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Kraus Ridge

South Cascades > Mount St. Helens
46.4649, -121.8974 Map & Directions
Length
6.2 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain
1570 feet
Highest Point
2370 feet
Calculated Difficulty About Calculated Difficulty
Moderate

Trail closed from 11/27 - 12/23/22.

Rutted trail on Kraus Ridge. Photo by Rod Hooker. Full-size image

Krause Ridge Trail offers a textbook example of a Pacific Northwest forest nearing succession climax. Whether you are a jaded forest trekker or an ecologist, this is a classical forest with big trees towering as a sunshade with a lush understory and an easy day hike. Continue reading

  • Ridges/passes
  • Wildlife
  • Old growth
  • Good for kids
  • Dogs not allowed
  • Fall foliage

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

Northwest Forest Pass
Rating
2.00 out of 5

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Hiking Kraus Ridge

Krause Ridge Trail offers a textbook example of a Pacific Northwest forest nearing succession climax. Whether you are a jaded forest trekker or an ecologist, this is a classical forest with big trees towering as a sunshade with a lush understory and an easy day hike.

In the theory of forest succession, pioneer plants take root in a new clearing, followed by fast-growing deciduous trees. Eventually, the faster-growing evergreens get the upper hand over the woodland of alder, willow, and maple. Finally, the conifers close the canopy and tower overall as the terminus species – an orderly process of change that takes more than a century.

If you count an abundance of ‘near old-growth’ trees on the east-bound hike, more will emerge seen deeper in the forest on the return. The trail is 6 miles, but you can stretch it to 8 miles if a spur is followed. The midpoint of the trail is a thin ridge overlooking the glaciated Cispus Valley. Unfortunately, the density of the trees on the steep north-facing slope precludes a good view below.  But, for the rambler looking for a good trek, this is an easy one with modest elevation gain.

The trail here weaves through a mature forest effect that is cool, dark, and inviting to visit in spring, summer, or fall. The tread consists of 6 inches of pumice and is deeply trenched in places from motorbikes plowing the center.

The porous soil leaves little standing water, mud, or erosion. Forest crews have been here over the years cutting sections out of blowdowns that create footpath gateways. Trail features are few; no rocks or exposed lava, overlooks, or streams.

This is a forest of big Douglas fir, Western Hemlock, and Western redcedar: many are 30-40 inches in diameter suggesting these granddaddies are >150 years old.  Large old-growth stumps attest that a once-great forest was logged – perhaps in the 1960s. Here and there you’ll see evidence of an old forest fire. Count on 4 hours from your car and return. 

Hike Description Written by
Multiple authors contributed to this report, WTA Community

Kraus Ridge

Map & Directions

Trailhead
Co-ordinates: 46.4649, -121.8974 Open in Google Maps

Before You Go

Trail closed from 11/27 - 12/23/22.

See weather forecast

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

Northwest Forest Pass

WTA Pro Tip: Save a copy of our directions before you leave! App-based driving directions aren't always accurate and data connections may be unreliable as you drive to the trailhead.

Getting There

Beginning on Forest Road 2306, this trail crosses Forest Road 2506 and ends on Forest Road 2506.037. The trail was named after William Kraus, a prospector and homesteader in the area before 1905. It is usually a good early season hike.

Special Conditions: Closed to motorized use from December 1 to April 1.

More Hike Details

Trailhead

South Cascades > Mount St. Helens

Kraus Ridge (#275)

Gifford Pinchot National Forest, Cowlitz Valley Ranger District

Guidebooks & Maps

Day Hiking: South Cascades (Nelson - Mountaineers Books)

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Kraus Ridge

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