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 Open to Visitor 12/15/2014:Open from Ape canyon trail.
Ape Canyon Trail #234 Open to Visitor 12/15/2014: Caution at top of Ape Canyon. Busy with MT Bikers on weekends. 11/26/2014: Forest Road 83 is currently impeded by rock debris just past the intersection of Forest Road 81. One lane currently open, may not be sutiable for passenger cars. Use caution.
Ape Canyon Trailhead Open to Visitor 12/15/2014: Open
Ape Cave Interpretive Site Closed to Visitor 12/15/2014: Ape Head Quarters is closed for the season and will reopen in spring 2015. Ape Cave is open and visitors can expect heavy visitation during weekends and hoildays.
Ape Cave Trail #239 Open to Visitor 12/15/2014: Open
Bear Meadow Interpretive Site Closed to Visitor 12/15/2014:Closed for the winter.
Birth of a Lake Trail #246 Open to Visitor 12/15/2014: Open
Blast Edge Viewpoint; Monument Entry Closed to Visitor 12/15/2014: Closed for the winter.
Blue Horse Trail #237 Open to Visitor 12/15/2014: Open, clear.
Blue Lake Trailhead Closed to Visitor 12/15/2014: Open, Due to washout limited parking.
Boundary #1Truman #207 to JohnstonRidgeObservatory Closed to Visitor 12/15/2014:Closed for the winter.
Boundary Trail #1 Norway Pass TH to Norway Pass Closed to Visitor 12/15/2014: Closed for the winter.
Boundary Trail #1 Norway Pass TH to Truman #207 Closed to Visitor 12/15/2014: Closed for the winter.
Boundary#1Hummocks#229 to JohnstonRidgeObservatory Open to Visitor 12/15/2014: Open; JRO is closed for the season.
Butte Camp Trail #238A Open to Visitor 12/15/2014:Open and clear.
Cascade Peaks Interpretive Site Closed to Visitor Closed for the season.
Castle Lake Viewpoint Observation Site Open to Visitor 12/15/2014: Open
Cedar Creek Viewpoint Interpretive Site Open to Visitor 11/26/2014: Open
Cinnamon Trail #204 Open to Visitor 12/15/2014: Latest report down trees have been cleared.
Clearwater Overlook Site Open to Visitor 11/26/2014: Open
Climbers Bivouac Trailhead Closed to Visitor 12/15/2014:Closed. Forest Road 830 and Climbers Bivouac are closed for the season.
Coldwater Lake Picnic and Boating Site Open to Visitor 12/15/2014: Open - No internal-combustion motors, one fish limit greater than 16 inches and the selective gear restriction applies.
Coldwater Trail #230 Open to Visitor 12/15/2014: Open-Rough at Boundary/Coldwater trail Junction, MT bikes not allowed west of Boundary Trail/Coldwater Junction.
East Side - Forest Roads 25 & 99 Open to Visitor 12/15/2014: Forest Road 99 is closed for the winter season.
Forest Road 8123 Open to Visitor 12/15/2014: Open
Forest Road 8303 Open to Visitor 12/15/2014: Open
Forest Road 8322 Open to Visitor 12/15/2014: Open
Fossil Trail #242 Open to Visitor 12/15/2014: Work still going on in Bridge area.
Harmony Falls Viewpoint Closed to Visitor 12/15/2014:Closed for the winter
Harmony Trail #224 Closed to Visitor 12/15/2014:Closed for the winter
Harry's Ridge Trail #1E Closed to Visitor 12/15/2014:closed for winter.
Hummocks Trail #229 Open to Visitor 12/15/2014: Open, Clear,
Hummocks/Boundary Trailhead Open to Visitor 12/15/2014: Open
Independence Pass Trail #227 Closed to Visitor 11/26/2014: Closed washouts.
Independence Pass Trailhead Closed to Visitor 12/15/2014:Closed for the winter
Independence Ridge Trail # 227A Closed to Visitor 12/15/2014:Closed for the winter.
Johnston Ridge Observatory Closed to Visitor 12/15/2014: Johnston Ridge Observatory is closed for the season and will reopen in May2015.
June Lake Trail #216B Open to Visitor 12/15/2014: Open
June Lake Trailhead Open to Visitor 12/15/2014:Open, busy on weekends, limited parking.11/26/2014: Forest Road 83 is currently impeded by rock debris just past the intersection of Forest Road 81. One lane currently open, may not be sutiable for passenger cars. Use caution.
Kalama Horse Camp Campground Open to Visitor 12/15/2014:Open
Lakes Trail #211 Open to Visitor 12/15/2014: 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 12/15/2014: Open. Clear.
Lava Canyon Interpretive Site Open to Visitor 12/15/2014: Open
Lava Canyon Trail #184 Open to Visitor 12/15/2014:Open: Forest Road 83 is currently impeded by rock debris just past the intersection of Forest Road 81. One lane currently open, may not be sutiable for passenger cars. Use caution.
Loowit Observation Site Closed to Visitor 12/15/2014: closed for the winter.
