Day Hiking South Cascades  by Dan A. Nelson

Day Hiking: South Cascades Guide Book

by Dan A. Nelson (The Mountaineers Books)
Day Hiking South Cascades  by Dan A. Nelson
Day Hiking: South Cascades includes the White Pass area, Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument, Mount Adams, the Columbia Gorge, the Goat Rocks Wilderness, and the Yakama Indian Reservation. Includes: 125 trails, each rated on a scale of 1 to 5 stars; difficulty ratings and detailed route descriptions; nearby camping options and how to extend your hike; easy-to-use topographic maps and elevation profiles; quick-reference icons for kids, dogs, local history, and more; info on flora and fauna, outdoor recreation, and trail advocacy; full-color photos and overview map; organized by major highways for easier planning; hikes-at-a-glance chart for choosing a route; and 1% of sales benefits Washington trails.

© 2007 Dan A Nelson /The Mountaineers Books. All Rights Reserved.

Trails from the "Day Hiking: South Cascades" Guide Book
Displaying trails 20 of 125.

Displaying trails 1 to 20 of 125.

Mount Adams towers over the South Cascades. The big strato-volcano rises out of a jumble of lava beds, which make cross-country travel difficult along the flanks of the big mountain. But those same lava flows add a wonderful scenic element to trail hiking. Snow-capped Mount Adams fills the horizon, but at its feet is a world of jagged black rock that slashes at the boots and hands of any adventurer careless enough to scramble off-trail.
Trout Lake, WA - Hiking - Trail Length: 9
A mile-wide lahar scoured portions of the Muddy River valley, while other parts of the canyon offer you features created by eons of erosion from floods and long-forgotten mudflows. The trail takes you in and out of several small side basins, each providing a unique thrill. Some are filled with wildflowers and ferns. Others are rich woodlands. All are alive with birdsong and critter activity.
Harmony Falls Landing, WA - Hiking - Trail Length: 11
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The primates that gave their name to two lava tubes found along this trail weren’t monkeys—they were members of a 1950s outdoor club who found and explored the tubes. They called themselves the Mount St. Helens Apes, and the lava tubes became known as their caves. The tubes are long tunnels in the thick lava beds; they run roughly parallel to the surface of the land. Interpretive signs line both the trail through the forest and the tubes’ mouths. The lower tube is the easiest (but still requires a certain amount of care) and the upper tube is larger. It is not possible to hike in the caves the entire length between the two entrances. Descending into the tubes requires a jacket—it’s a constant, cool 42 degrees under the earth, regardless of what happens on the surface—and a powerful flashlight or lantern. The tube beds are rough and uneven. Note: Powerful flashlights with well-charged batteries or a strong lantern are required for walking in the caves. Do not try to explore these spots without a good light.
Cougar, WA - Hiking - Trail Length: 2.6
A rough road and short trail may deter you from making this hike, but remember the great views and solitude that await at the top. Badger Ridge Trail, steep in places and a bit primitive. It traverses the ridge on the north flank of Badger Mountain. There are pleasant views from the trail, but the best panoramas of the surrounding forests and mountains are found at the top of Badger Mountain.
Siler, WA - Hiking - Trail Length: 1.75
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Beacon Rock earned its name when Captains Lewis and Clark camped in its shadow on their way to the Pacific Ocean in 1805. The rock is an 848-foot basalt column that formed the core of an ancient volcano. It towers over the Columbia River, and its sheer walls were unscaled until 1901—the date of the first recorded ascent of the rock. Notably, that first climb followed the route now covered by the intricate system of paths, bridges, and stairs that make up the trail today.
Skamania, WA - Hiking - Trail Length: 2
After the first mile, you’ll climb relentlessly, for much of the way in dense forests with few or no views. But the payoff for this thigh-burning, lung-tearing workout: incredible vistas from atop one of the highest peaks on the easternmost flank of the Goat Rocks.
Silver Beach, WA - Hiking - Trail Length: 15
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Along this trail, interpretive signs offer information on the flora, fauna, and geography of the area, but you won’t need signs to figure out that this land is beautiful and wild. The wide, compacted trail meanders through ancient Douglas-fir forest before reaching the viewing platform overlooking the falls.
Northwoods, WA - Hiking - Trail Length: 1.5
The Big Lava Bed is the home of an old lava flow—magma oozed out of fissures and cracks in the heart of the Lava Bed (as well as along the lower flanks of Mount Adams, in the southern Indian Heaven area, and of course, around Mount St. Helens). The flows began some 9000 years ago and, as Mount St. Helens showed, volcanic activity in the area is still occurring. The Big Lava Bed is a volcanic formation, but it’s not the classic conical volcano. Rather, it is a 20-square- mile flow of basalt that flowed out of a source vent found in the north-central part of the bed, just south of Goose Lake.
Stabler, WA - Hiking - Trail Length: 13
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Indian Heaven Wilderness is a wonderland of sparkling lakes, jagged peaks, open forests, and, most notably, expansive meadows filled with flowers and an array of wildlife. A pair of loops around Bird Mountain—the highest peak in the wilderness—allow hikers to experience the best of each of those offerings. The short loop stays close to the flank of Bird Mountain, while the longer loop wanders farther south into bigger meadowlands before turning back to skirt around the mountain.
Tire Junction, WA - Backpacking,Hiking - Trail Length: 7
Hikers might feel like there’s no end in sight on the long, steep climb that characterizes the Bishop Ridge Trail. But really, the trail does level off. You just need to put in the miles! The trail levels out somewhat on the ridge and then leapfrogs from one ridge-top meadow to another, passing through intermittent sections of dense fir forest. So really, whatever the effort required, it’s worth it, if you enjoy exploring lush forest ecosystems.
Cora, WA - Hiking - Trail Length: 9
