Independence Pass South Segment

Randle, Washington

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Originally the first 0.2 mile of this trail was a true sand ladder — a series of wooden rungs held together with cables which allow easier climbing and descending over steep, loose soil. Now 8 rock and 428 wooden steps replace the old sand ladder. Climb the steps and then bear left to the viewpoint at 4,230 feet elevation on the pumice-covered slope. Take some time here to admire nature’s violent handiwork. Look into the crater and see what was once the inside of a mountain. Spirit Lake, with its thousands of floating logs, is below. To the west Johnston Ridge Observatory sits perched atop Johnston Ridge. Further along the trail, Mount Margaret and Mount Rainier come into view, while penstemon dots the landscape between the downed logs. These flowers bloom through July. As you get farther along into a slightly more protected area, paintbrush, fireweed, elderberries and huckleberries join the penstemon.
Best Easy Day Hikes: Mount St. Helens

DESCRIPTION FROM:

Best Easy Day Hikes: Mount St. Helens

by Fred Barstad (Falcon Guides)

Originally the first 0.2 mile of this trail was a true sand ladder — a series of wooden rungs held together with cables which allow easier climbing and descending over steep, loose soil. Now 8 rock and 428 wooden steps replace the old sand ladder. Climb the steps and then bear left to the viewpoint at 4,230 feet elevation on the pumice-covered slope. Take some time here to admire nature’s violent handiwork.

Look into the crater and see what was once the inside of a mountain. Spirit Lake, with its thousands of floating logs, is below. To the west Johnston Ridge Observatory sits perched atop Johnston Ridge. Further along the trail, Mount Margaret and Mount Rainier come into view, while penstemon dots the landscape between the downed logs. These flowers bloom through July. As you get farther along into a slightly more protected area, paintbrush, fireweed, elderberries and huckleberries join the penstemon.

©  Fred Barstad/Falcon Guides. All Rights Reserved.

Activity Type: Hiking
Nearby City: Randle
Distance: 1.4
Elevation Gain: 520 feet
Trail Type: Out-and-back
Skill Level: Easy
Duration: Day hike
Season: Best spring thru fall
Local Contacts: Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument
Local Maps: USGS Spirit Lake E, Spirit Lake W
Driving Directions: Directions to Independence Pass (South Segment)

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Apr 2018