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June Lake Snowshoe

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The June Lake Trail is a beautiful hike any time of year, but exploring the trail on snowshoes, with the deep old forest, wide lake basin, and crashing waterfall all swaddled in a blanket of white, is the only way to enjoy the truly wild nature of the area. The trail is a gentle path through the woods, and snowshoers of all ages and abilities will appreciate and enjoy the remarkable beauty of the route.

Located on the south side of the big volcano, this trail doesn't delve into the blast zone, nor does the scenery make snowshoers think about the volcanic nature of the area. Indeed, if the eruption of 1980 comes to mind, it's usually in the context of "I can't believe an area this beautiful survived such a big eruption." The Mount St. Helens summit is visible along the trail to the lake, but looking up at the south flank of the mountain, with its snowy mantle of winter, it looks like just another big, beautiful peak. And June Lake is such a remarkable setting that it doesn't need the powerful imagery of the eruption to make it a wonderful snowshoeing destination.

From the Sno-Park, snowshoe north from the upper parking lot on the well-signed Pine Marten Trail No. 245E. This trail, which is often groomed for skiers, parallels the road, but it is off-limits to snowmobiles. (You can also hike up the road to the June Lake trailhead, but it is often crowded with speeding snowmobiles.) The trail heads north for 0.75 mile, and then hooks right (east) and dips down to join the road at 1 mile. After using the road bridge to cross the wide Lake Creek, turn left and snowshoe into the large parking area of the well-marked June Lake trailhead.

The trail leaves the north end of the broad lot and crosses a large meadow in full view of Mount St. Helens. The open, treeless slopes are painted stark white by the drifting snow, and most weekends when the weather is clear, snowshoers on the June Lake Trail can watch snowshoers and skiers climbing the Monitor Ridge route (see Route 97) to the summit of the volcano.

The trail stays well above Lake Creek as it climbs gradually through a few stands of second-growth forest and open clearcuts before finally crossing into the protected national monument at 2.4 miles. The last few hundred yards of trail dip steeply down to cross the creek on a wide bridge before rolling north to the shore of June Lake. Across the lake, on the right, is a waterfall cascading down through a curtain of interlaced icicles. The wide bench at the lakeshore makes a wonderful picnic spot with its spectacular views.

Author’s Rating: More Difficult
Some previous snowshoe experience helpful. Some winter survival skills recommended (basic knowledge of avalanche evaluation, emergency shelter construction, etc.). Elevation gain is usually less than 1000 feet with a gradual slope.
Driving Directions:

To get there, from Woodland drive east on State Route 503 to the community of Cougar and continue east another 7 miles to a junction with Forest Road 83. Turn left (north) onto FR 83, and drive 5.8 miles to the Marble Mountain Sno-Park at the end of the plowed road. Small maps of the local winter trails are generally available in the kiosk inside the warming hut at the Sno-Park.

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Recent Trip Reports

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There are 9 trip reports for this hike. See all trip reports for this hike.
June Lake Snowshoe — Mar 17, 2013 — djsurge
Snowshoe/XC Ski
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Great day of snowshoeing. There was a few inches of fresh snow and we had fresh tracks for part of t...
Great day of snowshoeing. There was a few inches of fresh snow and we had fresh tracks for part of the trail. The trails are very well marked and even where we had fresh tracks there was some indentation from previous snowshoers. It took us just under 2 hours to get to June Lake and around an hour to get back. The pace wasn't very fast.
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June Lake Snowshoe — Jan 15, 2013 — marmotwhistler
Snowshoe/XC Ski
Issues: Snow on trail
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June lake was a rare treat today. Back in the city, the fog was cold and was lasting for days on en...
June lake was a rare treat today. Back in the city, the fog was cold and was lasting for days on end. As we drove up for the snowshoe hike we broke out above the fog and into the sunshine!

In the winter, use the Marble Mountain snow park to begin. Be sure to have a Snow Park permit. The trail begins up the snowed in Forest Road 83 which is shared with snowmobile riders. All of them were polite and slowed down as they passed us. After 1/2 mile, the snowshoe trail begins on the left and the quiet of the snowy forest envelops you.

Along the way up to June Lake, there are several spectacular viewpoints of Mt. St. Helens. The lake itself is rather small and today was 1/2 covered with ice. The large waterfall that feeds the lake was beautiful with icicles around it.

This hike is a photographer's dream!

You can continue on up and over a huge lava boulder field to make a loop. With over 6 feet of snow, it was easy to snowshoe across them. I can see why it would be difficult to do so with a low snowpack! From the boulder field, the views of the mountain are terrific!. The snowshoe packed trail continues on to the west where it re-enters the timber and joins up with Trail #244 at a T intersection. Keep watching for the blue plastic diamond trail markers as you go. Go left to return to the snow park, the trail is wide and easy snowshoeing.

