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 09/18/2014:Open
Ape Canyon Trail #234 Open to Visitor 09/18/2014: Caution at top of Ape Canyon. Busy with MT Bikers on weekends.
Ape Canyon Trailhead Open to Visitor 09/18/2014: Open
Ape Cave Interpretive Site Open to Visitor 09/11/2014: Ape Headquarters Open. Fri. to Mon. Hours 10am to 5 pm. Lantern rentals end at 4pm. Ape Caves are open Dawn to Dusk  Please be advised heaviest visitation is between 11am and 3pm on weekends and holidays.
Ape Cave Trail #239 Open to Visitor 09/18/2014: Open
Bear Meadow Interpretive Site Open to Visitor 09/18/2014:Open
Birth of a Lake Trail #246 Open to Visitor 09/18/2014: Open
Blast Edge Viewpoint; Monument Entry Open to Visitor 09/18/2014: Open
Blue Horse Trail #237 Open to Visitor 09/18/2014: Open, clear.
Blue Lake Trailhead Closed to Visitor 09/18/2014: Open, Due to washout limited parking.
Boundary #1Truman #207 to JohnstonRidgeObservatory Open to Visitor 09/18/2014:Open,clear.
Boundary Trail #1 Norway Pass TH to Norway Pass Open to Visitor 09/18/2014: Open.
Boundary Trail #1 Norway Pass TH to Truman #207 Open to Visitor 09/18/2014: Open. rough spot near arch, use caution. passable.
Boundary#1Hummocks#229 to JohnstonRidgeObservatory Open to Visitor 09/18/2014: Open, rough in places.
Butte Camp Trail #238A Open to Visitor 09/18/2014:Open and clear.
Cascade Peaks Interpretive Site Closed to Visitor Closed for the season.
Castle Lake Viewpoint Observation Site Open to Visitor 09/18/2014: Open
Cedar Creek Viewpoint Interpretive Site Open to Visitor 09/18/2014: Open
Cinnamon Trail #204 Open to Visitor 09/18/2014: Latest report down trees have been cleared.
Clearwater Overlook Site Open to Visitor 09/18/2014: Open
Climbers Bivouac Trailhead Open to Visitor 09/18/2014:Open
Coldwater Lake Picnic and Boating Site Open to Visitor 09/18/2014: Open - No internal-combustion motors, one fish limit greater than 16 inches and the selective gear restriction applies.
Coldwater Trail #230 Open to Visitor 09/18/2014: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 09/18/2014: Forest Road 25, 26 and 99 are open. 
Forest Road 8123 Open to Visitor 09/18/2014: Open
Forest Road 8303 Open to Visitor 09/18/2014: Open
Forest Road 8322 Open to Visitor 09/18/2014: Open
Fossil Trail #242 Open to Visitor 09/18/2014: Work still going on in Bridge area.
Harmony Falls Viewpoint Open to Visitor 09/18/2014: Open
Harmony Trail #224 Open to Visitor 09/18/2014: Open
Harry's Ridge Trail #1E Open to Visitor 09/18/2014:Open.
Hummock/Boundary Trailhead Open to Visitor 09/18/2014: Open
Hummocks Trail #229 Open to Visitor 09/18/2014: Open, Clear,
Independence Pass Trail #227 Closed to Visitor 09/18/2014: Closed washouts.
Independence Pass Trailhead Open to Visitor 09/18/2014: Open
Independence Ridge Trail # 227A Open to Visitor 09/18/2014: Open, rough in places.
Johnston Ridge Observatory Open to Visitor 09/18/2014: Johnston Ridge Observatory is open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. through October 26th.
June Lake Trail #216B Open to Visitor 09/18/2014: Open
June Lake Trailhead Open to Visitor 09/18/2014:Open, busy on weekends, limited parking.
Kalama Horse Camp Campground Open to Visitor 09/18/2014:Open
Lakes Trail #211 Open to Visitor 09/18/2014: 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 09/18/2014: Open. Clear.
