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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 — Jun 22, 2013 — Karen Daubert
Day hike
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This was my first ever hike in the Mount St. Helens National Monument, so I chose several trails to ...
This was my first ever hike in the Mount St. Helens National Monument, so I chose several trails to explore on what turned out to be a day that I never wanted to end. The views throughout the day changed with each turn of the trail as did the sky as did the vegetation. Spectacular!

I left the car at the Johnston Ridge Observatory (park in the far southeast corner of the lot) at 8 am. Do not be discouraged or confused with the signs about permits. So long as you have your National Park permit or NW forest pass, you are fine as confirmed by the Ranger that I spoke with at the end of the day.

From the beginning, the views of the volcano and its impact are extraordinary. I hiked the Johnston Ridge Trail to the first fork where I continued left/straight towards Harry's Ridge. Instead of heading up the ridge, I continued north, intersecting the Coldwater Lake trail.

Here the trail does the craziest thing - it proceeds straight through a large hole in the ridge - quite fun! At this time of year, there was still snow on the trail so most hikers will want to turn around and call it a day. Not knowing when I would return, I decided to see how far I could get and ended up venturing up the trail to the top of Coldwater Peak and then on above St. Helens Lake to The Dome where I enjoyed a late lunch.

At that point, I rounded a corner and almost ran into a smelly goat that was as surprised to see me as I to see it. We parted ways quickly. I retraced my steps and hiked to the top of Harry's Ridge - probably the most spectacular view of the mountain and Spirit Lake below. It was greatly rewarding to see so many families and groups of friends out on this beautiful day.

I returned to the Observatory just five minutes before they closed at 6 - in time to talk with the friendly Ranger and suggested that the signage about permits be clear - that all state and national permits are sufficient.

I celebrated the fabulous day at Castle Rock's Parker's which was packed with locals enjoying the pub while I savored a steak salad in their restaurant. The next morning, en route to visiting my 100 year old grand aunt in Morton, I enjoyed a fabulous breakfast at the bakery/cafe in Mossyrock.
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Harry's Ridge, Boundary Trail Traverse — Oct 08, 2011 — jbrandt23
Day hike
Features: Wildflowers blooming | Fall foliage
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Partly sunny day turned into a mostly sunny day. When we arrived around 2pm most of the mountain wa...
Partly sunny day turned into a mostly sunny day. When we arrived around 2pm most of the mountain was cloud covered, but by the time we reached Harry's Ridge 3:45 pm the clouds had cleared and we got a perfect view of the crater. The fall colors were amazing, very few hikers, great trail conditions. Still some indian paintbrush, lupines, and yarrows blooming.
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Harry's Ridge — Aug 17, 2011 — Hikingqueen
Day hike
Features: Wildflowers blooming
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Took my mom to Helens, I had been many times only to see fog and not the mountain, today was worth t...
Took my mom to Helens, I had been many times only to see fog and not the mountain, today was worth the 3 hour drive each way! Weather was prefect, sunny, not too hot, nice breeze. Mom was impressed. The views along the trail are ever-changing, the landscape provides much diversity in color. The wildflowers are past prime and some going to seed already. But still very beautiful. The trail is easy and in good shape. View over Spirit lake with Adams was killer! Saw a heard of elk lounging on the way back.
They are doing some work in the parking lot, but didn't affect our good times. Not many people up here for a beautiful summer day.
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Harry's Ridge — Aug 06, 2011 — thebrink
Day hike
Features: Wildflowers blooming
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This was the fourth time going to Mt St Helen's hoping to finally actually see the mountain. The are...
This was the fourth time going to Mt St Helen's hoping to finally actually see the mountain. The area was pretty well socked in with fog and clouds on the road up. A sign at the Johnston Ridge Visitor Center read "the weather will clear up, sometime today". Our group got lucky and on the way back from Harry's Ridge we did get to see most of the mountain.

The wildflowers are fantastic. They seem to be at about their height of blooming. Even in the fog they gave us something to look at along the trail when the long distance views were obscured by fog.

If you hike to harry's Ridge, note that even though the gain is listed as 200 feet, it was a bit over 2,000 with the up and down loss/gain there and back. The trail is in very good condition-even Devils Elbow, which had some repairs done to it since I hiked it a year ago. And no snow!
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Harry's Ridge — Jul 02, 2011 — Eric Jain
Day hike
Features: Wildflowers blooming
Issues: Snow on trail
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The huge parking lot at the Johnston Ridge Observatory was empty, apart from a handful of cars at 9a...
The huge parking lot at the Johnston Ridge Observatory was empty, apart from a handful of cars at 9am. Looks like you're supposed to register, even if you have a valid pass such as the America the Beautiful pass, but we didn't want to wait another hour for the observatory to open.

We were glad that the trail was in good condition and dry well past the narrow, exposed section of the boundary trail; after that there were smaller and larger patches of soft, well-consolidated snow on the trail. Didn't need any traction devices or even gaiters to make it to the highpoint of Harry's Ridge.

Looked like it was a bit early for wildflowers (some Penstemon and Lupine near the observatory, and lots of Avalanche Lilies below Harry's Ridge), but the stunning views of Mt St Helens (and Spirit Lake and Mt Adams and Mt Hood...) and of the area below made more than up for that.

Encountered fewer than a dozen people on the way in, and more than we cared to count on the way back. The interpretive trail was packed with people, many of them wearing wristbands that were handed out after queuing and registering at the observatory.

Photos: http://picasaweb.google.com/eric.jain/HarrysRidgeJuly2011
Panorama: http://photosynth.net/view.[…]81f7-4b1a-82c5-ff8368620afb
Tracklog: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/96671252

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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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Note: the description and driving directions for this Mountaineers Books entry are copyrighted and can't be changed.

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