Pets allowed
Elevation Gain
5,000.00 ft (1,524.00 m)
Trail type
10.00 mi (16.09 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

Mount St. Helens is an excellent introduction to Cascade mountaineering. After a long, strenuous climb, you are rewarded with stunning views of the Cascades. On clear days you can see Mount Rainer and Goat Rocks to the north; Mount Hood to the south, and Mount Adams to the east. In addition to these views, you have the opportunity to gaze down into the crater of an active volcano!

Mount St. Helens is snow covered most of the year, when proper equipment such as a fall arrest device and crampons are advised. Most of the snow has melted away by the late summer months, however, when it is possible to climb this route without the extra equipment. Note that the route is full of loose rock and volcanic soil that can make footing tricky, especially on the decent. 

The Worm Flows climbing route is the designated the winter route. This route is longer than the more popular Monitor Ridge Climbing Route summer route because it starts lower on the mountain, which means you'll have little to no crowds along the way. The route is well marked until past the tree line. Look for wooden poles on the lava rock ridges to guide you up to the USGS seismic station. From there, follow the ridge upward as you look for a worn trail, as there are no markers. The ridge will take you to the intersection of the Monitor Ridge Climbing route and up to the summit. Remember this intersection, as it will be important to find on your way down; if you are using a GPS, mark this intersection with a waypoint.

The round-trip climb can take 7 to 12 hours to complete. A fun alternative is to split the climb into two days and make a base camp below the tree line.

Climbing between April 1 and October 31 requires a climbing permit from the Mount St. Helens Institute, and permits must be purchased online in advance at Mount St. Helens Institute. Since weather can change quickly, it's advisable to bring a map, a compass, and/or a GPS.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass

Not Required


Excellent introduction to mountaineeriing. Views of the neighboring cascade peaks and a glimpse into an active volcano. Route not populated in the summer months.


Obtaining a permit. Long, strenuous hike. Weather can change quickly.

Trailhead Elevation

2,700.00 ft (822.96 m)


Big vistas
Geologically significant


Nearby Adventures

Southwest Washington/Mount St. Helens, Washington
Southwest Washington/Mount St. Helens, Washington

Nearby Lodging + Camping

Mt. Adams/Indian Heaven Wilderness/Goat Rocks, Washington
Mt. Adams/Indian Heaven Wilderness/Goat Rocks, Washington


Clear skies over low clouds led to a spectacular sunrise from the summit. We were on trail at 2am to beat the crowds, and just managed to catch the sun coming up from the rim of the crater. Snow levels have receded to about 6500'. Snow was icy in the AM higher up the mountain, but we decided to forego use of our crampons as there were plenty of steps in place following boot pack trails.

Low winds, folks at the top were boiling water for tea and an enjoyable summit experience. A group of 5, our group (2), and one solo climber for the sunrise experience... the crowds started to slog in as we descended. I'd recommend an early AM start to beat the crowds. Ascent time was 4 hours from Marble Mountain Sno-Park to summit.

Note: Sign in at the Cougar Cafe is no longer available-- the trip registry is now located at the Marble Mountain Sno-Park. Permit sleeves are also available at this location.
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