chains and four wheel drive vehicle.
Blast Edge Viewpoint; Monument Entry Closed to Visitor 12/10/2015  Forest Road 99 closed for winter season.
Blue Horse Trail #237 Open to Visitor 12/22/2015: Inaccessible to cars due to closure of Forest Road 81 for winter season.
Blue Lake Trailhead Open to Visitor 12/22/2015: Inaccessible to cars due to winter closure of Forest Road 81.
Boundary #1: Hummocks to Johnston Ridge Open to Visitor 12/23/2015: Snow covered.
Boundary #1: Johnston Ridge to Truman #207 Closed to Visitor 12/22/2015: Forest Road 504 is gated at milepost 45, 7 miles before Johnston Ridge Observatory.
Boundary Trail #1: Norway Pass TH to Norway Pass Closed to Visitor
Boundary Trail: Truman #207 to Norway Pass Closed to Visitor 12/22/2015: Forest Road 504 is gated at milepost 45, 7 miles before Johnston Ridge Observatory. Forest Roads 25 and 99 are closed for the winter.
Butte Camp Trail #238A    12/22/2015: 61 inches of snow at 3,100 feet.
Cascade Peaks Interpretive Station Closed to Visitor 11/19/2015: Closed for season.
Castle Lake Viewpoint Observation Site Open to Visitor 12/23/2015. Possible snow on road at higher elevations.
Cinnamon Trail #204 Open to Visitor 12/22/2015: Forest Road 81 is gated on the west past Kalama Horse Camp and on the east at Cougar Sno-Park.
Clearwater Overlook Site Closed to Visitor 12/10/2015 Forest Road 25 gated on south side 4 miles north of Forest Road 90.
Climbers Bivouac Trailhead Closed to Visitor 11/24/2015: Forest Road 830 and Climbers Bivouac are closed for the season due to snow. Will reopen late Spring 2016.
Coldwater Lake Picnic and Boating Site Open to Visitor 12/22/2015: Snow covered. Road plowed, but may require chains and four wheel drive vehicle. No internal-combustion motors allowed. One fish limit greater than 16 inches and the selective gear restriction applies.
Coldwater Trail #230 Closed to Visitor 12/22/2015: Snow covered. Forest Road 504 gated before South Coldwater Trail trailhead.
East Side - Forest Roads 25 & 99    12-11-15  Forest Road 25 is gated for the winter on the south side, about 4 miles north of Forest Road 90. On the north side from Randle, WA, 25 is blocked by a slide at mile post 12. Forest Road 99 is not accessible.
Eruption Trail #201 Closed to Visitor 11/24/2015: Closed, for the season. Will open Spring 2016.
Forest Road 81    12/22/2015: Gated for the winter on west past Kalama Horse Camp and east side at Cougar Sno-Park.
Forest Road 8123 Closed to Visitor 12/11/2015: Closed for winter season.
Forest Road 83 Open to Visitor 2/09/2016: Gated at Marble Mountain Sno-Park. Road clear. 2 feet of melting snow at Marble Mountain Sno-Park.
Forest Road 8303 Closed to Visitor 12/11/2015: Closed for season until 4/16/2016.
Forest Road 8322 Closed to Visitor 12/10/2015  Closed for winter season.
Forest Road 90    12/11/2015: Forest Road 90 is closed for the season just east of Curly Creek Road at milepost 19.5.
Fossil Trail #242    12/22/2015: Snow covered. May be inaccessible by car due to snow on the 81 road above Cougar, WA.
Goat Creek Trail #205 Closed to Visitor 12/22/2015: Forest Roads 25 and 26 closed for winter season.
Goat Mountain Trail #217 Closed to Visitor 12/22/2015: Forest Road 26 closed by slide.
Goat Mountain Trailhead Closed to Visitor 12/22/2015: Forest Road 26 closed by slide.
Green River Horse Camp Closed to Visitor 12/22/2015: Forest Road 26 closed by slide.
Green River Trail #213 Closed to Visitor 12/22/2015: Forest Road 26 closed by slide.
Harmony Falls Viewpoint Closed to Visitor 12/10/2015 Forest Road 99 closed for winter season.
Harmony Trail #224 Closed to Visitor 12/10/2015: Forest Road 99 closed for winter season.
Harry's Ridge Trail #1E Closed to Visitor 12/22/2015: Snow above 2000 feet. No access from Johnston Ridge Observatory or Forest Road 99.
Hummocks Trail #229 Open to Visitor 12/23/2015: Snow covered.
Hummocks/Boundary Trailhead Open to Visitor 12/22/2015: Snow covered.
Independence Pass Trail #227 Closed to Visitor 11/24/2015: Closed due to washouts.
Independence Pass Trailhead Closed to Visitor 12/10/2015 Forest Road 99 closed for winter season.
Independence Ridge Trail # 227A Closed to Visitor 12/10/2015 Forest Road 99 closed for winter season.
Johnston Ridge Observatory Closed to Visitor 11/24/2015: Closed for season. Reopens in mid-May 2016.
June Lake Trail #216B Open to Visitor 2/09/2016: 2 feet of melting snow at trailhead. 74 inches of snow at June Lake. Road gated at Marble Mountain Sno-Park, so there is a 1 mile walk to the trailhead.
June Lake Trailhead Open to Visitor 2/09/2016: 2 feet of melting snow at trailhead. 74 inches at June Lake itself. Forest Road 83 closed at Marble Mountain Sno-Park, so there is a 1 mile walk to the trailhead.
Kalama Horse Camp Campground Closed to Visitor 12/10/2015  Closed for winter season.
