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Trail of Two Forests

South Cascades > Mount St. Helens
46.0993, -122.2136 Map & Directions
Length
0.5 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain
50 feet
Highest Point
1885 feet
Calculated Difficulty About Calculated Difficulty
Easy
  • Mountain views
  • Old growth
  • Good for kids
  • Dogs not allowed

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

Northwest Forest Pass

This trail loops through two forests that stand side by side, but are separated in age by 2000 years. One forest is old-growth Douglas-fir and western red-cedar and the other is a young forest that was originally engulfed by lava flows from an eruption of Mount St. Helens over two millennia ago. Continue reading

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Hiking Trail of Two Forests

This trail loops through two forests that stand side by side, but are separated in age by 2000 years. One forest is old-growth Douglas-fir and western red-cedar and the other is a young forest that was originally engulfed by lava flows from an eruption of Mount St. Helens over two millennia ago.

The other forest, known formerly as the Lava Cast Forest, encompasses three-dimensional imprints of trees in the old lava beds called lava casts. The boardwalk trail loops through the two forests, and is kid- and wheelchair-friendly.

During eruptive activity some 1900 years ago, fluid lava flowed through a stand of trees, burning them but leaving impressions where they stood or lay. This lava was quite different from the sticky type of lava that forms the dome in the crater of St. Helens today.

When you visit the Trail of Two Forests, please stay on the trail -- the mosses and surrounding features of the forest are fragile.

WTA Pro Tip: One attraction along the boardwalk is a ladder descending eight feet into a lava-cast tree mold. Hikers can crawl through the tree mold, an activity especially popular with youngsters. Flashlights and old, warm clothes are good preparation for the fun.

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

Trail of Two Forests

Map & Directions

Trailhead
Co-ordinates: 46.0993, -122.2136 Open in Google Maps

Before You Go

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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

Drive east from I-5 on Highway 503 as it changes to Forest Road 90. Pass the town of Cougar, and just 1 mile beyond the Swift Dam (about 35 miles from your turn off I-5), make a left onto FR 83. Proceed two miles and turn left onto FR 8303. The trailhead is on the left, a half mile away.

More Hike Details

Trailhead

South Cascades > Mount St. Helens

Trail of Two Forests (#233)

Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument

Guidebooks & Maps

Day Hiking: South Cascades (Nelson -- Mountaineers Books)

Green Trails No. 364 Mount St. Helens

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Trail of Two Forests

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