Smith Creek Butte

This was a hike I took with guidebook author Craig Romano as he continues to research the Mt Saint Helens area for an upcoming book. This time we hiked the Smith Creek Butte trail on the east side of the mountain. There is not much info about Smith Creek Butte available on the internet, or elsewhere for that matter. Craig had heard through a reliable source that the trail still existed, but specifics were hard to come by so this would be somewhat of an exporatory mission.

I'll let the pictures speak for themselves. For specific trail information and driving directions... well, you'll just have to wait for Craig's book for that.

Click here to read Craig's blog post about this hike

Signage at the Smith Creek trailhead. Note: the Smith Creek trailhead is different than the Smith Creek Butte trailhead.
Interestingly enough, this USFS map is fairly accurate.
Looking for a place to cross
Hardest working guide book author I know - in action!
Waterfall streaming off the cliffside. This is near the Muddy river ford.
MSH and Muddy River
Abandoned logging road. We followed this a ways before picking up the trail.
The trail is pretty obvious to spot from the logging road but could still use some signage.
Higher up, the trail comes out to another road that must be followed for a while. There were several of these deer, or more likely, elk rubs on either side of this spot on the road.
Another deer, or possibly an elk rub.
The best view we had all day was from just past the Smith Creek Butte summit. From the summit, the trail drops slightly to an abandoned quarry. We had our lunch here before turning around and heading back.
Mt Adams just visible to the southeast from our turn around point near the summit
Limited views from near the top of Smith Creek Butte.
Summit pose. Mount Saint Helens with Windy Ridge directly behind us.
As nice of a day as it was, we were slightly frustrated with the limited views. This was a little outcropping just off the trail near the summit.
Ape Canyon in the distance with Mt Saint Helens looming above.
The upper half of the trail is broken and bisected by roads of former logging operations. We were fortunate enough to find the other end of a portion of trail we had missed on the way up (we just took a road up) and followed it on the way out. The trail tread itself was in good enough shape but could use some TLC by way of clearing a few wind falls and what looked to be about a decade's worth of branches. Some signage would be nice as well. We found this old skull of what I guessed to be from an elk along this part of the trail.
It was a beautiful fall day at Smith Creek Butte. The old road walking was particularly nice.
Obviously, judging by the size of the river bed, the Muddy is best to be forded after a nice long dry spell.
Mr Romano happy to have another trail documented!
Geodimeter station (EDM) set up at Smith Creek Butte, east side of Mount St. Helens. USGS Photograph taken on April 25, 1980, by Peter Lipman. Image courtesy USGS and

We found the summit pictured above but it was very overgrown. I found the weird wooden boxy looking thing at the right-center of the image, just to the right of the tripod. There were also some foundation blocks (also pictured just to the right of tripod and under boxy thing) that we assumed were from a long gone lookout. If you find your interest in this peak is piqued (see what I did there?) and decide to find this trail on your own, exercise extreme caution when fording the Muddy River. It can be quite swift. We crossed it in a very dry October and it still came to just above my knees.

Click here to learn more about Craig Romano and some of the books he has written.

Sorry, no GPS map on this posting. For logistical information, you'll need to contact the forest service or wait for Mr Romano's book which will hopefully be out soon.

Click here to view other hikes I’ve done with Craig.

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