Lava Canyon Interpretive Site Open to Visitor 09/18/2014: Open
Lava Canyon Trail #184 Open to Visitor 09/18/2014: Open
Loowit #216 June Lake #216B to Ape Canyon #234 Open to Visitor 09/18/2014: Open, Caution at gully crossings.
Loowit #216-Butte Camp #238A to Ptarmigan #216A Open to Visitor 09/11/2014: Open
Loowit #216-Ptarmigan #216A to June Lake #216B Open to Visitor 09/18/2014: Open
Loowit #216-Sheep Canyon #240 to Butte Camp #238A Open to Visitor 09/18/2014: Open
Loowit Observation Site Open to Visitor 09/18/2014: Open
Loowit Trail #216 Open to Visitor 09/18/2014: Open covered Conditions Report
Loowit Trail #216 Ape Canyon #234 to Windy Trail Open to Visitor 09/18/2014:Open
Loowit Trail #216 Windy #216E to Castle Ridge#216G Open to Visitor 09/18/2014: Windy Pass is rough, passable.
Meta Lake Interpretive Site Open to Visitor 09/18/2014: Open
Meta Lake Trail #210 Open to Visitor 09/18/2014: Open
Miners Car Interpretive Site Open to Visitor 09/18/2014: Open
Monitor Ridge Climbing Route Open to Visitor 09/18/2014: Open. 2014. Current Climbing Conditions
Mount Margaret Backcountry Open to Visitor 09/18/2014: Open Current Conditions
Muddy River Picnic Site Open to Visitor 09/18/2014: Open
Norway Pass Trailhead Open to Visitor 09/18/2014: Open.
Pine Creek Boulder Interpretive Site Open to Visitor Great place for a picnic.
Pine Creek Information Center Open to Visitor 09/18/2014:Open 7 days a week 9am to 6pm
Ptarmigan Trail #216A Open to Visitor 09/18/2014: Open Clear
Ryan Lake Interpretive Site Open to Visitor 09/18/2014: Open
Science and Learning Center at Coldwater Open to Visitor Open Saturday and Sunday 10am to 6pm. Contact Grace Schmidt at 360-274-2114 for program and group reservations.
Sheep Canyon Trail #240    09/18/2014: Open.
Smith Creek Picnic/Viewpoint Open to Visitor 09/18/2014: Open
Smith Creek Trail #225 Open to Visitor 09/18/2014:Open, rough in places.
Smith Creek Trailhead (Road 8322) Open to Visitor 09/18/2014: Open
Smith Creek Trailhead (Road 99) Open to Visitor 09/18/2014: Open
Sno-Park: Marble Mountain Open to Visitor 09/18/2014:Open.
South Coldwater Trail #230A Open to Visitor 09/18/2014:Open
South Coldwater Trailhead Open to Visitor 09/18/2014: Open
South Side - SR 503, Forest Roads 83, 81 & 90 Open to Visitor 09/18/2014: Forest Road 90 is open. There will be a single-lane closure in place on September 15 and 16, 2014 at the Swift Creek Bridge at MP 4.2. Swift Creek Bridge will be temporarily closed at night from 8:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. on September 17 through September 24, 2014 in order to repair damaged bridge joints. There is no detour. FR 83 is open to Lava Canyon Trail Head. FR 81 is completely open, connecting to the FR 83 on the east side.
Toutle Trail #238 Open to Visitor 09/18/2014: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 09/18/2014: Open.
Truman Trail #207 and Willow Springs Trail #207A Open to Visitor 09/18/2014:Open, brushy in sections. Mountain Bikes and pets are not allowed past the Abraham Trail 216D.
West Side - State Highway 504 Open to Visitor 09/18/2014:Open
Whittier Ridge Trail #214 Open to Visitor 09/18/2014: For very experienced hikers only.
Winds of Change Trail #232 Open to Visitor 09/18/2014: Open Weekends
Windy Ridge Interpretive Site Open to Visitor 09/18/2014: Open Interpretive talks end late Sept.
Windy Trail #216E Open to Visitor 09/18/2014: Open

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.