Survey Mount St.Helens’ recovering Blast Zone and get 360-degree, four-peak views from this high perch along the Boundary Trail.
Allow plenty of time, carry an ample supply of water (except for occasional snowmelt, it’s a dry trail), and expect to return with a dusty coating of ash on your clothing and gear. Goofy sun hats and umbrellas are encouraged to ward off the sun.
Starting at the Johnston Ridge Observatory, head east on the Boundary Trail, where you’ll hug the wall on the way to Devil’s Elbow. Stay left at the junction with the Truman Trail and cross the pumice plains to the junction with Harry’s Ridge Trail, where a short but steep side trip to the base of the ridge rewards you with killer views of massive Spirit Lake. Back at the Boundary Trail, continue onward and upward to St.Helens Lake and “Hole-in-the-Wall” for the only reliable shade of the day.
After 5.5 long miles, you’ll reach the Coldwater Peak Trail. Pause to frame a panoramic shot of St.Helens Lake in the foreground, Spirit Lake in the mid-range, and Mount St.Helens in the background. For the final push, expect snow patches year-round and bring some patience for the switchbacks. At the top, leave the seismic measuring equipment alone, and admire your accomplishment! The mountain looms large here, as do views across the southern Cascades.
To turn this hike into a semi-loop option, bring a shuttle vehicle and park it at the South Coldwater Trailhead. After bagging the summit, continue west on the Coldwater Trail, ambling along the ridgetop among wildflowers and an assortment of eruption wreckage before descending to your second vehicle.
WTA Pro Tip: From the Boundary Trail, take in views of Mount St. Helens, Spirit Lake,
Coldwater Lake, the Goat Rocks and Mounts Rainier, Adams, and Hood.
- 12.0 miles, roundtrip
- Elevation Gain
- 3068 feet
- Highest Point
- 5727 feet