Lava Canyon Trail 184 is a hiking trail in Skamania County, Washington. It is within Mount Saint Helens National Volcanic Monument. It is 2.4 miles long and begins at 2,838 feet altitude. Traveling the entire trail is 4.9 miles with a total elevation gain of 1,758 feet. The Lava Canyon Interpretive Site attraction and the Lava Canyon Trailhead parking are near the trailhead. There are also a picnic site, an information board, and a restrooms. The Lava Canyon bare rock can be seen along the trail. There are also a viewpoint and a cliff along the trail.
Lava Canyon Trail 184 Professional Reviews and Guides
"There are two hike possibilities from the Lava Canyon Trailhead: a short loop past some of the best waterfalls at Mount St. Helens, and a difficult descent of the Muddy River Gorge, aka Lava Canyon. Whichever hike you choose, the first 0.3 mile is paved and barrier-free. This lahar split near the present site of Lahar Viewpoint, with part of it racing down Pine Creek. The rest rushed down the Muddy River Gorge, aka Lava Canyon, removing all the vegetation as it went. Below the gorge the lahar continued down the Muddy River, smashing and carrying away almost everything in its path and depositing a large volume of logs into Swift Reservoir. This is not the first time a lahar has scoured the timber from Lava Canyon. Geologic evidence shows that this has happened before and in all likelihood will happen again."
--Fred Barstad, A FalconGuide to Mount St. Helens (Falcon Guides).
"Hike into a dramatic chasm formed by an ancient lava ﬂow and scoured clean of vegetation by a massive mudﬂow during the 1980 eruption. Pass by a half dozen waterfalls. Cross a high suspension bridge. Teeter along the edge of steep cliffs and descend into the heart of the chasm on a 30-foot steel ladder."
--Craig Romano and Aaron Theisen , Day Hiking Mount St. Helens (The Mountaineers Books).
"The Loop is rough and slippery in spots. Below the Loop the trail is very rough, exposed and slippery in spots. The ladders, which must be descended to continue down to the Smith Creek Trail and to The Ship, can be slippery when wet. The trail to The Ship is also very difficult and exposed. The paved trail leaves the south side of the parking area, descending gently. You will make a couple of switchbacks and pass some benches before reaching an interpretive viewpoint. The viewpoint is a wooden platform with a handrail and information sign. The side trail turns to the right (southeast) and climbs very steeply to The Ship viewpoint 0.2 mile away. The Ship is a large rock outcrop above the riverbed. The view from The Ship is well worth the effort it takes to get there, but the trail is very steep and exposed."
--Fred Barstad, Best Easy Day Hikes: Mount St. Helens (Falcon Guides).
"This hike begins with the wide, paved Lava Canyon Interpretive Trail, which leads to a viewing platform overlooking a stunning canyon—a deep, jagged cut through a thick layer of ancient lava. From the viewing area, the trail loops down to the canyon rim in a long series of steep (for wheelchair users) switchback turns offering excellent views. The Muddy River cuts through the heart of this basalt canyon, which was scoured clean by the rushing mudflows during the 1980 eruption. The main Lava Canyon Trail continues east along the wild gorge of the Muddy River. You won’t find grand vistas or sweeping panoramas here. You will find a remarkable lesson in geological change—this valley was carved in part by a massive lahar, or volcano-induced mudflow of massive proportions."
--Dan A. Nelson , Day Hiking: South Cascades (The Mountaineers Books).
"An unparalleled look at geological forces at work, Lava Canyon is also a beautiful place to be, with numerous waterfalls, a dramatic bridge, some challenging hiking, and a short, barrier-free loop trail."
--Paul Gerald, 60 Hikes within 60 Miles: Portland (Menasha Ridge Press).
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