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 03/23/2015: Open from Ape canyon trail.
Ape Canyon Trail #234 Closed to Visitor 03/23/2015: Closed, snow
Ape Canyon Trailhead Closed to Visitor 03/23/2015: Closed, snow
Ape Cave Interpretive Site Open to Visitor 03/23/2015: Open.
Ape Cave Trail #239 Open to Visitor 03/23/2015: Open, Snow Caution at gully crossings
Bear Meadow Interpretive Site Closed to Visitor 03/23/2015:Closed for the winter.
Birth of a Lake Trail #246 Open to Visitor 03/23/2015: Open
Blast Edge Viewpoint; Monument Entry Closed to Visitor 03/23/2015: Closed for the winter.
Blue Horse Trail #237    03/23/2015: Due to washout limited parking at trailhead. 
Blue Lake Trailhead Closed to Visitor 03/23/2015: Due to washout limited parking at trailhead. 
Boundary #1: Hummocks to Johnston Ridge Open to Visitor 03/23/2015: Open; JRO is closed for the season.
Boundary #1: Johnston Ridge to Truman #207 Closed to Visitor 03/23/2015: Closed for the winter.
Boundary Trail #1: Norway Pass TH to Norway Pass Closed to Visitor 03/23/2015: Closed for the winter.
Boundary Trail: Truman #207 to Norway Pass Closed to Visitor 03/23/2015: Closed for the winter.
Butte Camp Trail #238A Closed to Visitor 03/23/2015:Open and clear
Cascade Peaks Interpretive Site Closed to Visitor 3/30/2015: Currently closed for the season.
Castle Lake Viewpoint Observation Site Open to Visitor 03/23/2015: Open
Cinnamon Trail #204 Open to Visitor 03/23/2015: Latest report down trees have been cleared.
Clearwater Overlook Site Closed to Visitor 03/23/2015:   25 road closed at 93/25 Jct.
Climbers Bivouac Trailhead Closed to Visitor 03/23/2015: Forest Road 830 and Climbers Bivouac are closed for the season.
Coldwater Lake Picnic and Boating Site Open to Visitor 03/23/2015: Open - No internal-combustion motors, one fish limit greater than 16 inches and the selective gear restriction applies.
Coldwater Trail #230 Open to Visitor 03/23/2015: Open. Rough at Boundary/Coldwater trail Junction, Mountain bikes not allowed west of Boundary Trail/Coldwater Junction.
East Side - Forest Roads 25 & 99 Closed to Visitor 03/23/2015: Forest Road 99 and 25 are closed for the winter season. Forest Road 25 closed at the Roads 93/25 Jct. 12 inches of snow at Forest Roads 25/2573 jct.
Eruption Trail #201 Closed to Visitor 03/23/2015: Closed
Forest Road 8123 Closed to Visitor 03/23/2015: Closed
Forest Road 8303 Closed to Visitor 03/23/2015: FR 8303 closed at the Trail of Two Forests. 1 inch of snow at Ape Cave. Ape’s headquarters closed until June.
Forest Road 8322 Closed to Visitor 03/23/2015: Closed
Fossil Trail #242 Open to Visitor 03/23/2015: Work still going on in Bridge area.
Harmony Falls Viewpoint Closed to Visitor 03/23/2015: Closed for season.
Harmony Trail #224    03/23/2015: Closed for season.
Harry's Ridge Trail #1E    03/23/2015: Inaccessible. State Route 504 is gated just past Hummocks Trail. Road will open when Johnston Ridge Observatory re-opens May 2015.
Hummocks Trail #229 Open to Visitor 03/23/2015: Open, clear.
Hummocks/Boundary Trailhead Open to Visitor 03/23/2015: Open
Independence Pass Trail #227 Closed to Visitor 03/23/2015: Closed due to washouts.
Independence Pass Trailhead Closed to Visitor 03/23/2015: Closed for the season.
Independence Ridge Trail # 227A    03/23/2015: No current report.
Johnston Ridge Observatory Closed to Visitor 03/23/2015: Johnston Ridge Observatory is closed for the season and will reopen in May2015.
June Lake Trail #216B Open to Visitor 03/23/2015: Open, snow
June Lake Trailhead    03/23/2015: Closed
