Coldwater Lake Picnic and Boating Site

Area Status: Open
South end from shore

Coldwater Lake Recreation Area is located 45 miles east of Castle Rock in the heart of the blast zone near the Science and Learning Center at Coldwater and Johnston Ridge Observatory. Experience the effect the May 18, 1980 eruption had on the Coldwater Valley, including creating a brand new lake. Kayaking is popular here. Combustion engines are prohibited on the lake, but anglers reach trophy trout by electric motors, rowing, or kicking. See Restrictions section.

The 0.6 miles accessible Birth of a Lake Interpretive Trail allows visitors to enjoy close up views of Coldwater Lake.

Accessible Adventures Video

At a Glance

Current Conditions: 11/21/2023: Coldwater Lake is open. State Route 504 is gated at the winter gate just beyond the Hummocks Trailhead.
Usage: Light-Medium
  • Camping is not permitted.
  • Pets must be on leash at all times.
  • Gasoline motors are prohibited. Must be removed from the boat if you wish to enter the lake.
  • Selective Gear Rules apply. See Washington State Sports Fishing Rules Booklet.
  • Gear is limited to artificial flies with barbless single hooks or lures with barbless single hooks and bait is prohibited. Up to 3 hooks may be used. Only knotless nets may be used to land fish.
  • Inlet and outlet streams closed to fishing.
  • Trout min size 18 inches. Daily limit 1.
Closest Towns: Castle Rock, WA, Toutle, WA
Water: Potable Water
Restroom: Flush toilets
Passes: No passes currently required for use. See Mount St. Helens Map for fee and payment sites.
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.


 See video

Recreation Map

Map showing recreational areas. Map Information


Lake and Pond Fishing

Recreation areas with activity Lake and Pond Fishing:
Shoreline access is limited, but a boat launch and fish cleaning station are available. WA State fishing liscense required. Gasoline motors are prohibited, but electric fishing motors are allowed. Rainbow trout stocked in the late 1980s are reproducing on their own; no additional planting is planned. Cutthroat trout , both coastal and westslope (and hybrids) also inhabit the lake. Single barbless hook, artificial lures only (no bait), with a 16-inch minimum size and one-fish daily limit.

Day Hiking

Recreation areas with activity Day Hiking:

Interpretive Areas

Recreation areas with activity Interpretive Areas:


Recreation areas with activity Picnicking:

Several picnic tables scattered near the parking area.

Boating - Non-Motorized

Recreation areas with activity Boating - Non-Motorized:

Recreation Areas

Recreation Activities


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