The west end of this trail is open to hikers only (from Bear Meadows west). The east end of the trail is open to motorcycles, hikers, horses and bicycles (from Bear Meadows east).
The Boundary Trail is 53.7 miles long and has numerous access points and trail junctions. The trail once formed the boundary between the Columbia and Rainier National Forests. Now it marks the southern boundary of the Cowlitz Valley District. This was an important trail in the early history of the Forest Service as it was the principal route used by rangers on horseback patrols. The trail was well established by 1911.
From the west the trail begins at Norway Pass area within the Mt. St. Helens National Volcanic Monument. (View a Mount St. Helens vicinity map). From Norway Pass to Bear Meadows the trail is open to hikers only. Enjoy excellent views of Mount St. Helens as you hike through the blown-down forest. From Bear Meadows eastward the trail is open to hikers, horses, motorcycles and bicycles. From Bear Meadow to Elk Pass (4.5 miles), the trail is on a timbered, broad ridge, with occasional views of St. Helens Along its length, this trail offers views of St. Helens, Rainier, Adams and a few glimpses of Hood. This area was glaciated repeatedly during the Ice Age. The marks of the glaciers' passage can be seen in the knifelike ridges and cirque basins all along the trail. The trail ends in the east at Council Lake.
Hummocks to Johnston Ridge
Beginning at its intersection with the short loop trail Boundary Trail #1 (area is unavailable) offers hikers the opportunity to see firsthand the effects of the May 1980 eruption. Views of Mount St. Helens and North Fork Toutle River valley are among the sights.
Begin at Hummock/Boundary Trailhead and take the Hummocks Trail #229 for 0.5 miles to it's junction with Boundary Trail #1. Elk can often be seen around the junction, grazing in the grassy meadows. The trail crosses debris avalanche deposits before beginning the steep and steady climb of Johnston Ridge. Switchbacks cross patches of blast shattered stumps and blown down trees. After the initial 1200-foot elevation gain, the trail traverses Johnston Ridge, offering views of the debris-filled North Fork Toutle River valley and Mount St. Helens. The trail then passes Loowit Viewpoint, climbs 200 feet in 0.8 mile, and brings you to Johnston Ridge Observatory, 4.6 miles from the junction with Hummocks Trail.
Stop here or continue on Boundary Trail #1 towards spirit lake access via Truman Trail #207.
Johnston Ridge to Truman Trail
This section of the Boundary Trail is beautiful hike through the Mount St Helens blast area offering up views of Spirit Lake, Loowit Falls and the Mount St. Helens crater.
From Boundary Trail #1 (area is unavailable) travels east towards spirit lake to it's junction with Truman Trail #207. Head south on Truman Trail #207 just east of Spririt Lake, or continue north along the Boundary Trail #1 to Coldwater Peak then east to Norway Pass.
Norway Pass TH to Norway Pass
Enjoy one of the Monument's most dramatic views at Norway Pass. This maintained section of Boundary Trail #1 (area is unavailable) trail climbs from the Norway Pass Trailhead to Norway Pass at a steady grade. It follows the north side of the ridge providing views of Meta Lake, Mount Adams and Mount Rainier. Mount St. Helens remains hidden from view until the trail reaches a rewarding vista at Norway Pass. Portions of this part of the trail are steep and little shade is offered. Be sure to get water at the trailhead and carry plenty with you.
Boundary Trail #1 (area is unavailable) spans 32.4 miles running from Mount St Helens east to Council Lake within Cowlitz Valley area.
Truman #207 to Norway Pass
This section of Boundary Trail #1 (area is unavailable) runs 13.2 miles from Truman Trail #207 to Norway Pass Trailhead east to west. Most people accessing this portion of Boundary Trail #1 will start at Norway Pass Trailhead and hike west. Norway Pass Trailhead is a major access point to Mount Margaret Backcountry.
