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Lakes Trail
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mini location map2019-05-10
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Lakes TrailVolcano, WA
Volcano, WA
Hiking avatar May 10 2019
Hiking12.51 Miles 2,106 AEG
Hiking12.51 Miles   4 Hrs   37 Mns   2.71 mph
2,106 ft AEG8 LBS Pack
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
Late afternoon hike from the Coldwater Lake Trailhead up to Ridge Camp and back down using the South Coldwater Trail. The road to Johnson Ridge Observatory is closed just beyond the Coldwater Lake Trailhead for only one more week, so I thought this would be a good time to get the hike done since it requires some road walking to connect the trailheads.

Started at about 1700. Nice warm afternoon in the upper 70s, clear skies. Quite a few people out paddling the lake, but I only saw a couple people on trail with the first mile or so from the parking lot, then I had complete solitude for the remainder of the hike.

Took my time as I walked around the lake. The views of Minnie Peak and snow capped peaks further back in the Mount Margaret Backcountry were stunning. There is even a cool beaver lodge at the far north end of the lake, I lingered for a couple minutes, but didn't see any activity around it.

Past the Lakes Trail junction, Coldwater Trail climbs steeply at first, but views open up quickly and before long the trail settles on a more reasonable incline. Pausing for a break at one of the viewpoints, I noticed a large plume of dust rising from a ridge a couple hundred yards away. After focusing in on the dust, I realized it was from a large group of elk that were trampling their way up the hillside, very cool to see from a distance.

I paused for a break at Ridge Camp, only being able to find 1 of the what should be 2 campsites, I sat and had a quick snack before retreating back down trail. On the descent down the ridge I passed by several pieces of old machinery that were destroyed during the eruption. It soon got dark and I put my headlamp on, I startled a couple small herds of elk in the dark, then quickly reached the road and jogged back to where my truck was parked.

Just some personal notes for planned future trips- the trail was 99% snowfree. Only one real patch of snow that was easy enough to walk through. Ridge Camp is indeed dry, it would be best to fill up water at the bridge over the inlet to Coldwater Lake before making the ascent. Ridge Camp has no view of Mt. Saint Helens, but the view of Minnie Peak is stunning. The hike in to Snow Lake looks like it would also be a fairly easy way to access the backcountry as a first night stay with fairly moderate elevation gain, then loop around the Lakes Basin to the Boundary Trail for a 2nd night before heading out. This loop is not ideal for views of Mt. St Helens, only a couple spots where you can catch a partial glimpse of it.
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