Mount Margaret Backcountry

Area Status: Unreachable

View of Snow Lake

Hikers may explore trails that lead to clear lakes, steep ridges and flowered mountain slopes of the Mount Margaret Backcountry. Visitors to this rugged and spectacular portion of the Monument can experience effects of the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens. The lateral blast, a hot stone filled wind, shattered trees and swirled around peaks and basins as it toppled thousands of acres of pristine forest.

Trails in the Mount Margaret Backcountry have narrow tread, are steep in places and can climb over 2,000 feet in elevation. Some trails are very challenging. The Whittier Trail #214, in particular, is very narrow and crosses steep cliffs, it is not suitable for hikers that are uncomfortable with heights. Trail is rough and recommenced for experienced hikers only.

Eight backcountry camps can accommodate tent campers. Portions of trails are often covered by snow until midsummer. Be prepared to cross snow slopes if you plan an early season visit.

At a Glance

Current Conditions: Read Mount Margaret Backcountry Conditions Report.  2/20/2019:

Snow and winter conditions are present in the Mount Margaret Backcountry at all elevations.


The Lakes Trail and South Coldwater Trails are open, HOWEVER, ALL trails are covered in deep snow. South Coldwater Trailhead is now 3/4 mile beyond the Highway 504 winter road closure (milepost 45) so hikers will have to park at Hummocks Trail parking lot and walk in. Forest Road 99 is closed for the winter season. Forest Road 26 is closed from the north.


Overnight camping is allowed only at 8 designated sites; permits for these sites will go on sale March 1, 2019 and must be reserved online at or call 1-877-444-6777. Bicycles , stock and fires are prohibited.


Reservations: Permit reservations begin March 1, 2019 and may be made online at or by calling 1- (877) 444 6777, or Hearing impaired: (877) TDD 6777.
Permit Info: A Mount Margaret Backcountry Permit is required for overnight camping in the Mount Margaret Backcounty. Permits go on sale on March 1, 2019.
  • Reservations may be made online at or by phone 1-(877)-444-6777 or Hearing impaired: 1-877-TDD-6777.
Usage: Medium
Best Season: Summer
Busiest Season: Summer
  • To protect natural features, pack stock are prohibited in the Mount Margaret Backcountry.
  • Fires are not allowed, plan to use a camp stove for cooking.
  • Camping is limited to designated campgrounds only.
  • Maximum group size for camping is four people, 8 people at Ridge Camp.
  • Dispersed Camping is authorized without a permit north of the Green River only.
Closest Towns: Randle, WA - Toutle, WA
Water: Treat all non-potable water before consuming.
Passes: Many trailheads that access Mount Margaret Backcountry require a valid Recreation Pass.
Operated By: Forest Service
Information Center: Mount St Helens National Volcanic Monument Headquarters & Visitor Centers

General Information

General Notes:

Attached you will find camp maps with current available water sources. Please note, water availablity may change through out the summer at Ridge Camp and camps located along the Boudary Trail.

 Ridge Camp, Snow Camp, Shovel Camp, Obsurity Camp, Bear Camp, Dome Camp and Margaret Camp


Access Points:

Eastside access:

Westside access:




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