From Norway Pass Trailhead this maintained trail climbs steadily east to Norway Pass and then switchbacks up to Bear Pass. You'll pass junctions with Independence Ridge Trail #227A, Independence Pass Trail #227 and Lakes Trail #211. Boundary Trail #1 follows the north side of the ridge providing views of Meta Lake, Mount Adams and Mount Rainier. Mount St. Helens remains hidden from view until the trail reaches a rewarding vista at Norway Pass which is one of the Monument's most dramatic views. Portions of this part of the trail are steep and little shade is offered. The trail continues east to traverse the Mount Margaret ridgeline. It then descends from Mt. Margaret and then climbs steeply to the Coldwater Peak area and its junction with Truman Trail #207
Although in the midst of the blast zone, the trail is alive with color. In summer, rich greens and the vibrant hues of wildflowers paint the area. Enjoy views of Mount St. Helens and Spirit Lake. To the north, Mount Whittier rises abruptly from the Coldwater Valley, and Mount Rainier can be seen on the distant horizon. Take the side trip to Coldwater Peak and enjoy an outstanding panorama of the beautiful Cascade Mountains and Mount St. Helens' dynamic volcanic landscape.
Norway Pass to Elk Pass
This section of the Boundary Trail #1 (area is unavailable) starts at Norway Pass Trailhead and heads east to to Elk Pass Trailhead. Ghost Lake Trail #1H is accessible along this section. You'll reach the junction to this short trail leading north along clearwater Creek to Ghost Lake before just west of the Monument boundary.
Enjoy excellent views of Mount St. Helens as you hike through the blown-down forest within the Monument. The trail winds in and out of patches of green and standing dead timber. You will observe that many trees were protected from the searing blast winds by high ridges deflecting the main force of the eruption, leaving some trees only singed and others untouched. Take a side trip to explore the eerie shores of Ghost Lake which is surrounded by the gray skeletal remains of what was once a lush green forest. As you walk look for small trees that survived the eruption because they were shielded beneath a blanket of snow!
As you continue you will enter a forest that is much like the one that once surrounded Mount St. Helens and Spirit Lake before the Mount St Helens eruption in 1980. You'll access views of the jagged peak of Mount Hood and the lush young forest of the Clearwater Valley. This valley was salvaged and replanted following the eruption.
Care should be taken not to disturb developing plant and animal life along the fragile shoreline of Ghost Lake.
Elk Pass to Yellow Jacket
This 8 mile section of Boundary Trail #1 is open to motorcycle, hiker, horse and bicycle use.
This section runs from Elk Pass Trailhead to Hat Rock accessed by Yellowjacket Trail #1A.
Catch glimpses of Mount Rainier, Pinto Rock and vistas to the south as you travel along a ridgetop cloaked in a fir forest. At approximately 4 miles, explore the short but rugged side trail Badger Ridge Trail #257 to Badger Peak. The view from the summit is superb. A Forest Service fire lookout cabin was once perched on top of this rocky peak. Take a refreshing break at Badger Lake which offers a pumice beach, cool waters and green meadows.
Follow the ridge through a canopy of trees until you break out into the open near the towering walls of Kirk Rock. Marmots inhabit the area so listen for their shrill whistles of alarm. Alternating views to the north and south await you as you make your way towards the pinnacle of Shark Rock. Beneath the crown of Craggy Peak is the junction of Craggy Peak Trail #3. Descend to Yellowjacket Pass and then climb through the forest until passing beneath the impressive cliffs of Hat Rock. The summit of Craggy Peak can be reached by following a climbers' path up the south ridge, leave the Boundary Trail at the high point where the trail crosses the saddle just east of the Craggy Peak Trail junction.
This maintained trail travels at a fairly level grade until Shark Rock. East of Shark Rock the trail makes a series of steep ascents and descents before junctioning with Yellowjacket Trail #1A (accessed on Forest Road 2810).
Yellow Jacket to Council Lake
This section of Boundary Trail #1 is open to motorcycle, hiker, horse and bicycle use.
This 13.8 mile section of Boundary Trail #1 begins at Yellowjacket Trail #1A and travels east to Council Lake. This maintained trail travels along the divide of the Lewis and Cispus River watersheds. Its elevation is 4000 feet or above, ascending and descending out of stream drainages.
This trail provides expansive views of the South Cascade Mountains. The trail passes beneath the flat plateau of Table Mountain. You may find solitude in this remote setting as well as access numerous scenic trails and enjoy extended loop opportunities.
Check out the Official Route.
This is a difficult hike. It would be insane to attempt this entire hike without prior experience hiking.
This hike is listed as One-Way.
When hiking several trails on a single "hike", log it with a generic name that describes the hike. Then link the trails traveled, check out the example.
WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.