Lava Canon, Washington hiking
Location: South Side of Mt. St. Helens
Nearest City: Cougar, Washington
Length: 5.3 Miles
Elevation Gain: 1400 ft
Forest Pass Required?: Yes
A charming series of waterfalls that flow over ancient lava. This canyon was cleaned out of debris following the mud flows from the eruption of Mt. St. Helens in 1980.
As you follow the trail down, it begins with an easy paved hike to the first of three bridges. As you continue down you pass several waterfalls and interesting lava formations. You crossed a suspension bridge that is a little nerve wracking to cross, but it is completely safe. You continue down (its uphill all the way on the return trip), and when you reach a side trail to "The Ship" take it to the top where you get a grand view of several waterfalls back up the trail whence you came. After returning back to the main trail you can continue down toward the third bridge, which is a good point to turn around.
The views are very good on the way back up. There are a couple places where the trail is pretty steep and also close to the edge that you wouldn't want to fall down. This is a very fun hike, and it is also popular, so going during the weekdays would be preferred.
From Portland you should head north on I-5 to Exit 21 at Woodland. Turn right onto the exit and follow signs for Cougar, which is about 32 miles east of Woodland. Continue past Cougar about 7 miles and turn left on paved Road 83. Follow Rd. 83 for about 11 miles to the end where there is a paved parking lot and info area.
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