Mount St. Helen National Volcanic Monument

East Side Hiking Trails

East Side of Mt. St. Helens

There are many trails along Forest Road 99 leading hikers into the heart of the blast area and provide outstanding views of the new lava dome. To ensure a quality hiking experience and your safety, wear sturdy shoes, bring sunscreen, and carry one quart or more of water per person. Water pumps are located at Norway Pass Trailhead on Forest Road 26 and the Meta Lake Trailhead on Forest Road 99.

East Side Trails

Norway Pass #1

Difficulty Level: More Difficult

This 2.5-mile hike gains 900 feet in elevation, and traverses through the heart of the blown-down forest. Captivating views of Spirit Lake and of the massive lava dome inside the crater await you at Norway Pass. From the pass, hikers can continue on the Boundary Trail #1 into the Mount Margaret Backcountry or venture down Independence Pass Trail #227. A round trip hike to Norway Pass requires about 2 1/2 hours.

Independence Pass Trail #227

Difficulty Level: More Difficult

This trail is 3.5 miles long one way and climbs 600 feet to the top of the ridge in the first mile. Within the first mile there is a superb overlook of Spirit Lake and excellent views into the crater and dome. Views of the crater get better the further along the trail you go. The last mile of the trail tread leading to Norway Pass is rather narrow and drop-offs are steep.

Harmony Trail #224

Difficulty Level: More Difficult

Harmony Trail provides the only legal access to Spirit Lake. The hike is more strenuous than it may appear from the trailhead. During the 1-mile hike to the shoreline of Spirit Lake, the trail drops 600 feet in elevation.

The descent to the lake shore takes approximately 35 minutes. Enjoy views of the lava dome upon reaching the lake shore, and try to imagine that the pre-1980 shore line was 200 feet lower than it is today. The ascent back to Harmony Viewpoint takes about 1 hour. Special rules apply when hiking on this trail. Please read"Trails in the Restricted Area" article on this page.

Truman Trail #207

Difficulty Level: More Difficult

The Truman Trail leads to the closest point you can go to view the dome. This trail passes through or by several research plots, so it is critical to stay on the established trail. The trailhead is located at Windy Ridge Viewpoint. Hikers must follow the Truman Trail #207 approximately 4 miles before they can see the lava dome. The return trip is back along the same trail. Allow 3 1/2 to 4 hours round trip. The Truman Trail accesses other trails both in and out of the Restricted Area. Special rules apply when hiking on this trail.

Loowit Trail #216

Difficulty Level: More Difficult

One of the most popular sections of the Loowit Trail, also known as the Round-the-Mountain Trail, passes across the north flank of the volcano. It can be accessed from the Windy Ridge Viewpoint by following the Truman Trail #207 two miles to the Windy Trail 216E. Follow the Windy Trail #216E 1 mile to the Loowit Trail #216. Hike 1.3 miles to the Loowit Falls viewpoint, where you can watch 100 degree F water cascade out of the crater. Beware-- the hot water contains harmful bacteria. Do not approach the waterfalls or stream. Allow 3 1/2 to 4 hours round trip.

Summit Prairie Trail #2

Difficulty Level: More Difficult
Distance: 9 miles (one way)
Open To: Hiking, horses, motor bikes
Access: Road 90 Into Boundary Trail #1, not far from Table Mtn. Trail #263. Loop opportunities: Quartz Creek Trail #5 or Table Mtn. #263. Both exit on Road 90.

Located on the east side of Mount St. Helens, Summit Prairie Trail challenges the hiker with an invigorating stroll uphill, along the ridgetop, through alpine forests and high-country meadows. Scan the horizon for outstanding panoramas filled with snow capped volcanoes and the high, open ridges of Juniper Peak, Dark Divide and Shark Rock Scenic Area. Features: Summit Prairie lookout built in 1932.

Craggy Peak Trail #3

Difficulty Level: More Difficult
Distance: 4 miles (one way)
Open To: Hiking, horses
Access: Road 9327-040 spur and connects into Wright Meadow #80 to the south and northward into Boundary Trail #1, where it ends.

Located east of Mount St. Helens, Craggy Peak Trail leads the hiker along a ridge beneath the deep green canopy of a Pacific silver and noble fir forest, and through meadows d beautiful wildflowers. Features: views of Mt. Rainier and the impressive rock formations along Shark Rock Ridge Scenic Area and Blue Lake. Watch for the side trail to Basin Camp (a good place to camp for stunning sunrise and sunset views of Mt. Adams). Enjoy a long-distance backpacking opportunity by using this trail to access the Quark Creek Trail #5 from the Summit Prairie Trail #2. Pass through a mature stand of Douglas fir and Pacific Silver fir trees.

Snagtooth Trail #4

Difficulty Level: Most Difficult
Distance: 4.8 miles (one way)
Open To: Hiking, horses
Access: Begins at Quark Creek Trail #5; Ends: Boundary Trail #1.

This low-maintained trail climbs steeply from Quark Creek to its connection with Boundary Trail #1 near Yellow Jacket Pass. The trail can also be accessed on Road 9341 for a shorter but steep route to the Boundary Trail.

Quartz Creek Trail #5

Difficulty Level: More Difficult
Distance: 10.6 miles (one way)
Open To: Hiking, horses
Access: Begins: Road 90; Ends: Boundary Trail #1. Quark Creek Trail #5 connects into Lewis River Trail #31 across Road 93. Quark Butte Trail connect this trail to Summit Prairie Trail #2.