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The Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument is all about the raw destructive power of a big volcano, right? Wrong, as this trail proves. Here you find not destruction, but a celebration of life. Wildflowers flourish in gaudy displays of color along this route, and wildlife abounds. Deer and elk are commonly seen browsing on those rich wildflowers. Deer mice and ground squirrels also feast on those plants and their seeds. And red-tailed hawks and falcons feast on those seed-fattened rodents.
Harmony Falls Landing, WA - Hiking - Trail Length: 4.5
Indian Heaven Wilderness abounds in forest lakes, expansive meadows, craggy peaks, and majestic wilderness. Native Americans took advantage of all those offerings, and this trail lets you do the same. The lakes you’ll pass along the route still hold hardy populations of trout. The meadows you’ll cross offer a bounty of berries, and, for those who really want to feast at the wilderness buffet, camas root (a starchy staple of the local tribal diet for centuries). Deer and elk browse through the forest/meadow interface, using the timberlands for cover and the meadows for forage. This trail, in short, takes you on a virtual trip through time, leading you back into the wild country that provided so much to the locals that lived here for millennia.
Tire Junction, WA - Hiking - Trail Length: 13
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The May 18, 1980, eruption of Mount St. Helens rebuilt this entire area. New lakes were formed, old hills and valleys disappeared. Forests were flattened and rivers were obliterated. An entire landscape was altered, and though it has been nearly three decades since the big boom, recovery is occurring on geologic time, not human time. That means we still have time to get out and experience the devastation. The best way to experience the majesty of the volcanic power is to get out and just hike the landscape. The Boundary Trail extends across vast sections of the landscape, but sometimes a little goes a long way, so we’re offering bits and pieces. This western segment is a good introduction to the blast.
Harmony Falls Landing, WA - Hiking - Trail Length: 4
After following the Pacific Crest Trail east for a mile, this trail turns north and climbs steeply for another mile to the top of lonesome Bunker Hill. This peak stands apart from other mountains in the area and therefore offers great unobstructed views in all directions. The Forest Service used to maintain a fire lookout station at the summit, and it’s easy to see why. The views of the Wind River valley and the southern Washington Cascades are fantastic. The summit is a maze of rocky outcroppings, which (while fun to scramble over) are potentially dangerous; they end abruptly at tall cliffs that drop hundreds of feet to jagged rocky slopes. Enjoy the views, but stay away from the edges.
Stabler, WA - Hiking - Trail Length: 4
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This is an easy walk up to a picturesque fire lookout. Along the way, you’ll find huckleberries in abundance along the track, and views that get increasingly better as you climb the slight grade. You have the option of hiking the old dirt road, or following a short trail that loops around the other side of the peak on its way to the summit. Either way, the views are grand and the walking is easy and highly enjoyable.
Siler, WA - Hiking - Trail Length: 1.5
Burnt Rock is an appropriate name for the black mound of basalt piled up near Sheep Lake. The rock is one of the many upthrusts of volcanic rock in this area of massive lava beds, and Sheep Lake is a cool pool of sparkling water nestled in the folds of lava near the base of Burnt Rock. The trail passes a few small barren lava beds, some deep old-growth pine and cedar forests, and fields of huckleberries big enough to satisfy the hunger of a battalion of bears and an army of hikers. The berries of Mount Adams are legendary for their size, their number, and their sweet sun-enriched flavor. Berry bushes line this route from start to finish, sometimes in small clumps in the open forest, sometimes in vast berry patches in the clearings. It’s a wonderful thing to be able to hike all day, nibbling on juicy fruit as you walk, with wonderful views of the snow-capped mountain before you.
Randle, WA - Hiking - Trail Length: 13
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Butte Camp offers a great destination for those wanting an easy outing, or even a short overnight backpacking trip. The trail starts with grand vistas and runs through fields of wildflowers along the way. You’ll experience the majesty of a native Northwest forest and the awesome power of the volcanic landscape.
Cougar, WA - Hiking - Trail Length: 5
Looping through a cathedral forest of massive western red cedars and Douglas-fir, this trail offers a lesson in forest ecology. There are countless examples of life springing from death. Huge logs lie across the valley floor—the remains of ancient trees that finally died of age. Vibrant, young trees now grow from these great logs, nourished by the decaying wood of the old giants. Lush mosses, lichens, and ferns carpet the forest and give the trail an emerald glow. From the second half of the trail, you can enjoy views of the Muddy River.
Northwoods, WA - Hiking - Trail Length: 1
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Barrier-free trails are generally designed for folks with mobility concerns—people in wheelchairs or with walking limitations. This unique forest path serves those forest visitors admirably, but it does far more than that. It also opens a wonderful Northwest forest up to the visually impaired. Even hikers who are completely blind can enjoy this remarkable trail.
Siler, WA - Hiking - Trail Length: 1
Paralleling the beautiful Clear Fork of the Cowlitz River, this trail is flat and smooth, making it a wonderful hiking adventure for families with small children or for those who simply want to enjoy the wilderness without a lot of exertion. Over the entire trail length, the elevation gain is less than 300 feet. Walking ease doesn’t correspond to a lack of interesting sights, though. The best and most dominant feature of this hike is the ever-beautiful Clear Fork of the Cowlitz River and the smaller Little Lava Creek on the other side of the valley. We enjoy simply listening to the river; watching the cold, clear water roll over the rocks; admiring the thirsty wildlife that gathers on its shores; or casting a fly into the river and feeling the raw energy of the strong, toothy trout that prowl the icy pools and eddies. In addition to the river, the trail leads to Lily Lake, a small meadow tarn that is the favorite haunt of muskrats and mule deer.
Packwood, WA - Hiking - Trail Length: 3
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