Up close and personal with Mt. St. Helens
This hike follows Trail #234 from the Ape Canyon Trail head for the first 5.5 miles to the junction with the Loowit Trail #216, which goes completely around Mt. St. Helens. T
The hike begins a modest climb along the edge of a mud flow from the 1980 eruption of Mt. St. Helens. Compare the devastation of the mud flow area with the area where the trail is located, and you get some sense of how cataclysmic the eruption event was to the non-blast side of the mountain.
The hike takes you through a young immerging forest for about 1.4 miles, then you are treated to one of the few remaining old growth forests which flank the mountain. Most did not survive the eruption of 1980. At this point the trail begins to climb more steeply, and you will encounter a number of switchbacks. The views later on will reward your efforts so keep going!
As the trail proceeds to the head of Ape Canyon you will experience a bit of up and down hiking. With each ridge you climb, you are higher than the one before, even though you may drop some elevation in between. Also, with each ridge you climb, you get better and better views.
At about 5.5 miles you will come to the head of Ape Canyon. Here you get views of Mt. Hood, Mt. Rainier, Mt. Adams and of course Mt. St. Helens. To extend your hike, turn right on the Loowit traill #216 and follow this trail uphill towards the Plains of Abraham. In season, the plains are covered in beautiful lupine.
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.