Whittier Ridge Trail from Norway Pass

Mount St. Helens National Monument

Southwest Washington/Mount St. Helens, Washington

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Whittier Ridge Trail from Norway Pass

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  • The saddle at Norway Pass provides an excellent view of Mount St. Helens (8,366 ft) after only 2.25 miles on trail.- Whittier Ridge Trail from Norway Pass
  • Fall foliage along the Whittier Ridge Trail.- Whittier Ridge Trail from Norway Pass
  • The trail cuts across fields of colorful flowers and grasses above Norway Pass.- Whittier Ridge Trail from Norway Pass
  • Starting along the trail to Whittier Ridge, rock formations line the southern edge of the Coldwater Creek basin.- Whittier Ridge Trail from Norway Pass
  • A view of the ridgeline of Whittier Peak as seen from the Mount Margaret Trail.- Whittier Ridge Trail from Norway Pass
  • Stunning fall colors from the northeastern edge of Coldwater Creek basin.- Whittier Ridge Trail from Norway Pass
  • Looking down the steep western slope toward Goldwater Creek from the start of the Whittier Ridge Trail.- Whittier Ridge Trail from Norway Pass
  • Stopping to admire the view at the start of the Whittier Ridge Trail.- Whittier Ridge Trail from Norway Pass
  • Painted trail designation along the more narrow and rocky ledges at the south section of the ridge trail.- Whittier Ridge Trail from Norway Pass
  • Looking back south along the ridge, Mount Margaret (5,858 ft) to the far right.- Whittier Ridge Trail from Norway Pass
  • Mount Adams in the background, as the narrow and rocky trails winds over the ridge.- Whittier Ridge Trail from Norway Pass
  • A rocky outcropping stands in the foreground of the Goldwater Creek basin.- Whittier Ridge Trail from Norway Pass
  • The narrow trail provides plenty of solid rock to help with the vertigo.- Whittier Ridge Trail from Norway Pass
  • Perhaps the most treacherous section of the ridge trail winds down and across a narrow section of saddle, which is sure to catch the breath of visitors.- Whittier Ridge Trail from Norway Pass
  • Boot Lake catches the last few rays of sun as the shadow of Whittier Peak's ridge sweeps over the valley.- Whittier Ridge Trail from Norway Pass
  • - Whittier Ridge Trail from Norway Pass
  • Stunning vantage points and vistas await visitors all along the ridge trail.- Whittier Ridge Trail from Norway Pass
  • Lush greens and vibrant reds and yellows make for a picturesque autumn palette of colors.- Whittier Ridge Trail from Norway Pass
  • Many tree trunks, stripped bare and bleached by the sun, offer reminders of the destruction following the eruption of Mount St. Helens.- Whittier Ridge Trail from Norway Pass
  • Mangled and bleached trees angled away from Mount St. Helens as the blast flowed over the ridge.- Whittier Ridge Trail from Norway Pass
  • From Norway Pass, the signage at the Whittier Ridge Junction provides fair warning to unseasoned hikers.- Whittier Ridge Trail from Norway Pass
  • - Whittier Ridge Trail from Norway Pass
  • Mountain goat friends looking over the trail.- Whittier Ridge Trail from Norway Pass
  • Elk graze in the colorful meadow (bottom right) with the calm waters of Spirit Lake in the distance.- Whittier Ridge Trail from Norway Pass
  • A hawk circles in its search of prey in front of a picturesque Mount Adams view.- Whittier Ridge Trail from Norway Pass
  • The dwindling rays of sunlight play across the open grassy meadows of the blast zone, picking up the vibrancy of the wildflowers.- Whittier Ridge Trail from Norway Pass
  • Flowers and grasses form the colorful foreground for one of the most beautiful sunset vistas in the Pacific Northwest. Mount St. Helens and Spirit Lake glow in the background.- Whittier Ridge Trail from Norway Pass
  • A hiker moves carefully along a narrow, exposed section of the Whittier Ridge Trail.- Whittier Ridge Trail from Norway Pass
  • Navigating the first of many narrow and exposed rock ledges.- Whittier Ridge Trail from Norway Pass
  • A hiker descending a narrow section of trail into the 'gateway' section of the trail. Boot Lake is visible to the lower left, and Goat Rocks in the distance.- Whittier Ridge Trail from Norway Pass
  • Picturesque views of the valley below are framed by the sheer rock walls.- Whittier Ridge Trail from Norway Pass
  • A steep descending section of trail requires proper footwork.- Whittier Ridge Trail from Norway Pass
  • This is the second of two trail indication markers along the ridge. Although the trail appears to disappear, this is in fact the safest route of travel.- Whittier Ridge Trail from Norway Pass
  • A snapshot of the ridge from approximately thee-quarters of the way across (travelling north). Mount Margaret to the right.- Whittier Ridge Trail from Norway Pass
  • A view of the talus field spur trail junction, as approached from the Lakes Trail #221.- Whittier Ridge Trail from Norway Pass
  • A view of the talus field spur trail junction as approached from the Whittier Ridge Trail. Be careful to note this location and turn right (northeast) to access the Lake Trail.- Whittier Ridge Trail from Norway Pass
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Incredible scenery, wildlife, no crowds.
Cons: 
Very difficult, exposure to falls, not maintained.
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Region:
Southwest Washington/Mount St. Helens, WA
Congestion: 
Low
Preferable Season(s):
Summer, Fall
Day-Use/Parking Pass Required:
NW Forest Pass
Total Distance: 
16.20 mi (26.07 km)
Trailhead Elev.: 
3,740 ft (1,140 m)
Net Elev. Gain: 
2,060 ft (628 m)
Trail Uses:
Hiking
Trail type: 
There-and-back/Loop
Dogs allowed: 
No
Current Local Weather:
Powered by Dark Sky