Kalama Horse Camp Campground Open to Visitor 03/23/2015: Closed for season.
Lakes Trail #211 Open to Visitor 03/23/2015: Open to Mountain Bikes for the first 4.5 miles from Coldwater Boat Launch to the Coldwater Trail #230.
Lava Canyon Interpretive Site Closed to Visitor 03/23/2015: Closed.
Lava Canyon Trail #184 Closed to Visitor 03/23/2015: Forest Road 83 is closed for the season.
Loowit Trail #216 Open to Visitor 03/23/2015: Open, snow covered Conditions Report
Loowit Viewpoint Closed to Visitor 03/23/2015: Closed for the winter.
Meta Lake Interpretive Site Closed to Visitor 03/23/2015: Closed for the season.
Meta Lake Trail #210 Closed to Visitor 03/23/2015: Closed for the winter season
Miners Car Interpretive Site Closed to Visitor 03/23/2015: Closed for the winter season
Monitor Ridge Climbing Route    03/23/2015: Forest Road 830 and Climbers Bivouac are closed for the winter season. View the climbing update.
Mount Margaret Backcountry Open to Visitor 03/23/2015: Open
Mount St. Helens Summit    Climbing Conditions Update for Mount St Helens
Muddy River Picnic Site Open to Visitor 03/23/2015: Open
Norway Pass Trailhead Closed to Visitor 03/23/2015:Closed for the winter
Pine Creek Information Center Closed to Visitor 3/30/2015: Closed. Will open in May.
Ptarmigan Trail #216A    03/23/2015: Open Clear
Ryan Lake Interpretive Site Closed to Visitor 03/23/2015: Closed for the winter
Science and Learning Center at Coldwater Open to Visitor 03/23/2015: Open Saturdays and Sundays 10am to 4pm.
Sheep Canyon Trail #240 Closed to Visitor 03/23/2015: Snow
Smith Creek Picnic/Viewpoint Closed to Visitor 03/23/2015: Closed for winter season
Smith Creek Trail #225 Closed to Visitor 03/23/2015: Snow
Smith Creek Trailhead (Road 8322) Closed to Visitor 03/23/2015: Closed, snow
Smith Creek Trailhead (Road 99) Closed to Visitor 03/23/2015: Closed for the winter.
Sno-Park: Marble Mountain Open to Visitor 03/23/2015: Open. No snow at Marble Mountain Sno-Park at this time. Forest Road 83 is open to Marble Mountain Sno-Park.
Sno-Park: Trail of Two Forests Open to Visitor 03/23/2015:Open, Snow Free. 
South Coldwater Trail #230A Closed to Visitor 03/23/2015:Closed for the winter.
South Coldwater Trailhead Closed to Visitor 03/23/2015: Closed for the winter.
South Side - SR 503, Forest Roads 83, 81 & 90 Open to Visitor 03/23/2015: Forest Road 81 is currently closed between Cougar Sno-Park and Kalama Horse Camp. Forest Road 83 is open to Marble Mountain Sno-Park. No snow at Marble Mountain Snow Park. Forest Road 83 closed beyond the Snow Park. Forest Road 90 is closed past the intersection with Curley Creek Road.
The Worm Flows, Winter Climbing Route Open to Visitor 03/23/2015: Open. 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    03/23/2015: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 03/23/2015: Open. Recreation Pass required
Truman Trail #207 and Willow Springs Trail #207A Closed to Visitor 03/23/2015:Closed for the winter. Mountain Bikes and pets are not allowed past the Abraham Trail 216D.
West Side - State Highway 504 Closed to Visitor 03/23/2015: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.
Winds of Change Trail #232 Closed to Visitor 03/23/2015Closed to late Feb. 2015
Windy Ridge Interpretive Site    3/23/2015: Closed for the season.
Windy Trail #216E Closed to Visitor 03/23/2015: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

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.

Accessible Adventures Video

Harmony Trail #224

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.