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Harry's Ridge

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Everyone knows about Harry Truman-not to be confused with the former U.S. president, but the sweet old curmudgeon with the just-as-old cats. Harry and his cats refused to evacuate from his beloved Spirit Lake home when the volcano started to awaken. He's still there somewhere, as much a part of the mountain as he ever was. This short trail on the ridge above Spirit Lake is one of the most picturesque routes in the monument.

Head east along the Boundary Trail. For 2 miles, you'll be able to stroll along the narrow ridge, staring across the broad blast plain in front of the gaping maw of the mountain's breach. Utter devastation-but beautiful! The trail loops around one steeply sloped ridge spine just past the 2-mile mark before reaching a junction with the Truman Trail. Stay left at the junction to head north.

At 3.3 miles out, another trail junction awaits. Turn right onto this path, the Harrys Ridge Trail. It crosses over the ridge between you and Spirit Lake, then rolls south again, this time on the slope above Spirit. For a mile you can walk and gawk. Look down on Spirit Lake. Note the raft of logs that still jams the lake surface, twenty-six years after the blast-the remains of the once great forest that surrounded the lake.

Once you've had your fill of fantastic scenery, or (more likely) you just run out of time, turn back and return the way you came.
Driving Directions:

From Castle Rock, drive about 43 miles east on Highway 504 to the Coldwater Visitor Center and continue on to the road's end at Johnston Ridge Observatory. The trailhead is on the east end of the parking lot.

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Recent Trip Reports

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There are 30 trip reports for this hike. See all trip reports for this hike.
Harry's Ridge — Oct 23, 2013 — staziemom
Day hike
Features: Fall foliage
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With all the fog forecast, it appeared this was the best day for this hike, and it appears I was rig...
With all the fog forecast, it appeared this was the best day for this hike, and it appears I was right.
Things you need to know-
The Johnston Observatory is open at 10am. You must obtain a wrist band to hike. Do not leave your National Park pass in your window, you will need it to show the Ranger along with an ID.
Wear glasses or eye protection, especially if it is windy (check weather service for EAST wind) It gets very windy up there and blows around the ash, which is like itty bitty bits of glass.
Bring hiking poles, the volcanic gravel is shifty.
If you are hiking from the Observatory to Harry's Ridge, down to the falls, or along the boundary trail you will have to traverse "razorback ridge". This is a spine tingling, phobia inducing trail along a very narrow path with a shear drop, loose gravel, boulders perched above you with washed out areas. The poles are a must, if for nothing else in this section than a sense of security.

I highly recommend hiking up to the ridge. The views of Mt. Adams almost overshadow St. Helen's. The views of Spirit Lake with all the matchstick logs still floating are humbling and breathtaking.

There were herds of Elk far below in the Toutle Valley. The fall colors are beautiful at this time, I do not know when the Observatory will close for the winter, but go while you have a chance!
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Harry's Ridge — Sep 01, 2013 — curmudgeon
Day hike
Issues: Bugs
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Holy bugs. Everywhere. On everything. ...
Holy bugs. Everywhere. On everything.
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Harry's Ridge — Aug 09, 2013 — motherdaugherhikers
Day hike
Features: Wildflowers blooming | Ripe berries
Issues: No water source
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My mom was out visiting and we picked this hike since it looked like it might be something a little ...
My mom was out visiting and we picked this hike since it looked like it might be something a little different. We are so glad we went. The views are wonderful, and on the day we went we were able to clearly see St. Helens, Spirit Lake, Mt. Rainer, and Mt. Adams. There were still lots of wildflowers blooming all along the trail, lots of chipmunks out and about, and we saw both huckleberries and strawberries. Neither of us are very experienced hikers and we did the full 8 miles out and back. The trail is clearly marked, and with our guidebook, we had no trouble knowing which way to go at signposts. Bringing water to drink is essential. Lots of other friendly hikers out as well. One especially nice German guy offered to take our photo and chatted a bit - I'm so sorry that I didn't ask his name!


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Harry's Ridge — Aug 01, 2013 — emilyrides
Day hike
Features: Wildflowers blooming | Ripe berries
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Very foggy and misty day. Didn't see much of the mountain. Peaked out a little on our way back to th...
Very foggy and misty day. Didn't see much of the mountain. Peaked out a little on our way back to the visitor center. Still a great day for a hike and the heavy fog added to the desolate atmosphere of the blast zone. Word on fees-nothing needed in your car. A forest pass will admit one adult. After that $8/person. Pay inside the observatory. They said if we get up there earlier than the 10 o'clock opening time, just pay when you get back from the hike. Saw a lot of ripe huckleberries and alpine strawberries.
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Harry's Ridge — Jul 30, 2013 — Muledeer
Day hike
Features: Wildflowers blooming
Issues: No water source
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This is a very interesting hike in many ways. It takes you thru the blast zone with views of St. Hel...
This is a very interesting hike in many ways. It takes you thru the blast zone with views of St. Helens, Spirit Lake, and the surrounding peaks knocked bare by the eruption. A moderate hike, not a lot of elevation gain until the ridge, but it is all exposed to the sun, and as expected, dusty with volcanic ash. Be sure to bring water. Some of the wildflowers have gone to seed, but there are still some blooming, and the air was fragrant with lupine. The first time we saw Spirit Lake after the eruption (1986), it was grey with ash, choked with logs, and blended in with the surrounding grey hills. The last time we were here (2000) there was no snow on the mountain and the crater was still steaming. What a change we saw today! Snow on the lava dome, green hills, and a beautiful blue Spirit Lake! The only strange thing, it's posted at the TH which takes off from the parking lot, that a forest pass will work...but then we were told we needed a bracelet, basically paying 8$ to get in. (We started before the opening and were just finishing). That need to be clarified in the signage where they list all the acceptable passes.
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View of Mount Adams and Spirit Lake from Harry's Ridge - Thomas Elsnab.jpg
View of Mount Adams and Spirit Lake from Harry's Ridge. Photo: Thomas Elsnab.
Location
Harry's Ridge (#1.7)
South Cascades -- Mt. St. Helens
USFS Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument
Statistics
Roundtrip 8.0 miles
Elevation Gain 200 ft
Highest Point 4400 ft
Features
Lakes
Mountain views
Ridges/passes
User info
Dogs not allowed
Northwest Forest Pass required
Guidebooks & Maps
South Cascades
Green Trails No. 332 Spirit Lake

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Red MarkerHarry's Ridge
46.2765199 -122.2164843
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