Recreation

Experience Mount St Helens

Trail, Road, & Visitor Center Conditions Report

North/West Side via State Highway 504

The massive landslide and blast of the 1980 eruption traveled north and west from the mountain. The landscape on this side was scoured, but is returning to life. Visitor centers along highway 504 tell the story and provide stunning crater views. Trails let visitors explore the rebirth or access areas slower to recover.

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. Visitors here can witness the standing dead forest, enjoy interpretive talks, gaze into a log-strewn lake, and access the backcountry and Pumice Plain. The end point 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, and areas of old growth can still be found there. Recent and millennia-old eruptions shaped the south side, creating underground lava tubes and lahar flows. This is the place for winter recreation, climbing the mountain, as well as a multitude of other recreation opportunities.

Plains of Abraham overlooking Ape Canyon Mountain bike or hike through old growth forests along the Ape Canyon Trail and arrive here just before you enter the Plains of Abraham

Explore Mount Margaret Backcountry

This hidden gem of the Monument has 5,000' jagged peaks packed with mountain goats, elk and wildlife galore. Learn how to 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 Surrounding Area: South of Forest Road 90 and East of Forest Road 25

Did you know the legislated Mount St Helens National Volcanic Monument is within the Gifford Pinchot National Forest? Look for recreation and camping opportunities near Mount St Helens within the Gifford Pinchot National Forest...

Recreation Map

Map showing recreational areas. Map Information

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Recreation Conditions Report