I recommend this snowshoe hike to take your beginner friends on a nice day. They may get hooked on the fun and beauty of snowshoeing!

Note: The trailhead map does not seem to work. 46.13113, -122.17014
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June Lake Snowshoe — Jan 15, 2012 — allaboutalpines
Day hike
Issues: Snow on trail
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Headed out to try and find June Lake. Because my two older sons felt like sleeping in, we did not le...
Headed out to try and find June Lake. Because my two older sons felt like sleeping in, we did not leave Vancouver until 10:30am so we did not get up there until about 12pm. There were quite a few people up there skiing and shoeing as well as snow mobiles all leaving from the Marble Mtn. Sno Park. There are a lot of little trails throughtout this area as you begin. We took 244A up to the Quarry and then headed left onto trail 244 which takes you in a northern direction toward Mt. St. Helens. Staying to the right on 244 and avoiding 244C which is apparently a little easier but did not have any tracks so we stuck to the main, we headed up to 244D, which we passed originally. We made it all the the way down to the lava field and had lunch, then decided to head back as walking on giant lava boulders in snowshoes is not my idea of fun. The snow was about 6-8 inches and I assume it is much deeper now but this appears to be a well used trail and I would bet that there are constantly tracks here to follow. I would recommend this hike to newbies and experts alike as the scenery is fantastic. Next time, we will be making June Lake but probably heading over past the quarry on 244A to 245 and then heading north after reaching the June Lake Trailhead. I will probably head back up there in the next few weeks.
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June Lake, Swift Creek (#244), Pine Marten (#245), Pika (#244D) — Jan 31, 2009 — Sunrise Creek
Snowshoe/XC Ski
Issues: Washouts | Snow on trail
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A partly sunny day gave us views of Mount St. Helens as we snowshoed the loop from the Marble Mounta...
A partly sunny day gave us views of Mount St. Helens as we snowshoed the loop from the Marble Mountain SnoPark up to June Lake, across the lava flow on the Pika Trail, and down the Swift Trail. This was a Trails Club of Oregon trip. We found flood damage to the Pine Marten Trail that added the challenge of negotiating some 5 foot drops and then climbing out the other side. We paused by June Lake to admire the waterfall; the lake was ice free and a pair of dippers were flying back and forth. Lunching on top of the lava flow, we aimed for warm sun and volcano views and were partially successful. On the return, we took a side trip on the Fir Trail (#244B) to admire the huge Douglas-firs and western red-cedars, making a nice change from the tree plantations traversed by most of the route. The trip is about 5 miles and 900 feet elevation gain. We finished the day with a stop at the Cougar Bar & Grill for pie and coffee on the way home to Vancouver and Portland.

WARNING: WashDOT has reduced snowplowing frequency on Road 83 so it is best to drive a high clearance vehicle with 4WD or AWD to ensure reaching the Marble Mountain SnoPark.
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June Lake Snowshoe — Jan 19, 2009 — kjs
Day hike
Issues: Snow on trail
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Went for a nice 5 mile snowshoe up to June Lake, just south of Mt St Helens. The road in (83) was...
  Went for a nice 5 mile snowshoe up to June Lake, just south of Mt St Helens. The road in (83) was plowed and entirely dry up to the Cougar sno-park. From there until Marble Mountain sn0-park there's a hard sheet of snow and ice covering much of the road. Be careful, as we passed a jeep that had gone off the road. Fortunately, there were no injuries.
  We started off from the single-vehicle parking area on Marble Mtn loop trail. We followed this until it hit the road, then followed the Pine Marten trail until it the road. We followed the road for short stretch and then turned left onto the June Lake trail, at the well marked trailhead. Some small hills on the way up to June Lake but nothing too strenous.
  The lake itself was beautiful. Only partly frozen over and the waterfall had a good stream going.
  All in all, a great little trip, especially for those in the Portland/Vancouver are looking for a non-Mt Hood snowshoe excursion.
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june lake.jpg
Location
June Lake (#216.1)
South Cascades -- Mt. St. Helens
Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument
Statistics
Roundtrip 5.0 miles
Elevation Gain 500 ft
Highest Point 3100 ft
Features
Lakes
Waterfalls
Old growth
Mountain views
User info
Good for kids
Sno-Park pass required
Guidebooks & Maps
Green Trails: Mount St. Helens Northwest No. 364S
Ski Trail Map: http://prdp2fs.ess.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/stelprdb5288545.pdf

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Red MarkerJune Lake Snowshoe
46.1352375 -122.1568904
(46.1352, -122.1569) Open in new window
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