Located on the east side d Mount St. Helens, Quark Creek Trail follows Quark Creek drainage, although access to the stream is limited. it is a steep trail (20% grade), ascending and descending through numerous drainages as it climbs its way up the valley. Take advantage of the camping opportunities as you climb through old-growth forests, by waterfalls, moss-covered cliffs, and see the effects the raging wildfire had in the 1880s.

Quartz Creek Butte Trail #5B

Difficulty Level: Most Difficult
Distance: 1.5 miles (one way)
Open To: Hiking
Access: Begins Quark Creek Butte Trail #5 and connects to Summit Prairie Trail #2.

This maintained trail makes a steep descent through a forested area from Summit Prairie Trail #2 to Quark Creek Trail #5. The first 1/3 miles climbing out of the Quark Creek drainage is the steepest portion of the trail.

Cusseed Hallow Trail #19

Difficulty Level: Most Difficult
Distance: 3.3 miles (one way)
Open To: Hiking, horses, bikes
Access: Begins at Forest Road 93; Ends at Wright Meadow Trail #80.

This maintained trail descends at a steep and steady grade. it follows along the course of Cussed Hollow Creek, then passes through the old burn area near the junction of the Wright Meadow Trail. From there it is approximately 3/4 mile via Wright Meadow Trail #80 to Forest Rd. 90.

Bluff Trail #24

Difficulty Level: Most Difficult
Distance: 2.7 miles (one way)
Open To: Hiking, horses
Access: Begins at Forest Rd. 93; Ends at Lewis River Trail #31.

This maintained trail loses 2000 feet in elevation as it descends to the Lewis River. it traverses down ridge line and connects into Lewis River Trail # 31, near Cussed Hallow Creek, about 1/4 mile downstream from the upper bridge crossing of the Lewis River on Forest Road 90. The trail is steep and recommended for strong hikers only. Water is unavailable until you near the vicinity of the Lewis River.
There are many trails along Forest Road 99 leading hikers into the heart of the blast area and provide outstanding views of the new lava dome. To ensure a quality hiking experience and your safety, wear sturdy shoes, bring sunscreen, and carry one quart or more of water per person. Water pumps are located at Norway Pass Trailhead on Forest Road 26 and the Meta Lake Trailhead on Forest Road 99.

Wildcat Trail #25

Difficulty Level: Most Difficult
Distance: 4.5 miles (one way)
Open To: Hiking, horses
Access: Begins at Forest Rd. 93; Ends at Rd. 2573.

This unmaintained trail follows a level grade through a western white pine forest for approximately 1 1/4 miles. It then descends into a Douglas fir forest at a steep grade and becomes hard to distinguish. The trail is crisscrossed by game trails. A compass, a topographic map, and orienteering skills are strongly recommended.

Wright Meadow Trail #80

Difficulty Level: More Difficult
Distance: 7.5 miles (one way)
Open To: Hiking, horses, motor bikes
Access: Road 90 and connects into Lewis River Trail #31 and Cussed Hollow Trail #19. It is also connected to Craggy Peak Trail #3 via Road 9327 040. The trail ends Road 255-101.

Located on the east side of Mount St. Helens, Wright Meadow Trail passes through a varied forest setting. Pass through a mature forest, cross creeks, clear cuts, and eventually Wright Meadow-a grassy glade surrounded by forest. Be sure to watch for the elk which often stop to graze there.

Abraham Trail #216D

Difficulty Level: More Difficult
Distance: 2 miles (one way)
Open To: Hiking
Access: Road 99 Windy Ridge via Truman Trail #207 connecting with Loowit Trail #216.

Located on the east side of Mount St. Helens, Trail #216 D begins 2 miles south of the Windy Ridge Viewpoint on Road 99. The trail is accessed by an abandoned road (Truman Trail #207) at the southeast side of the parking lot. Mountain bike use is permissible on this portion d the Truman, to where It intersects with the Abraham Trail #216 D. From the Truman the trail climbs a steep and narrow ridge. It then travels on the west slope for 1/2 mile before crossing over to descend to the Plains of Abraham and connecting with Loowit Trail #216. Features: Close-up view of the east side of Mount St. Helens, Shoestring Glacier, East Dome, Ape Glacier, Nelson Glacier, Dogs Head, Forsyth Glacier, Sugar Bowl.

Spencer Butte Trail #30

Difficulty Level: More Difficult
Distance:1.5 miles to Spencer Butte (one way); 3.0 from Trailhead to Trailhead.
Open To:Hiking, horses, bikes, motorcycles.
Access:Begins at Lower Trailhead Forest Rd. 93;; Ends at Upper Trailhead end of primitive road near Spencer Meadow.

Spencer Butte is accessed by two different trailheads. The lower one climbs through a Douglas fir forest and provides a limited view. The upper starts near Spencer meadow at the end of a primitive road. This route provides open views through a western white pine forest. The entire route is maintained and ascends steadily from each trailhead to the summit of Butte. The trail is dry and ascends a fairly steep grade (20%).

Smith Creek Trail #225

Difficulty Level: More Difficult
Distance:9.0 miles (one way).
Open To:Hiking, bikes.
Access:Road 99.

This trail follows the Smith Creek drainage, descending steadily to Smith Creek. The trail follows sections of old roads and crosses open sections which are marked by wooden post route markers. The trail crosses the Muddy River via a bridge and ends at the lower Smith Creek trailhead on Forest Road 8322. Come prepared: bring plenty of drinking water!


Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication

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