Mt. St. Helens South Side: Forest Roads 83 & 81

Area Status: Open
This area is Open

Forest Road 83: This nine-mile, paved road passes through forests, over 2,000 year-old lava flows and across a 1980 mudflow created during the eruption. From Forest Road 8303, a spur road, visit Trail of Two Forests Interpretive Site or Ape Cave. Continuing driving on 83 to access June Lake Trail, Lahar Viewpoint (the only clear view of the mountain’s south side from the road), Ape Canyon Trail and Lava Canyon Interpretive Site. See Mount St. Helens Map.

Forest Road 81: This mostly gravel, very rough road transports you through less traveled parts of the Monument. Spur Road 830 ends at Climber’s Bivouac Trailhead, the start of the summer climbing route. The road winds west to Red Rock and Blue Lake Trailheads, and Kalama Horse Camp Campground, eventually connecting back with Highway 503. See Mount St. Helens Map.

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At a Glance

Current Conditions: Forest Roads 83 & 81 are open. Forest Road 8303 to Ape Cave is gated just past Trail of Two Forest Recreation site and is closed to both pedestrian  and vehicle traffic. Ape Cave remains closed.
Permit Info:
Usage: Medium-Heavy
Best Season: Summer - Fall
Busiest Season: Summer
  • Climbing Permits are by advance reservation only from April 1st thru October 31st. A climbing quota is in effect of 100 climbers per day May 15th thru October 31st.
  • No parking allowed on Forest Road 83.
Closest Towns: Cougar, WA
Water: No
Restroom: Ape Cave,Lava Canyon and Climbers Bivouac
Information Center:

Recreation Map

Map showing recreational areas. Map Information



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Horse Riding & Camping

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Nature Viewing

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OHV Riding & Camping

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Winter Sports

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XC Skiing/Snowshoeing

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Recreation areas with activity Snowmobiling:

NOTE: The area north of Mount St. Helens (within the Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument) is a Restricted Area. It includes the crater, pumice plain to the north and the Spirit Lake basin. The area is closed to the public in order to provide for the recovery of the land and to avoid disturbance of scientific studies. For more information contact the Monument headquarters.

Violations of 36 CFR 261 may result in confiscation of equipment, fines up to $5,000.00, and/or six months in jail.
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