I had the good fortune and privilege to hike with guidebook author, Craig Romano on the weekend of Sept 8th 2012. Craig is the author of several of the Day Hiking series Mountaineers books. We hiked the Mt Whittier "trail" in the Mt Margaret Backcountry of Mt Saint Helens. We also hiked the Lakes trail and some of the Boundary trail as part of the loop, but Whittier was what we were there for. Peder who I know from the Portland Hikers forum had hiked the trail a few times and was gracious enough to invite us along and show us the way. The Mt Whittier trail is not much of a trail, more a route really. The forest service gives it a black diamond status which we soon discovered was very appropriate. To be honest, I'm not really sure why the forest service advertises this as a trail at all as I found it to be quite dangerous in a few places. Route-finding skills are a definite must on this one. Fortunately we had Peder as our guide and Craig mapped the entire thing for Green Trails Maps. Future versions of the map for this area should include the new data. The trail depicted on the current map is incorrect as there has been a reroute due to a washout.
Scroll across for Panorama. This is from the shoulder of Whittier looking NE. Rainier in the distance.
The Mt Whittier trail (No. 214) is located in the Mt Margaret Backcountry of the Mt Saint Helens National Monument. At 5883 feet, Mt Whittier is second in height in the Monument only to Saint Helens itself. You can access the Mt Whittier Trail from either the Lakes Trail (No. 211) or the Boundary trail (No. 1). The Norway Pass trailhead on Forest Road 26 is the closest access point to Whittier but a longer approach can be done from the Coldwater Lake side of the Lakes Trail off of Hwy 504. There are often large snow patches on steep terrain until well into late summer that require extreme caution to traverse making the trail even more potentially dangerous.