 Area Name Status Area Conditions
  
Abraham Trail #216D Closed to Visitor 04/21/2014: snow covered
Ape Canyon Trail #234 Closed to Visitor 04/21/2014: Snow.
Ape Canyon Trailhead Closed to Visitor 04/21/2014: Snow
Ape Cave Interpretive Site Closed to Visitor 04/21/2014: Snow free.
Ape Cave Trail #239 Open to Visitor 04/21/2014: Open, Snow free.
Bear Meadow Interpretive Site Closed to Visitor 04/21/2014:Snow.
Birth of a Lake Trail #246 Open to Visitor 04/21/2014: Open
Blast Edge Viewpoint; Monument Entry Closed to Visitor 04/21/2014: Snow.
Blue Horse Trail #237 Open to Visitor 04/21/2014: Snow
Blue Lake Trailhead Closed to Visitor 04/21/2014: Snow
Boundary #1Truman #207 to JohnstonRidgeObservatory Closed to Visitor 04/21/2014: Snow covered.
Boundary Trail #1 Norway Pass TH to Norway Pass Closed to Visitor 04/21/2014: snow
Boundary Trail #1 Norway Pass TH to Truman #207 Closed to Visitor 04/21/2014: Snow covered.
Boundary#1Hummocks#229 to JohnstonRidgeObservatory Open to Visitor 04/21/2014: Open,washout near Loowit View point, rough in places.
Butte Camp Trail #238A Open to Visitor 04/21/2014: Snow
Castle Lake Viewpoint Observation Site Open to Visitor 04/21/2014: Open
Cedar Creek Viewpoint Interpretive Site Closed to Visitor 04/21/2014: Snow.
Cinnamon Trail #204 Open to Visitor 04/21/2014: Snow at higher elevations, possible trees down.
Clearwater Overlook Site Closed to Visitor 04/21/2014: Snow.
Climbers Bivouac Trailhead Closed to Visitor 04/21/2014: Closed, Snow Covered
Coldwater Lake Picnic and Boating Site Open to Visitor 04/21/2014: Open - No internal-combustion motors, one fish limit greater than 16 inches and the selective gear restriction applies.
Coldwater Trail #230 Closed to Visitor 04/21/2014:Expect snow at higher elevations, rough, MT bikes not allowed west of Boundary Trail/Coldwater Junction.
East Side - Forest Roads 25 & 99 Closed to Visitor 04/21/2014:Forest Roads 25 and 99 are closed to wheeled-vehicle travel.
Forest Road 8123 Closed to Visitor 04/21/2014: Snow Covered
Forest Road 8303 Open to Visitor 04/21/2014: Open
Forest Road 8322 Closed to Visitor 04/21/2014: Closed
Fossil Trail #242 Open to Visitor 04/21/2014: Snow at higher elevations.
Harmony Falls Viewpoint Closed to Visitor 04/21/2014: Snow.
Harmony Trail #224 Closed to Visitor 04/21/2014: Snow
Harry's Ridge Trail #1E Closed to Visitor 04/21/2014: Snow covered.
Hummock/Boundary Trailhead Open to Visitor 04/21/2014: Open
Hummocks Trail #229 Open to Visitor 04/21/2014: Open, Clear, wet in places.
Independence Pass Trail #227 Closed to Visitor 04/21/2014: Snow, washouts
Independence Pass Trailhead Closed to Visitor 04/21/2014: Snow
Independence Ridge Trail # 227A Closed to Visitor 04/21/2014:Snow
Johnston Ridge Observatory Closed to Visitor 04/21/2014: Johnston Ridge Observatory will re-open May 10, 2014.
June Lake Trail #216B Open to Visitor 04/21/2014: Snow free
June Lake Trailhead Closed to Visitor 04/21/2014:Closed
Kalama Horse Camp Campground Open to Visitor 04/21/2014:Open
Lakes Trail #211 Open to Visitor 04/21/2014: Snow free first 4.5 miles. open to MT. Bikes first 4.5 miles from Coldwater Boat Launch. Mount Margaret Backcountry Conditions Report.
Lakes Trail #211 Coldwater Trail #230 to Boundary Open to Visitor 04/21/2014: Lakes Trail snow free first 4.5 miles, Snow at upper elevations. Coldwater Trail and Boundary Trail snow covered
Lava Canyon Interpretive Site Closed to Visitor 04/21/2014: Snow.
Lava Canyon Trail #184 Closed to Visitor 04/21/2014: Snow
Loowit #216 June Lake #216B to Ape Canyon #234 Open to Visitor 04/21/2014: Snow, Caution at gully crossings.
Loowit #216-Butte Camp #238A to Ptarmigan #216A    04/21/2014: Snow
Loowit #216-Ptarmigan #216A to June Lake #216B    04/21/2014: Snow
Loowit #216-Sheep Canyon #240 to Butte Camp #238A    04/21/2014:Snow
Loowit Observation Site Closed to Visitor 04/21/2014:504 is closed to JRO
Loowit Trail #216    04/21/2014: Snow covered Conditions Report
Loowit Trail #216 Ape Canyon #234 to Windy Trail    04/21/2014: Snow.
Loowit Trail #216 Windy #216E to Castle Ridge#216G    04/21/2014: Snow. Gully crossings can be difficult.
Meta Lake Interpretive Site Closed to Visitor 04/21/2014: Snow
Meta Lake Trail #210 Closed to Visitor 04/21/2014: Snow
Miners Car Interpretive Site Closed to Visitor 04/21/2014: Snow
Monitor Ridge Climbing Route Open to Visitor 04/21/2014: Open. Climbing fees in effect. Access is from FR 81/830 junction. Climbers Bivouac is closed.
Mount Margaret Backcountry Closed to Visitor 04/21/2014: Snow. Current Conditions
Muddy River Picnic Site Open to Visitor 04/21/2014: Snow.
Norway Pass Trailhead Closed to Visitor 04/21/2014: Snow.
Pine Creek Boulder Interpretive Site Open to Visitor Great place for a picnic.
Pine Creek Information Center Closed to Visitor 04/21/2014: Closed for the season.
Ptarmigan Trail #216A Open to Visitor 04/21/2014: Snow
Ryan Lake Interpretive Site Closed to Visitor 04/21/2014: Snow.
Science and Learning Center at Coldwater Open to Visitor Open. Contact Lisa Romano at 360-891-7831 to learn about making a reservation.
Sheep Canyon Trail #240    04/21/2014: Snow
Smith Creek Trail #225 Closed to Visitor 04/21/2014: Snow
Smith Creek Trailhead (Road 8322) Closed to Visitor 04/21/2014: Snow
Smith Creek Trailhead (Road 99) Closed to Visitor 04/21/2014: Snow
Sno-Park: Marble Mountain Open to Visitor 04/21/2014: Snow Free
South Coldwater Trail #230A Open to Visitor 04/21/2014:Snow at higher elevations.
South Coldwater Trailhead Closed to Visitor 04/21/2014: 504 is closed at Hummocks Trail.
South Side - SR 503, Forest Roads 83, 81 & 90 Open to Visitor 04/21/2014: Forest Road 90 is open to snowline, FR 83 is open to Marble Mt. Snow-Park. FR 81 is open for 2 miles past Kalama Horse Camp on the west side and FR 830 on the east side.
The Worm Flows, Winter Climbing Route Open to Visitor 04/21/2014: Open. Climbing Update.  Check Weather and Avalance Danger before attemping to summit Mt. St. Helens. Expect heavy snow above timberline this week. Climbing fees go into effect April 1st.
Toutle Trail #238 Open to Visitor 04/21/2014:From Kalama Horse camp snow free for 3 miles. Trees down, under cut of trail near river may not be suitable for horses.
Trail of Two Forests Interpretive Site Open to Visitor 04/21/2014: Open.
Truman Trail #207 and Willow Springs Trail #207A    04/21/2014:Snow covered. Mountain Bikes and pets are not allowed past the Abraham Trail 216D.
West Side - State Highway 504 Open to Visitor 04/21/2014: Closed at Coldwater Lake.
Whittier Ridge Trail #214 Closed to Visitor 04/21/2014: Snow
Winds of Change Trail #232 Open to Visitor 04/21/2014: Open Weekends
Windy Ridge Interpretive Site Closed to Visitor 04/21/2014: Snow. Interpretive talks will begin again in early July 2014.
Windy Trail #216E Closed to Visitor 04/21/2014: Snow

Spotlights

South Coldwater Trail #230A

The South Coldwater Trail creates a convenient connection between State Route 504 and Coldwater Trail #230. 

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

In 2012, the Forest Service was pleased to announce the opening of the Science and Learning Center at Coldwater. 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.

For information on events and hours, please go to http://www.mshslc.org/

The facility is located at milepost 43 on State Highway 504, approximately 10 miles west of Johnston Ridge Observatory.  The building has multiple conference rooms available for rental for day and some overnight uses.  There are also indoor and outdoor picnic tables, restrooms, and of course a magnificent view of Mount St. Helens.  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 the wild and prestine Mt. Margaret Backcountry.  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.

When the center is open, visitors may stop in to get information, picnic on the deck, learn about education programs being offered, or purchase souvenirs offered by Discover Your Northwest.  Throughout the spring and summer, visitors may also see schools and education groups holding programs at the Science and Learning Center.  The Monument and Mount St. Helens Institute are currently seeking volunteers to help assist at the Science and Learning Center. 

For more information on volunteering or partnerships with the Science and Learning Center, visit the Mount St. Helens Institute's website or contact Grace Schmidt, Coldwater Coordinator, at 360-274-2114 or gschmidt@mshinstitute.org. 

Accessible Adventures Video

Harmony Trail #224

Harmony Trail #224 is the only access to Spirit Lake. Now underwater is the former location of the rustic Harmony Falls Lodge and Harmony Falls.