Hike 43
The Gifford Pinchot National Forest
Mount St. Helens Rim Hike
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Map of the Mount St Helens Climb Hike

Length: 10.5 Miles round trip
Elevation Change: 4450' Elevation gain
Season: Late Spring thru Fall
Difficulty:   Very Difficult
Permit:   NW Forest Pass Required

GPS:   N46 8.796, W122 10.974
Latitude:   46.1466
Longitude:   -122.1829
Volcano Alert Call this number to see if this trail is closed:  360-449-7800

 Click for PDF Topo Map of this Hike 

Actually, Mount St Helens can be climbed any time of year. However, regardless of when you climb this mountain, you must obtain a climbing permit. Permits are now available through the internet.


All 100 permits per day are done online through the Mount St. Helens Institute for a fee.

To register and pay for a pass use this Link.

Once you have your permit, drive to the trail head for the climb at a place called Climbers Bivouac which is at the end of Forest Road #830. Depending on the time of year, the trail to the top of Mount St Helens can be covered with varying amounts of snow. I climbed the mountain on July 22, and never had to walk on snow.

The trail is well marked both in the forested areas as well as on the mountain itself. On the mountain the trail is designated by tall posts. As you begin the hike/climb you will hike for the first couple miles in dense forest. The trail gets increasingly steeper each step of the way.

At a couple miles you will cross the Loowit Trail that circles Mount St Helens. There is a restroom there for your convenience. Then the trail gets very steep. You remain in the trees for another half mile or so, then you break out into the open. At this point you must find your way to the top of the mountain by following the pole markers well placed almost all the way. The trail follow Monitor Ridge to the top of the mountain.

The steepness is not the most difficult part of this hike. It seems to me that negotiating your way through the lava boulders is the greatest challenge, especially when you are coming down the mountain. Never the less, this hike is so very worth it. It just doesn't get any better than this. There are no technical aspects of this hike, and yet you end up on top of a real mountain.

Of course the views are everything.

The summit of Mount St Helens in the Mount St Helens National Volcanic Area
The summit of Mount St Helens
How to get there:

 Click for PDF Directions Map of this Hike 

From Woodland, WA
From the junction with I-5 follow SR503 east from Woodland, WA approximately 23 miles to the junction of the Lewis River Road with SR503. Continue east on the Lewis River Road another 4.4 miles to the junction of Forest Road 81 just before you get to Cougar. Continue east through Cougar on the Lewis River Road, which becomes Forest Road 90, for about 7.4 miles to the junction of Forest Roads 90 and 83. Turn left on FR83. In about 1.7 miles you will pass the road that leads to the Ape Caves, but continue north on FR83. In another 1.3 miles you will come to the junction to Forest Road 81. Bear left onto FR81 and after another 1.7 miles you will come to Forest Road 830 on your right. Bear right and follow FR830 for 2.7 miles to Climber's Bivouac and the trailhead to climb Mount St. Helens.

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A Virtual Hike of the Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument

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