Trail of Two Forests

Cougar, Washington

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The two forests in question are separated in age by 2000 years, but they stand side by side. One forest is a lush, old-growth Douglas-fir and western red-cedar ecosystem that surrounds this boardwalk trail. The other is a young forest that was originally engulfed and consumed by the lava flows from an eruption of Mount St. Helens more than two millennia ago. The trees from that ancient forest are gone, and all that remains are the imprints left by their burning hulks in the cooling lava. The lava solidified faster than the trees burned, and as a result there are hollow impressions of trees engulfed by the river of rock. These three-dimensional imprints of trees are called lava casts—three-dimensional impressions in the rock—and this scenic loop trip offers plenty of opportunity to study them.
Day Hiking: South Cascades

DESCRIPTION FROM:

Day Hiking: South Cascades

by Dan A. Nelson (The Mountaineers Books)

The two forests in question are separated in age by 2000 years, but they stand side by side. One forest is a lush, old-growth Douglas-fir and western red-cedar ecosystem that surrounds this boardwalk trail. The other is a young forest that was originally engulfed and consumed by the lava flows from an eruption of Mount St. Helens more than two millennia ago.

The trees from that ancient forest are gone, and all that remains are the imprints left by their burning hulks in the cooling lava. The lava solidified faster than the trees burned, and as a result there are hollow impressions of trees engulfed by the river of rock. These three-dimensional imprints of trees are called lava casts—three-dimensional impressions in the rock—and this scenic loop trip offers plenty of opportunity to study them.

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

Activity Type: Hiking
Nearby City: Cougar
Distance: 0.5
Elevation Gain: 50 feet
Trail Type: Loop/Lollipop
Skill Level: Easy
Season: Late May-November
Trailhead Elevation: 1,900 feet
Top Elevation: 1,885 feet
Accessibility: Kid-friendly
Local Contacts: USFS Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument
Local Maps: Green Trails No. 364 Mount St. Helens
Driving Directions: Directions to Trail of Two Forests

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Apr 2018