At 8.6 miles one-way, the Cinnamon Trail forms the southwest boundary of the Mount St. Helens Volcano Monument. Though the elevation gain and high point may sound a bit steep, the trail rewards the trekker with five mountains to view, a riparian forest, the Kalama River, abundant bird life, elk, and old-growth stands. The trail is maintained from time to time by Back Country Horsemen and WTA with input from the Forest Service and the Mount St Helens Institute (MSHI).
The trail originates at the Kalama Horse Camp just outside the west boundary of the monument. Five trails radiate from the camp with the Toutle Trail being the main stem.
Follow the Toutle Trail from the parking lot and trailhead. It initially descends into a gully, then after crossing a small footbridge, the Cinnamon Trail splits off to the right. Taking this trail, cross a larger stock bridge (with guard rails) over the Kalama River.
From here the trail rises gradually on pumice soil interspersed with firm tread. The trail follows the Kalama River upstream for 1.6 miles then with a switchback it ascends to the ridge. Along the way, large-sized trees create a cool forest canopy: hemlock, western redcedar, silver fir, and Douglas-Fir. From the, ridge the view north is Mount St. Helens with Butte Camp Dome near the tree line.
The highest point is 4,000 feet and is reached at mile four. This is an open area with a Forest Road ahead, but the trail goes right (south) back into the forest and off the road. To avoid confusion about the road, know that the trail crosses the road three times.
On the trail you descend for a while then up again reaching the north side at 4.9 miles. Here the view is of Mount St. Helens, Goat Mountain, seasonal McBride Lake and Mount Adams. You are now on the thin part of the ridge. As it descends, you're heading east to round a knob, then up again reaching another elevation of 3650 feet.
At mile eight, the ridge trail ends but viewpoints include Mount St. Helens and Mount Adams. The descent is a series of switchbacks in an old-growth forest and ends at Red Rock Pass with the Toutle Trail coming in about 100 yards from the end.
With the trail being in a Monument and protected from deforestation, the woodland varies widely from riparian to stands of old growth trees to alpine ecology. Because this is not a widely used trail, the tread is faint in places and occasional switchbacks and eroded sections occur.
Know that in general, you are heading east, parallel with the river, on a ridge, and ultimately towards Red Rock Pass on FR 81.
At the trail-end a car shuttle can be arranged. A return hike on the Toutle Trail can start here at Red Rock Pass (3100 feet). The Toutle Trail follows the Kalama River downstream and returns to Kalama Horse Camp (4.6 mi). Taking the Toutle Trail option will complete a 13.2-mile loop.