Mount Margaret Backcountry

Area Status: Open
This area is Open

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. 08/11/2019: Caution: Lakes Trail #211 has collapsed approximately 8 miles east of Coldwater Trailhead near Snow Lake. While Forest Service and volunteer trail crews are working to repair the trail, it will be some time before work is complete. Use extreme caution if hiking in this area. Most of Mount Margaret Backcountry is snow-free. Water sources may now be dry.


Snow is still present in the Mount Margaret Backcountry. Expect to cross snow-covered terrain, especially at high elevations. Water can be scarce in areas of the Mount Margaret Backcountry, particularly along Boundary Trail #1, and may only be available seasonally.



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: Water is often seasonal springs or snow melt and not always available.
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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