Ape Canyon Trail is a hiking and biking trail in Skamania County, Washington. It is within Mount Saint Helens National Volcanic Monument. It is 4.3 miles long and begins at 2,879 feet altitude. Traveling the entire trail is 8.8 miles with a total elevation gain of 2,981 feet. The Ape Canyon Trailhead parking and the Ape Canyon Trailhead attraction are near the trailhead. Along the trail there are a shingle, a viewpoint, and a cliff.
Ape Canyon Trail Professional Reviews and Guides
"This trail visits two worlds not ordinarily seen: the upper reaches of a volcano and the edge of what they call the “blast zone.” Without too much climbing, you can stand in a wonderful old-growth forest and be about 20 feet from an area that was completely obliterated in 1980. At the top, you’ll enjoy a sweeping view highlighted by an amazing geological oddity, right at the base of the volcano. Bring warm clothing. Weather at this altitude can change quickly."
--Paul Gerald, 60 Hikes within 60 Miles: Portland (Menasha Ridge Press).
"Hike along a ridge cloaked in old-growth timber above the nearly mile-wide Muddy River lahar. Take in excellent views of the south ﬂank of Mount St. Helens, as well as Mount Adams in the distance. And marvel at the stark, tightly notched walls of Ape Canyon."
--Craig Romano and Aaron Theisen , Day Hiking Mount St. Helens (The Mountaineers Books).
"The Ape Canyon Trail provides one of the best possible places to observe and study the effects that a large lahar has on the landscape. This route climbs along the edge of the huge Muddy River Lahar, then treats you to a spectacular view down the sharply cut upper gorge of Ape Canyon—and the possibility of being entertained by the marmots that live close by."
--Fred Barstad, A FalconGuide to Mount St. Helens (Falcon Guides).
"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."
--Dan A. Nelson , Day Hiking: South Cascades (The Mountaineers Books).
"The Ape Canyon Trail climbs gently as it leaves the trailhead. After a short distance, the path turns right along the bank of the Muddy River Lahar. Four-tenths of a mile from the trailhead the trail follows an abandoned roadbed for a short distance. Flowers cover much of the open area in July. Watch for a colony of whistle pigs (hoary marmots) that inhabit the upper part of Ape Canyon above the gorge."
--Fred Barstad, Best Easy Day Hikes: Mount St. Helens (Falcon Guides).
"This strenuous tour winds through a mystical red cedar and Douglas-fir forest and then takes you through part of the eruption zone in the Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument. Additional highlights are stunning views of Ape Canyon and Mount St. Helens. This trail is consideried difficult, due to steep terrain, technical obstacles, and a steep section of stairs. Trail surface: 17.4 miles of singletrack; 3.6 miles of gravel road."
--Lizann Dunegan, Mountain Biking Oregon: Northwest & Central Oregon (Falcon Guides).
"The ride through this area starts with a climb on regenerated forest and old growth untouched by the eruption. It travels on the east side of the Lahar mudflow, which you can spy through the woods. Breaking out of the trees, past a delicate meadow, the full effect of the eruption emerges. The overlook atop Ape Canyon dramatically shows the path of a mudflow to its depths; the regenerating but stark blast zone shows the cycles of nature at its most dramatic. Mt. Rainier and Mt. Adams lie beyond the moonscape before you, as Mt. St. Helens rules the view. This ride is not for beginners. You don't have to make the whole trip to appreciate the grandeur of the location, though. If you're a strong intermediate-level rider with a sense of adventure, go for it--there's no shame in turning back before Windy Ridge Viewpoint. Scenery: Old-growth and regenerated forest on the climb up to ape Canyon viewpoint; in-your-face views of Mt. St. Helens as you travel through regenerating blast zone; views of volcanic neighbors Mt. Rainier and Mt. Adams; more dramatic vistas from the windy Ridge Viewpoint."
--Bennett & Leman, Mountain Bike! Washington (Menasha Ridge Press).
"Some of the best singletrack within extended driving distance of Portland, the ride along the Ape Canyon Trail to the Plains of Abraham starts out in pristine forest but soon delivers you to the Mount St. Helens blast zone. A classic out-and-back day ride starts at the Ape Canyon Trailhead and ascends to the Windy Ridge Viewpoint. If you’re really adventurous and enjoy unpredictability, a loop descending the Smith Creek Trail should satiate that hunger nicely."
--Adam Sawyer, Best Outdoor Adventures Near Portland, Oregon (Falcon Guides).
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