The Volcano View Trail completes a trifecta of great hikes for children near Mount St. Helens. The nearby Ape Cave and the Trail of Two Forests both provide welcome respite from the typically hot and dry hikes around St. Helens. The Ape Caves weave underground through old lava tubes, while the Trail of Two Forests shows the volcano's power, contrasting old-growth forest with the devastated landscape that didn't escape the 1980 explosion. Now the new Volcano View Trail offers hikers of every age a mile-long nature trail that curves around stumps, boulders and hemlocks.
A thick green canopy of trees high above the trail shades hikers, keeping it considerably cooler on the hike, even when tempuratures soar in midsummer. The trail follows an old logging road, though it may be hard to tell. Trees have grown up over many sections of trail, and WTA volunteers worked hard to create a more natural experience for hikers as they built the trail over several years.
From the trailhead, follow a gentle uphill grade to a flat section near some old-growth nurse logs. Kids will marvel at the western hemlock saplings that spring from the ancient stumps. This twist in the trail was intentional. WTA and land managers who laid out the trail wanted to show hikers a glimpse of the future; the saplings of today could be the magnificent trees of tomorrow.
Past the nurse stumps, the trail traverses a hillside and passes over some mossy boulders. There's an open area here that can be used for picnicking, snacking, or simply a rest before continuing just a few minutes further to the south view of the volcano.
Don't be surprised by the small parking lot nearby. WTA volunteers completed a wheel-chair friendly trail from the upper parking area to the viewpoint in 2014, and the parking lot is currently available for those who don't have the time for a mile-long walk in the woods.
Hiking Volcano View Trail
Volcano View Trail
Map & Directions
Co-ordinates: 46.1035, -122.2160 Open in Google Maps