There are actually hiking trails on both sides of this newly created natural reservoir called Coldwater Lake, and both are excellent starting points and trails to access the limited, but very worthy, backpacking areas in Mount St. Helens National Monument*. This trip report, however, focuses on the rather long but level 10.4-mile, there-and-back day hike on the lake's northern shore. In fact, when visiting the National Monument, the trip along the lake's northern shore, paired with the short Hummocks Loop across Washington Highway 504, make a great introduction to the area. Hummocks, or ash and silt deposits, are what dammed Coldwater Creek and created the lake that exists today.
From the beginning, visitors along the trail will be rewarded by views of Mount St. Helens, and as you approach the northwestern end of the lake, the towering features of Minnie Peak (5,610 feet) and Coldwater Peak (5,740 feet) take center stage. Hike the trail in late July or early August to see abundant wildflowers such as the boldly yellow bird's-foot trefoil, various white asters, fireweed and numerous varieties of field lupines, all of which characterize this trail.
* To preserve and study the natural re-inhabitation of Mount St. Helens' 1980 blast zone, there are very limited areas on the volcano's north side where backcountry camping is allowed. Most of this area is on the north side of Coldwater Peak. View our map for specifics regarding this designated overnight area.