Saint Helens Lake Loop from Hummocks Trailhead

This was a last-minute trip to one of my favorite areas in Washington to hike. Why is the Mt Saint Helens area one of my favorites? Wide open views. From the very start of just about any hike in this area, the views are wide open. Yes, it can be hot and dry in the summer. Almost desert like in a few places, but if you are prepared, you'll be in for a treat.

Saint Helens and the North Fork Toutle River in a moody light on the approach to the trailhead as seen from Hwy 504.

This winter has been a very warm one for western Washington. There has hardly been any snow in the mountains which has a lot of people worried about the prospects for the summer months when everything will be tinder dry. Usually this time of year you can't even get to many trailheads due to the snow, but this year is different so I figure I'll take advantage of it the best I can. When life gives you lemons, might as well make lemonade. Thanks to my friend Peder for sharing the details of this trip with me and for discovering it was accessible.

Click pictures below for larger views with captions. Once larger image opens, click it again to hide or show captions.


Hiking Logistics: This 16.5 mile loop hike starts from the Hummocks Trailhead on the Hummocks Trail #229 off of Hwy 504. The Hummocks Trail itself is also a loop, so to gain the Boundary Trail, you’ll want to take the trail on the left (eastern) side of the parking area.  After just short of a mile on the Hummocks Trail, you come to a junction with the Boundary Trail #1 and follow it up and over Johnson Ridge and past the Loowit Viewpoint and Johnson Observatory which is about 4.5 miles into the hike. After the observatory, it feels almost as if the trail is taking you way out of the way you want to go, but stick with it, it comes back around. You will go around a point and drop down a bit before coming to a junction with the Truman Trail #207 which heads off to the right (south) towards the volcano. Instead of going right, stay left at this junction which is still the Boundary Trail #1, and once again start climbing uphill as you make your way across the spillover and through some more hummocks. Look around. Try to imagine the mountain as it collapsed during the eruption, slamming into this area. This is a truly remarkable place. Climbing again, you’ll pass these hummocks, before coming to another junction, this time with the Harry's Ridge spur trail #1E. Passing this junction, you'll keep going along the Boundary Trail on a final elevation push to gain the ridge. Once you gain the ridge, you will see Saint Helens Lake shortly before crossing through a stone arch on the trail. I consider this to be about the halfway point of the loop as most of the elevation gain for the day is now over. As you hike by Saint Helens Lake, you will see Coldwater Peak directly in front of you. You'll soon come to another junction at a saddle where you’ll finally leave the Boundary Trail as you take a left onto the Coldwater Trail #230. As you follow the Coldwater Trail, it skirts around Coldwater Peak and starts to lose the precious elevation you have worked so hard for all day. Shortly, in a little over 2 miles you'll arrive at a junction with the South Coldwater Trail #230A which follows this ridge all the way back down to highway 504. Along the way down, make sure you pause to check out the D8 bulldozer and logging equipment that was hit in the eruption. Thankfully no one was working when the mountain blew. Follow the ridge down, with views of Coldwater Lake on your right before reaching highway 504 on the South Coldwater Trailhead, When you reach the trailhead, there is a short one mile road walk back to the Hummocks Trailhead to the west.

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2 thoughts on “Saint Helens Lake Loop from Hummocks Trailhead

  • February 26, 2015 at 9:10 am

    You must have legs of steel! Absolutely beautiful images from this stunning loop!

    • February 26, 2015 at 9:33 am

      Thanks Sue. Legs of steel I don’t know about, but it was a gorgeous day, that’s for sure!


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