Trail #246 Birth of a Lake

Area Status: Open
Boardwalk at Coldwater Lake

This short, accessible boardwalk trail explores the creation of Coldwater Lake. It leaves from the Coldwater Lake Picnic and Boating Area. Interpretive displays explain how the 1980 debris avalanche dammed Coldwater Creek, creating Coldwater Lake. Chewed trees, the sign of beavers at work, can often be seen around the trail. Ripples, caused by trout rising to feed on insects, are also a common sight.

At a Glance

Current Conditions: 11/21/2023: Trail is open.
Fees: No fee or pass required at this time. See Mount St. Helens Map for fee and payment sites.
  • Off-trail travel prohibited.
  • Pets must be on leash at all times.
    • Hiking in this environment can pose the following dangers to pets:
      • Little to no shade
      • Little to no water availability
      • Blowing dust and fine particulate matter
      • Abrasive trail surfaces due to volcanic rock
  • No stock.
  • Day-use only.
  • See Mount St. Helens Map for site rules.
  • No fishing or swimming from Birth of a Lake Trail.
Closest Towns: Toutle, WA, Castle Rock, WA
Water: Yes
Restroom: Yes
Operated By: Forest Service
Information Center:


General Information


From Castle Rock, drive State Route 504 east 43 miles. Stay right where State Route 504 forks towards the Johnston Ridge Observatory. Continue for 1 mile, turn left at Coldwater Lake Picnic and Boating Area. The trailhead is accessed from the picnic area.


Day Hiking

Recreation Areas

Recreation Activities


  Area/Length : 
0.3 miles

  Elevation : 
2475' - 2490'