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Johnston Ridge Boundary Trail

Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument

Southwest Washington/Mount St. Helens, Washington

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Johnston Ridge Boundary Trail

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  • View of Mount St. Helens (8,366').- Johnston Ridge Boundary Trail
  • View looking east at Mount Adams (12,280').- Johnston Ridge Boundary Trail
  • View into the Mount St. Helens caldera.- Johnston Ridge Boundary Trail
  • - Johnston Ridge Boundary Trail
  • Panoramic view of Mount St. Helens (8,366') and Coldwater Peak (5,727') on the left.- Johnston Ridge Boundary Trail
  • View of Mount St. Helens (8,366').- Johnston Ridge Boundary Trail
  • - Johnston Ridge Boundary Trail
  • Herd of elk (Cervus canadensis) in the distance.- Johnston Ridge Boundary Trail
  • Herd of elk (Cervus canadensis) in the distance.- Johnston Ridge Boundary Trail
  • Field lupine (Lupinus nanus).- Johnston Ridge Boundary Trail
  • Unidentified species (help us identify it by providing feedback).- Johnston Ridge Boundary Trail
  • - Johnston Ridge Boundary Trail
  • - Johnston Ridge Boundary Trail
  • View looking east at Mount Adams (12,280') and Spirit Lake.- Johnston Ridge Boundary Trail
  • View looking back west across Johnston Ridge.- Johnston Ridge Boundary Trail
  • Rock penstemon (Penstemon rupicola).- Johnston Ridge Boundary Trail
  • - Johnston Ridge Boundary Trail
  • View looking north at Coldwater Peak (5,727').- Johnston Ridge Boundary Trail
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Best views of Mount St. Helens.
Cons: 
Dusty trail. Heavy use in summer.
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Region:
Southwest Washington/Mount St. Helens, WA
Congestion: 
High
Pets allowed: 
No
Net Elevation Gain: 
400.00 ft (121.92 m)
Parking Pass: 
General Day Use Fee
Preferable Season(s):
Summer, Fall
Total Distance: 
4.60 mi (7.40 km)
Trail type: 
There-and-back
Trailhead Elevation: 
4,310.00 ft (1,313.69 m)
Current Local Weather:
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Hike Description

Hike Description

Team

The Johnston Ridge Observatory is the most common stop for visitors to Mount St. Helens National Monument.  Its popularity is understandable, since the visitor center is perched on a ridge overlooking the 1980 blast zone.  You'll see spectacular views of the steaming caldera as you enjoy the center's comprehensive narrative history of the volcano.

Luckily for hikers, it doesn't take much to get away from the tour buses and crowds.  This 4.6-mile, there-and-back trail is an easy route to a more tranquil experience.  The trail is the perfect place to contemplate the power and devastation that the May explosion exacted on both the mountain and the neighboring area.

From the ridge, peer down onto the tundra-like landscape below and you are likely to spot at least one heard of the roughly 12,000 Roosevelt elk that call the monument home.  The ground foliage you'll see has taken 30 years to take root in the highly alkaline soil.  The most common of these early adaptors include fireweed and field lupine.

For those looking to completely escape from the crowds, this trail can also take you to Coldwater Peak (12.2 miles total, 1,420-foot elevation gain) or down the arduous trail to Loowit Falls (17 miles total with no backpacking/overnight camping options).

Updates, Tips + Comments

Updates, Tips + Comments

Field Guide + Trail Map

Field Guide + Trail Map

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Location + Directions

Location + Directions

Nearby Camping + Lodging

(6 within a 30 mile radius)

Nearby Adventures

(38 within a 30 mile radius)

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