Summit Mount St. Helens via Worm Flows

Marble Mountain Sno Park, Cougar, Washington, United States

  • Activities:

    Snowboarding, Camping, Photography, Skiing, Snowshoeing, Backpacking, Hiking, Rock Climbing

  • Skill Level:

    Intermediate

  • Season:

    Spring, Winter

  • Trail Type:

    Out-and-Back

  • RT Distance:

    10.8 Miles

  • Elevation Gain:

    5700 Feet

Forest
Scenic

Take in incredible views of Rainier, Hood, and Adams from this 8,364 foot summit. There is no technical climbing on entire route.

The Worm Flow Route, starting at Marble Mountain Sno Park, is the most direct winter route up to the summit. You'll start at around 2,700 feet and begin a steady walk along the trail for 2 miles. Although the trail is fairly well marked well above the snow, you'll want to pay attention to the arrows (especially if departing in early dawn).

Once you've cleared the forest, the trail is a bit more difficult to follow. The landscape is now a mixture of rock and lava flow, but there will be wooden posts and cairns along the way. After another mile or so, the grade will begin to pick up as you walk along a rocky spine until you're surrounded by snow. Proper footing can get a bit tricky, so be careful as you navigate through this mixture of rock, snow, and mud.

From here on out, the trail is well marked by plenty of previous hikers making their way up the summit. There's a few steep sections, so take your time on the way up. It seems like a never ending climb at times, but keep pushing until you reach the first views of the crater. Once you've reached the false summit, head west a short distance to the true summit and enjoy the awesome views from up there. Be careful not to get too close to the edge once you're up since the snowpack may be unstable along the cornices.

As you make your way down, it may be a good idea for crampons and an ice ax. When the slopes get steep, I highly recommend glissading (as long as you're in control). Continue following your trail back down the mountain until you reach the carpark a few hours later.

Pack List

  • Waterproof boots
  • Gators
  • Crampons
  • Ice Ax
  • Trekking Poles
  • Sunglasses
  • Camera
  • Headlamp
  • Skis + Boots (Optional)
  • Warm layers for summit + breaks
  • Plenty of water + snacks
  • Change of clothes in the car
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Mount St. Helens may not be the biggest peak or the most exciting climbing but between the crater rim and the view out to Rainier & Adams, the summit is by far one of my favorites. Similarly, the winter ascent is definitely a long slog but snow beats ash and calm beats crowds (free also beats paying for a permit if you climb before 4/1!). Totally recommend it.

almost 2 years ago
almost 2 years ago

Did this in June and was still able to glissade down!

almost 3 years ago
almost 3 years ago

Beautiful hike, especially in the winter. And adds to the fun when you slide/board/ski down after summiting.

almost 3 years ago
almost 3 years ago

Are we missing something? Suggest an edit

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