Lakes Trail #211 Open to Visitor 12/22/2015: Snow covered.
Lava Canyon Interpretive Site Closed to Visitor 12/22/2015: Forest Road 83 is gated at Marble Mountain Sno-Park, 5 miles before the site.
Lava Canyon Trail #184 Closed to Visitor 11/24/2015:  Forest Road 83 is gated at Marble Mountain Sno-Park, so there is a 5 mile walk in to the trailhead.
Loowit Trail #216    12/22/2015: 61 inches of snow at 3,100 feet. a Loowit Trail Conditions Report.
Loowit Viewpoint Closed to Visitor 11/24/2015: Closed for the seaon will reopen Spring 2016.
Meta Lake Interpretive Site Closed to Visitor 12/10/2015  Forest Road 99 closed for winter season.
Meta Lake Trail #210 Closed to Visitor 12/10/2015  Forest Road 99 closed for winter season.
Miners Car Interpretive Site Closed to Visitor 12/10/2015  Forest Road 99 closed for winter season.
Monitor Ridge Climbing Route Closed to Visitor 12/23/2015: Climbers Bivouac is closed for the winter.  View the climbing update.
Mount Margaret Backcountry Closed to Visitor 12/10/2015  Approaches from Johnston Ridge Observatory and Forest Road 99 are closed for the winter season.  Mount Margaret Backcountry Conditions Report.
Muddy River Picnic Site    12/22/2015: Forest Road 25 gated just beyond.
Norway Pass Trailhead Closed to Visitor 12/22/2015: Forest Roads 25, 99 and 26 closed for winter.
Pine Creek Information Center Closed to Visitor 11/09/2015: Closed for season. Reopens May 2016.
Ptarmigan Trail #216A Open to Visitor 12/22/2015: Snow above 2500 feet. Check avalanche conditions. Climbers Bivouac is closed.
Science and Learning Center at Coldwater Open to Visitor 12/22/2015:  Open Saturdays and Sundays, 10 am to 4 pm, throughout the winter. On weekends, call (360) 274-2131 for road conditions to the center.
Sheep Canyon Trail #240    12/22/2015: 61 inches of snow at 3,100 feet.
Smith Creek Picnic/Viewpoint Closed to Visitor 12/22/2015: Forest Roads 25, 99 and 26 closed for winter.
Smith Creek Trail #225 Closed to Visitor 12/22/2015: Forest Road 83 gated at Marble Mountain Sno-Park.
Smith Creek Trailhead (Road 8322) Closed to Visitor 12/22/2015: Forest Road 83 gated at Marble Mountain Sno-Park.
Smith Creek Trailhead (Road 99) Closed to Visitor 12/10/2015  Forest Road 99 closed for winter season.
Sno-Park: Cougar Open to Visitor 2/09/2016: 12 inches of melting snow. Road and parking lot clear. A Washington State Sno-Park permit required and not available on-site.
Sno-Park: Marble Mountain Open to Visitor 2/09/2016: 24 inches of melting snow. Road and parking lot clear. A Washington State Sno-Park permit is required and not available on site.
South Coldwater Trail #230A Open to Visitor 12/22/2015: Snow covered. Trail is open but 504 is closed about 1 mile before the trailhead.
South Coldwater Trailhead Open to Visitor 12/22/2015: Snow covered. Forest Road 504 gated 1 mile before the trailhead.
South Side - SR 503, Forest Roads 83, 81 & 90 Open to Visitor 12/15/2015: Winter closures in effect: Forest Road 83 is gated just past Marble Mountain Sno-Park. Forest Road 81 is gated on the west past Kalama Horse Camp and on the east at Cougar Sno-Park. Forest Road 90 is closed 1 mile past Curley Creek Road. Expect snow on roads and freezing/thawing conditions.
The Worm Flows, Winter Climbing Route Open to Visitor 12/22/2015: Check avalanche conditions. View the climbing Update. Check Weather and Avalanche Danger before attemping to summit Mount. St. Helens.  Self service climbing permits available at Marble Mountain Sno-Park Climber's Register until March 31st.
Toutle Trail #238 Open to Visitor 12/22/2015: Forest Road 81 is gated at Kalama Horse Camp on the west and Cougar Sno-Park on the east. Use caution by river.
Trail of Two Forests Interpretive Site Open to Visitor 2/02/2016: 8-12 inches of snow. Road may be icy. A Washington State Sno-Park pass required and not available on-site.
Truman Trail #207 (Willow Springs #207A) Closed to Visitor 12/22/2015: Forest Roads 99 and 504 are closed for the winter.
Vanson Peak Trail #217A Closed to Visitor 12/22/2015: Forest Roads 25, 99 and 26 closed for winter.
Vanson Ridge #213A Closed to Visitor 12/22/2015: Forest Roads 25, 99 and 26 closed for winter.
West Side - State Highway 504 Open to Visitor 12/9/2015: State Route 504 is open to mile marker 45, just east of Coldwater Lake and the Hummocks Trail. Johnston Ridge Observatory, at mile marker 52, is closed for the winter and not accessible. Snow on road at higher elevations.
Winds of Change Trail #232 Open to Visitor 12/22/2015: Snow covered. Open weekends only when Coldwater Science and Learning Center is open.
Windy Ridge Interpretive Site Closed to Visitor 12/10/2015: Forest Roads 25 and 99 closed for winter season.
Windy Trail #216E Closed to Visitor 12/10/2015:  Forest Road 99 closed for winter season.

