Ape Cave Trail is a hiking trail in Skamania County, Washington. It is within Mount Saint Helens National Volcanic Monument. It is 1.3 miles long and begins at 2,450 feet altitude. Traveling the entire trail is 2.6 miles with a total elevation gain of 464 feet. The Skylight and Lava Fall viewpoints can be seen along the trail. The trail ends near the Ape Cave Upper Entrance cave entrance.
Ape Cave Trail Professional Reviews and Guides
"Get a spelunker’s-eye view of the southern Washington Cascades’ volcanic history in the longest continuous lava tube in the United States.Two tubes, lower and upper, form the cave. The upper cave is more difficult. Except for the skylight three-quarters of the way in, you’ll do it all in the dark."
--Craig Romano and Aaron Theisen , Day Hiking Mount St. Helens (The Mountaineers Books).
"Ape Cave, the longest known lava tube cave in North America, offers a challenging scramble through the upper cave and a gentle return via a surface trail to the main entrance. Then you again descend into the cave for an easier out-and-back walk through the lower cave.There is no natural light in the cave; therefore each person should have at least two good sources of light with him or her. Headlamps are best."
--Fred Barstad, Best Hikes Near Portland, Oregon (Falcon Guides).
"“Hey Mom! It’s the secret hiding place of a slime mold!” said the delighted little boy as he descended the steps into the cave. Another child said with a gleeful smile, “Now we’re inside the volcano!” Of course she wasn’t, but these are the longest intact lava tubes in the United States, visited by 96,000 visitors each year, and representing volcanic activity of Mount St. Helens perhaps 2000 years before the 1980 eruption. Children will be disappointed when they hear how the Ape Cave got its name: It was discovered in 1951 by members of a mountaineering club called the Mount St. Helens Apes. No, there are no Bigfoot apes found there."
--Joan Burton, Best Hikes with Kids: Western Washington & the Cascades (The Mountaineers Books).
"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."
--Dan A. Nelson , Day Hiking: South Cascades (The Mountaineers Books).
Sign in/up to upload photos.