Hike and Bike: Mount St. Helens

Lucky us: We live near some of the best hiking and mountain biking trails in the Pacific Northwest. Want to break a sweat? Take a stroll before lunch? There’s a trail for that.

With Courtney Nash, Judy Naegeli, Erin Reading, and Kasey Cordell Edited by Laura Dannen By Hayley Poole and Craig Romano May 17, 2010 Published in the June 2010 issue of Seattle Met

 Ape Canyon

DIFFICULT Ever wonder what it’s like to cross the moon? We’re guessing it’s a bit like this (minus gravity). More than 17 miles of single-track cut through the blast zone, following lahars (mud and rock flow) and slicing through volcanic ash. Start with a steep 1,400-foot climb past red cedars and Douglas firs that survived the eruption, and level out onto the Plains of Abraham, a ridge where the trail goes soft and the views turn desolate. Ape Canyon looms below, while a face-smacking view of Mount St. Helens reminds you who’s in charge. INSIDER TIP Bring the bike with the good suspension—lots of gravel roads and dried creek beds to cross. —Laura Dannen

Round Trip 21 miles. Duration 4–6 hours. Distance from Downtown 140 miles. Permits and Passes Northwest Forest Pass. Map Green Trails no. 364 Mt St Helens. Find it.


Lewis River

MODERATE This smooth single-track is as fast as the river it’s tracing, cutting a path through a scenic stretch of old-growth forest. Huff and puff your way up and down small, steep hills to the northern end, where waterfall views and swimming holes await. —LD 

Round Trip Up to 26 miles. Duration 4–5 hours. Distance from Downtown 160 miles. Permits and Passes None. Map Green Trails no. 365 Lone Butte. Find it.


Norway Pass

MODERATE This hike’s a blast—literally. Navigate pumice fields and matchstick forests in the heart of Mount St. Helens’s 1980 blast zone. Despite taking a direct hit from the volcano, which leveled trees for 230 square miles and blanketed the landscape in ash, this area is no barren wasteland. Nature has been busy recolonizing. Avalanche lilies are prolific, and the hills are alive with furry fury—from ground squirrels to elk. This harsh topography is awe—inspiring, especially when viewed from Norway Pass at 4,500 feet, where you can see the mount’s crater and dome reflected in Spirit Lake below. INSIDER TIP Shade is nonexistent. Slather on the sunscreen. —Craig Romano

Round Trip 4.5 miles. Duration 3 hours. Distance from Downtown 140 miles. Permits and Passes Northwest Forest Pass. Map Green Trails no. 332 Spirit Lake. Find it.
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