South Coldwater

Mount Saint Helens National Volcanic Monument, Washington

Distance3.4mi
Elevation Gain1,958ft
Trailhead Elevation2,519ft
Top3,948ft
Elevation Min/Max2519/3948ft
Elevation Start/End2519/2519ft

South Coldwater

South Coldwater is a hiking trail in Skamania County and Cowlitz County, Washington. It is within Mount Saint Helens National Volcanic Monument. It is 3.4 miles long and begins at 2,519 feet altitude. Traveling the entire trail is 6.8 miles with a total elevation gain of 1,958 feet. Near the trailhead there are a viewpoint and parking. This trail connects with the following: Coldwater Trail.

South Coldwater Professional Guides

Detailed Trail Descriptions from Our Guidebooks

Day Hiking Mount St. Helens (The Mountaineers Books)
Craig Romano and Aaron Theisen
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"From Castle Rock (exit 49 on I-5), follow State Route 504 east for 45 miles, turning left into the Coldwater Lake Recreation Area. Continue 0.4 mile, bearing left to the boat launch and trailhead (elev. 2510 ft). Privy available."
A FalconGuide to Mount St. Helens (Falcon Guides)
Fred Barstad
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"This entire hike is within the Blast Zone of the May 18, 1980, eruption, and features elk and blacktails. This hike leads you up a ridge from South Coldwater Trailhead on the South Coldwater Trail, passing demolished logging equipment. You’ll then descend into Coldwater Canyon on the Coldwater Trail. Once you reach the canyon bottom, you’ll hike along Coldwater Lake on the Lakes Trail to Lakes Trailhead. Early in the season (April and May) elk are very common along the Coldwater Lake section of this route, which can be accessed at that time from Lakes Trailhead, but the higher elevations of the loop will probably still be snow covered. Black-tailed deer (Odocoileus hemionus columbianus) are common along the lake in all seasons."
Day Hiking Mount St. Helens (The Mountaineers Books)
Craig Romano and Aaron Theisen
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"Hike along a ridge above the sparkling waters of Coldwater Lake admiring Nature’s reclamation of a ravaged landscape. Marvel at the deciduous forests rapidly re-greening clear-cuts and blown down trees from past logging and the 1980 blast."
Day Hiking: South Cascades (The Mountaineers Books)
Dan A. Nelson
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"If you only have time to do one of the trails framing Coldwater Lake, my money would go on the South Coldwater Trail. The Lakes Trail on the north shore is a beautiful hike, but this hike is just the complete package. You’ve got the human history in the shape of volcano-mangled machinery. You have wildlife, in the form of frequently present elk (and small critters are always underfoot if the big wapiti are being bashful). You’ve got the volcanic landscape, and of course, you have a respectable elevation gain to get your blood flowing, letting you know you are hiking in the Cascades, after all."

South Coldwater Trip Reports

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7/16/2009
My friends &Were thoroughly impressed by this hike. The climb moderate and varied fauna & views were a rare treat; especially the incredible riot of flowers this late in the month. Adding to this adventure; was the surreal quality of seeing logging equipment half buried from the blast. An overall great dayhike!
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9/21/2007
The weather was great, sunny with a breeze. We started the hike at 1:30 which, in hindsight, was a poor choice, since we were on the trail for 6 hours. Be sure to start this one early in the day. It's long and there are many reasons to stop including the masses of tiny frogs which covered the path for the first 1/2 mile. Clearing them from the path in order to walk without crushing them was daunting ;-) There are also MANY great photo ops here. Bring your camera. At times, the trail fades to almost nothing. If you aren't comfortable with that, navigating through thick vegetation or scrambling across a few creeks - this isn't the trail for you. On the otherhand, if you like all of that, this is a spectacular trail. We saw many deer, lots of animal tracks, great views and the lake is lovely. We'll be back to kayak some day.
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7/2/2005
nice hike, connector (230) between south coldwater trail (230a)
and north shore of coldwater lake (#211) is not maintained and at times quite overgrown. requires almost 1 mile of walking along south coldwater creek road to connect south coldwater trailhead (TH) with coldwater lake TH. beautiful views of lake and mt. st. helens. recommend doing the loop in clockwise direction, starting at the south coldwater TH, then along road to coldwater lake TH, follow #211, connect to #230, and return via #230a to trailhead.
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Trail Information

Mount Saint Helens National Volcanic Monument
Nearby City
Mount Saint Helens National Volcanic Monument
Parks
Kid-friendly
Accessibility
Moderate to Difficult
Skill Level
Waterfalls
Features
Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument
Local Contacts
Green Trails Mt St. Helens 332S
Local Maps

Trail Log