Hike Mount St. Helens' Lava Canyon

Rate this Adventure 1.5 miles  - Out-and-Back Trail

Added by Ted S

Does a massive waterfall, cutting through a volcanic canyon that's surrounded by geological history sound like a fun adventure? Located right below Mount St. Helens, Lava Canyon combines all of these features and more into one short hike (with far more advanced offshoots) that is really a sight you, and your camera, have to see for yourself!

Caution: There have been fatalities around the canyon. Stay on the trail and pay close attention to your footing if you descend below the initial viewpoint.

Head downhill from the parking lot, following the paved / accessible trail which is marked along the way. After descending down just a few switchbacks, you'll leave the forest cover and see the waterfall viewing area ahead. It's only a short walk in total at less than a mile each way.

This is the end of the easy hike though you'll certainly want to explore around. Cross partway onto the steel bridge for a direct view down to the upper falls above you and the lower falls below you. Continue across for different perspectives of the canyon / river and more of the diverse PNW landscape that surrounds it.

For more adventurous hikers, you can continue down the trail to either side of the river to reach the 125-foot suspension bridge a little further down. While the hike there is also fairly short, it is steep and you'll want to be extra careful as you go; the trail is less a path and more worn in footsteps with wet and loose rock to navigate over as you navigate just alongside the high walls of the canyon.

The suspension bridge is well worth stopping for and makes a great photography spot though be mindful of other hikers, crossing with more than one at a time takes coordination.

It is possible to continue down to the lower parts of the canyon, technically still on a trail though the conditions continue to become more challenging according to the hike guide, especially in wet or cold periods. The complete advanced trail is around 1,600' of vertical gain over 5 miles (r/t).

Vault restrooms can be found at the trailhead. No water is available however. Given the fairly remote location of the canyon and exposed hike, plan to bring enough gear for a partial day outing.

Read More

Tags

Chillin
Photography
Hiking
Bathrooms
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
River
Scenic
Waterfall

Reviews

Have you done this adventure? Be the first to leave a review!

Stay Nearby

Skamania County, Washington

Lower Falls Campground

Overview Lower Falls Campground is located in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. Visitors enjoy several waterfalls in the area and access to the Lewis River Trail. The campground is open from May...

Carson, Washington

Paradise Creek Campground

Overview Paradise Creek sits at the confluence of Paradise Creek and the Wind River, nestled under an old-growth forest of cedars, firs, alder and maples. The sites by the river enjoy privacy from...

Randle, Washington

Iron Creek Campground

Overview Iron Creek Campground sits near the confluence of Iron Creek and the Cispus River. This large campground winds through a forest of old-growth Douglas firs, cedars and hemlock. Lush vegetat...

Carson, Washington

Govt Mineral Springs Guard Sta

Overview Nestled in a grove of towering old-growth conifer trees, the Government Mineral Springs Guard Station is a delightful setting for guests seeking relaxation and recreation in the Gifford Pi...

Nearby Adventures

  • Hike the Lava Canyon

    Starting at the Lava Canyon Trailhead, you will walk on a paved trail down a few switchbacks until you reach the river, where you can go right or left. Either way takes you to the suspension bridge, but I recommend going right if you are following...

    6.5 miles

  • Hike to Ape Canyon

    Not to be confused with the ever so popular Ape Caves, the Ape Canyon is a moderately challenging hike that remains above ground, climbing a total of 1650 feet in elevation parallel to the Muddy River.  Although originally designed as a hiking tra...

    9.6 miles 1650 ft gain

  • Backpack around Mount Saint Helens via the Loowit trail

    This is a very difficult hike. Camp sites are scarce and access to water is very limited. Overexposure is a concern so be sure to pack a hat and apply sunscreen frequently. There are sketchy sections of the trail where you will be forced to naviga...

    31.7 miles 6000 ft gain

  • Summit Mount St. Helens via Worm Flows

    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...

    10.8 miles 5700 ft gain