What was once a nice, short loop hike for families on the east side of Mount St. Helens National Volcanic monument has been lost to downed trees and heavy brush. Thankfully, the lake is still visible from an overlook partway up.
Like so much of the rest of the landscape, this area was devastated by the 1980 blast. Three campers staying here lost their lives. But while much of the area around Ryan Lake was opened to salvage logging afterwards, Ryan Lake was allowed to remain in its natural, post-blast state to recover.
A short trail used to climb the hill to the south of the lake, offering views of the lake and a nice leg-stretching loop for families visiting the monument. But the Forest Service no longer performs maintenance here, and the bathrooms are sporting a sign that says “Permanently Closed”.
For now, visitors can content themselves with a peek at the interpretive signs at the parking area, and the intrepid can head uphill on the 0.3 miles that haven’t yet been reclaimed by nature. There’s still a nice little overlook of the lake, which offers a better vantage point than that from the parking area. But for the most part, this trail has been restored to a fully natural state.
WTA Pro Tip: Meta Lake, just down the road, offers a similar hiking experience (roughly the same length of trail to a lake). If you’re still jonesing for some a short hike, try that.