Trail #238A Butte Camp

Area Status: Open

The trail branches from Toutle Trail 238 at 1.3 miles from Red Rock Pass. Begin by crossing a 1,900-year-old lava flow that is covered with huckleberries when in season. The trail climbs gradually to Lower Butte Camp, an inviting meadow with water and wildflowers which offers good camping. It then climbs in a series of switchbacks to Upper Butte Camp. An open hillside in this segment provides vistas to the south and east. Upper Butte Camp is not really a camp but a sensitive research area. Continue upslope to the junction with Loowit Trail 216 where Mount St. Helens awaits.

Hike through geological time as you travel across a 1900-year-old lava flow, mudflows from the 1980 eruption and, if you desire, to the crater rim of a living volcano (permit required above the 4800 foot elevation). A short 1/8 mile climb up the trail rewards you with a view of Mount St. Helens. 

Because of the relative ease, remarkable views, and the delicious berries that abound in summer, hikers of all ages can enjoy the first portion of this trail. Beyond 1 mile, the trail begins to climb gradually through a gnarled, lodgepole pine forest which has adapted to life on a crusty lava flow. Rest at Lower Butte Camp where an inviting meadow dotted with wildflowers lies between two hillsides of noble fir. Climb to upper Butte Camp where you'll discover subalpine meadows, splendid views to the south, and the imposing flanks of Mount St. Helens dominating the skyline.

This maintained trail traverses a lava flow and then enters a regenerating clearcut. It starts a steady climb through a lodgepole pine forest until reaching Lower Butte Camp. The trail then switchbacks up a hillside through a noble fir forest to the subalpine meadows of Upper Butte Camp.  

Please Leave No Trace.

At a Glance

Current Conditions: 05/16/2023: Expect consistant snow on trails above 3,000 feet. Rapid warming and snowmelt can cause hazardous trail conditions like washouts and landslides, especially along trails that follow steep slopes. There is still snow blocking the road at the top of Red Rock Pass on Forest Road 81
Operational Hours: Forest Road 81 normally melts out and opens towards the end of May. Closes with snow, or Nov. 30.
Fees: No fee or pass required. See Mount St. Helens Map for fee and payment sites.
Permit Info:
  • A Climbing Permit is required for travel above 4,800 ft elevation.
  • Nov. 1 to March 31: Permits self-issued at Marble Mountain Sno-Park, or if open, Climber's Bivouac kiosk.
  • April 1 to Oct 31: Permits are limited in number and purchased in advance, online at
Usage: Medium
Best Season: Summer and Fall
Busiest Season: Summer
  • Please plan on camping at Lower Butte Camp. Upper Butte Camp is not really a camp, but a sensitive reasearch area.
  • Travel is allowed on approved trails only.
  • Off-trail travel and camping are prohibited to protect sensitive natural features and scientific studies. Research permits are required for off-trail travel. 
Closest Towns: Cougar, WA 
Operated By: Forest Service
Information Center:

General Information


Toutle Trail #238 via Red Rock Pass (Forest Road 81) or Loowit Trail #216.  


Mountain Biking

Day Hiking


Related Information

Recreation Areas

Recreation Activities


  Area/Length : 
2.7 miles

  Elevation : 
3500' - 4800'