I once again had the pleasure of hiking a somewhat obscure route in the Mt Saint Helens area with guidebook author, Craig Romano. Craig is in the process of hiking all the trails in the Mount Saint Helens National Volcanic Monument as research for a new book he is writing. I am honored to accompany him on some of these hikes as he finishes up his research in an area that is near and dear to my heart.
The Cinnamon Trail (trail #204) lies SW of Mt Saint Helens and runs along a ridge (we'll just call it Cinnamon Ridge) that parallels the Kalama River for a spell. We picked up the trail from near the Kalama Horse Camp just off of the Toutle Trail (#238) and followed it east, to its end at Red Rock Pass and another junction with the Toutle Trail. The ridge is the dividing line for the monument boundary. The trail stays near the 3700 foot level as it follows this invisible border, topping out around the 4000 foot level in one spot. Once we got to Red Rock Pass, we turned to the west and followed the Toutle Trail back to where we left my car at the Blue Horse Trailhead (#237). Returning to the starting point of the hike as a longer loop was an option, but we decided that due to the short amount of daylight, and our uncertainty of snow conditions on the ridgeline, that the shorter loop would be the better way to go.
I was surprised to find that there is a lot of old growth timber in this area. Some very large trees. On the ridge, there were great views to the north of Saint Helens, and Goat Mountain. To the east, Mt Adams made its presence known and views to the south towards Oregon revealed a hazy and distant view of Mount Hood. Down in the river valley, McBride Lake was a bonus to the day. More of a meadow nowadays than a lake. You can almost envision an elk herd lounging about here as the Kalama babbles it's watery tune nearby. Along the final couple miles back to the car, we crossed several springs that were flowing out of the hillside with heavily icicle laden vegetation nearby.
For being an unknown (to me), the Cinnamon Trail (dare I call it the Cinnamon Loop?) turned out to be a nice little fall hike. Cinnamon is not exactly a pristine wilderness experience however. It does cross old logging roads a few times near the top and is open to horseback riders as well as mountain bikers. If you're like me though and like to be outdoors and enjoy nice views, I think you'll like it. Especially on a fall day when you are likely to have it all to yourself.
Roll mouse over image to see route taken. No mouse? See GPS map at the end of this post.
Maps are for informational and entertainment purposes only. Use at your own risk!
How did the Cinnamon Trail get its name? I asked Craig the same thing. As a guidebook author, he has lots of experience tracking this kind of stuff down but he was unsure about Cinnamon. Sometimes these things can be hard to discover as it might have simply been called this by loggers whose stories are long gone. If you know how Cinnamon got its name, leave a comment below. I'd love to hear about it and I'm sure Craig would as well.