Spotlights

South Coldwater Trail #230A

This 3.1 mile trail travels from State Route 504 on the south side of Coldwater lake to meet Coldwater Trail #230. Coldwater Trail #230 joins Boundary Trail #1 2.3 miles from South Coldwater Trail 230A junction.

Logging operations were active on South Coldwater Ridge during the spring of 1980. Several pieces of heavy logging equipment were at logging sites on May 18th and were destroyed by the blast. About 1 mile from the trailhead, you will see a bull­dozer and mangled yarding tower. Blasted logs and toppled trees attest to the lateral blast’s speed and force. The trail steadily climbs to its junction with Coldwater Trail #230 offering views of Mount St. Helens, Coldwater Peak, and Coldwater Lake.

Trail of Two Forests Interpretive Site

This trail loops through two forests that stand side by side, but are separated in age by 2000 years. One forest is old-growth Douglas-fir and western red-cedar and the other is a young forest that was originally engulfed by lava flows from an eruption of Mount St. Helens over two millennia ago. This forest encompasses three-dimensional imprints of trees in the old lava beds called lava casts. The boardwalk trail loops through the two forests, and is kid friendly.

Accessible Adventures Video

Science and Learning Center at Coldwater

This is the view of Mount St. Helens from the Science and Learning Center at Coldwater

The Science and Learning Center is a great resource for schools, science and education  groups interested in field trips and research at Mount St. Helens. The center is also available as a rental facility for special events like family reunions and conferences.

This beautiful facility is located at milepost 43 on State Highway 504, approximately 10 miles west of Johnston Ridge Observatory.

Visitor Information Station: On the weekends, the Science and Learning Center is open to the public. In the winter it is the closest access to Mount St. Helens from the west.  Stop in to get information about exploring the monument, learn about education programs offered, or shop at the bookstore.  A pet rest area is located within the Coldwater Lake area.

There are two trails near the building perfect for exploration. Adjacent to the Science and Learning Center is the accessible Winds of Change Trail, a 1/4 mile paved path leading through a part of the Blast Zone.

The Elk Bench Trail starts near the building and connects with the Lakes Trail, providing stunning views of Coldwater Lake and frequent elk sightings along the way.  Once connected with the Lakes Trail head north along the shore of Coldwater Lake and begin your exploration into Mt. Margaret Backcountry.

Rentals:  The Science and Learning Center has conference rooms available for rental, as well as some rustic or primitive overnight accommodations. We also host special events, including conferences, family reunions and weddings. Contact the Science and Learning Center for more information about rentals.

Educational Programs: The Science and Learning Center hosts schools and provides in-depth and extended education programs to groups visiting the volcano. We offer overnight stays in the Science and Learning Center for education programs as well as hands-on education in the Volcanic Monument. Programs vary from 2 hours to multiple days.

For more information on programs or volunteering, visit the Mount St. Helens Institute's website or contact 360-449-7883.