Loowit Trail #216 Open to Visitor 12/15/2014: Open covered Conditions Report
Meta Lake Interpretive Site Closed to Visitor 12/15/2014:Closed for the winter
Meta Lake Trail #210 Closed to Visitor 12/15/2014:Closed for the winter
Miners Car Interpretive Site Closed to Visitor 12/15/2014:Closed for the winter
Monitor Ridge Climbing Route Closed to Visitor 12/15/2014: Forest Road 830 and Climbers Bivouac are clsoed for the winter season. Current Climbing Conditions
Mount Margaret Backcountry Open to Visitor 12/15/2014: Open Current Conditions
Muddy River Picnic Site Open to Visitor 12/15/2014: Open
Norway Pass Trailhead Closed to Visitor 12/15/2014:Closed for the winter.
Pine Creek Boulder Interpretive Site Open to Visitor Great place for a picnic.
Pine Creek Information Center Closed to Visitor Closed for the season, will reopen spring 2015
Ptarmigan Trail #216A Closed to Visitor 12/15/2014: Open Clear
Ryan Lake Interpretive Site Closed to Visitor 12/15/2014:Closed for the winter
Science and Learning Center at Coldwater Open to Visitor 12/18/2014: Open saturday and Sundays 10a.m. to 6p.m. Will be close form January 5th through Feb. 20 and open for Presidents Day Weekend Feb. 21 and 22, 2015. Contact Grace Schmidt at 360-274-2114 for program and group reservations.
Sheep Canyon Trail #240 Open to Visitor 12/15/2014: Open.
Smith Creek Picnic/Viewpoint Closed to Visitor 12/15/2014:Closed for the winter
Smith Creek Trail #225 Open to Visitor 12/15/2014:Open, rough in places.
Smith Creek Trailhead (Road 8322) Open to Visitor 12/15/2014: Open
Smith Creek Trailhead (Road 99) Closed to Visitor 12/15/2014: Closed for the winter.
Sno-Park: Marble Mountain Open to Visitor 12/15/2014:Open.
South Coldwater Trail #230A Closed to Visitor 12/15/2014:closed for the winter.
South Coldwater Trailhead Closed to Visitor 12/15/2014: Closed for the winter.
South Side - SR 503, Forest Roads 83, 81 & 90 Open to Visitor 12/15/2014: Forest Road 83 is currently impeded by rock debris just past the intersection of Forest Road 81. One lane currently open, may not be sutiable for passenger cars. Use caution.
The Worm Flows, Winter Climbing Route Open to Visitor 12/15/2014: Open. Climbing Update. Check Weather and Avalanche Danger before attemping to summit Mount. St. Helens.
Toutle Trail #238 Open to Visitor 12/15/2014:under cut of trail near river may not be suitable for horses. Washout between Blue Horse Trail and Butte Camp Trail has been improved.
Trail of Two Forests Interpretive Site Open to Visitor 12/15/2014: Open.
Truman Trail #207 and Willow Springs Trail #207A Closed to Visitor 12/15/2014:Closed for the winter. Mountain Bikes and pets are not allowed past the Abraham Trail 216D.
West Side - State Highway 504 Closed to Visitor 12/15/2014:Closed. The Spirt Lake Memorial Highway, State Route 504, is closed for the winter season east of the Coldwater Lake Boat Launch. No access to Johnstone Ridge.
Whittier Ridge Trail #214 Closed to Visitor 12/15/2014: For very experienced hikers only.
Winds of Change Trail #232 Open to Visitor 11/26/2014: Open Weekends
Windy Ridge Interpretive Site Closed to Visitor 12/15/2014:Closed for the winter
Windy Trail #216E Closed to Visitor 12/15/2014:Closed for the winter

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 Mount St Helens Science and Learning Center.  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 Sceince and Learning 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.  For more information please call the front desk at 360-274-2131.

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 in the purchase souvenirs offered by Discover Your Northwest 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 the wild and prestine 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. To find out more please visit http://www.mshslc.org/

Educational Programs: The Science and Learning Center is hosts to schools and provides in-depth and extended education programs to groups visiting the volcano. holding programs. 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 educational programs please visit http://www.mshinstitute.org/

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 Falls Viewpoint offers views of Spirit Lake and the log raft. A one mile hike (700 foot descent) leads to the shore of Spirit Lake where 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.