Today

Clear throughout the day.
75°F
48°

Sat

Clear throughout the day.
83°F
56°

Sun

Dry throughout the day and partly cloudy starting in the evening.
86°F
63°

Mon

Clear throughout the day.
73°F
55°

Tue

Mostly cloudy until afternoon.
62°F
48°

Wed

Mostly cloudy until afternoon.
63°F
43°

Thu

Mostly cloudy until evening.
71°F
45°
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Hike Description

Hike Description

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The Mount Margaret backcountry offers some unique opportunities to view a young Northwest forest in a stage of regrowth. This area was devastated by the pyroclastic blast when Mount St. Helens erupted in May, 1980; the destructive cloud leveled all trees and foliage in the area and dramatically changed the landscape. The Whittier Ridge Trail follows a sharp ridge within this destruction zone and offers outstanding views of the area, but it is much more challenging than the neighboring Mount Margaret summit.

Whittier Ridge is a 2-mile section of unmaintained ridge trail that spans between Mount Margaret and the Mount Margaret Backcountry Lakes. A loop can be created using Whittier Ridge as the connector, though the loop is a strenuous 14.2 miles with over 2,000 feet of elevation gain. Due to the close proximity to the Mount Margaret summit, it is convenient to combine the two in a single trip. The entire trip can be completed in a long day trip or with an overnight stay at some of the backcountry lake camp sites. These permits must be reserved in advance.

From the Mount Margaret via Norway Pass Trail, follow signage to the right that indicates the start of Whittier Ridge Trail. The signage here indicates the "Most Difficult" trail rating, which convinces most hikers to turn back. This alert is to be respected, but with careful navigation and sure-footedness this trail will reward visitors with some of the best views in the region.

Due to the remote access, wildlife is abundant in the area. Deer and elk can be seen in the surrounding meadows, and mountain goats are visible on the ridge. Be careful not to surprise wildlife that may be on trail.

The trail itself follows the spine of the ridge. When trail conditions prove difficult to follow, the answer is often to look up. Although no rated climbing is required, some small scrambling and traversing across narrow ledges is required.

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