Hiking: Lava Canyon
A few weeks ago, I spent the weekend in a cabin in the Mt. St. Helens area with some good friends and we did this hike on a Saturday morning. The trailhead was about 45 minutes from the cabin, easy to find and a pretty drive on a misty morning. We passed several other trailheads on the way and I made a mental note that I need to return to this area because there is so much exploring to be done. It was amazing and I highly recommend it!
Hike: Lava Canyon
Date: September 29th, 2017
Hiking Buddies: Matt, Jessie, Kevin, Amanda, Travis
Total distance: 5 miles (Out and Back)
Elevation Gain: 1600 feet
Permit required: Northwest Forest Pass ($30 for annual)
Beer pairing: Cans of Rainier in the parking lot
The hike began with an interpretive trail and almost immediately from the parking lot it was very scenic with big boulders and waterfalls. There were three sections to the trail, an easy, medium and difficult route. We went the difficult way, which I wouldn’t have so much described as difficult, but maybe a little dangerous. The hike wasn’t terribly challenging but was narrow, slippery, and at times, right on the edge of the canyon.
We soon reached a huge 125 foot suspension bridge, with an amazing view of the canyon below and water rushing under our feet. The trail then continued to bring us past several waterfalls, streams and swimming holes until we reached a steep metal ladder that we had to climb down to continue on.
Shortly after, the trail intersected with the Ship Trail, which allows you to climb to a viewpoint on top of a huge lava formation that looks like a ship. You normally can take the Ship Trail to get back but a sign indicated that part of it was closed, so we went back the way we came. We reached the cars, drove to a close by view point of Mt. St. Helens and cracked a few cold beers. This hike and this area in general are like nothing I’ve ever seen. I want to go back!