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.
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.
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The Forest Service announced the opening of Mount St Helens Science and Learning Center in 2012. Previously managed as a visitor center, this facility is now a great resource for schools, education and science groups interested in taking field trips and doing research at Mount St. Helens. The center is 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 general public. Stop in to get information about exploring the monument, learn about education programs offered, or shop at the bookstore.
We also have 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. A pet rest area is located within the Coldwater Lake area.
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 you are able to 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 is hosts to 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. Our programs vary from 2 hours to multiple days of educational activities and experiences.
For more information on volunteering, educational programs or partnerships with the Science and Learning Center, visit the Mount St. Helens Institute's website or contact 360-449-7883.
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This one mile trail leaves from Harmony Falls Viewpoint and descends 700 feet to the shore of Spirit Lake. Here you can see the effects of the 1980 eruption and marvel at the recovery. Now underwater is the former location of the rustic Harmony Falls Lodge and Harmony Falls.
Hiking this trail offers the opportunity to find a changed shoreline, altered by the effects of the 1980 debris avalanche and lateral blast. When the debris avalanche slammed into the lake, a “tidal” wave surged 800 feet up the opposite shore. As the wave crashed back down it swept the already blown down trees into the lake. The resulting log mat drifts with the wind on the lake surface.
The debris avalanche created a dam at the lake outlet ultimately raising the water level. The level of Spirit Lake is now controlled by the 1.7-mile man-made tunnel that drains into South Coldwater Creek.