Whittier Ridge Trail

Mount Saint Helens National Volcanic Monument, Washington

Elevation Gain2,183ft
Trailhead Elevation5,195ft
Elevation Min/Max5183/5891ft
Elevation Start/End5195/5195ft

Whittier Ridge Trail

Whittier Ridge Trail is a hiking trail in Skamania County, Washington. It is within Mount Saint Helens National Volcanic Monument. It is 1.7 miles long and begins at 5,195 feet altitude. Traveling the entire trail is 3.6 miles with a total elevation gain of 2,183 feet. Mount Whittier (elevation 5,814 feet) can be seen along the trail. This trail connects with the following: Lakes Trail and Boundary Trail.

Whittier Ridge Trail Professional Guides

Detailed Trail Descriptions from Our Guidebooks

Day Hiking: South Cascades (The Mountaineers Books)
Dan A. Nelson
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"This trail was carved out of cliff faces and mountaintops. The route is long, sun-baked, and incredibly scenic, while the trail itself is rough, steep and very exposed. One section on the flank of Whittier was blasted from a sheer rock face—anyone with acrophobia should be prepared for a case of the jitters, as the trail on this section features a sheer drop. Indeed, given the rough-hewn nature of much of the Mount Whittier section of the route, we join the national monument officials in recommending that only experienced hikers comfortable on scramble routes attempt this trail. Those who don’t want to deal with the vertigo-inducing exposure and rock-strewn trail can still enjoy this route—just make it an out-and-back trek on the northern (lakes region) section of the loop component, skipping Whittier’s rugged slope altogether."

Whittier Ridge Trail Trip Reports

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On the weekend of Sept. 15th 2012 we went for a backpack to circle Spirit Lake. The road to Independence Pass and Windy Ridge Trailhead was closed to vehicles and hikes. So we our backpack route changed to: from Norway Pass Trailhead, take the Boundary Trail to Bear Pass, drop down on the Lakes Trail follow it to the Whittier Ridge Trail, up it to the Boundary Trail and return to our vehicle. We had no clue as to the terrain of either the Lakes or the Whittier Ridge Trails.
The Whittier Ridge Trail is a short 2.1-mile trail. However nearly half of that distance is on 2nd class terrain (hands required for balance), with a few short 3rd class rock scrambles (easy climbing but hands are required) thrown in for good measure. To cover this trail in 2 hours would be a good pace, 4 hours with a backpack is still reasonable.
There are many short exposed hiking sections en route. Two of the more exciting ones are:
The final climb up Mt. Whittier has the most significant 3rd class climbing. Mt Whittier at 5,883’ is the highest point on the ridge.
And a very exposed 2nd class ramp on the side of a pinnacle between Mt. Whittier and the Boundary Trail climbs about 40 feet.
Route finding is another issue. Once you find the correct path on the rock cliffs, the route is easily followed. The route finding problem is mostly an issue in the easy hiking terrain where people wandered off the scantly marked trail and where animals’ paths intersect the trail. In a few sections the mountain goat paths are more obvious than the hiking trail.
Is it easier to go from the Lakes trail to the Boundary Trail or visa versa? Technically they will be about the same, however many sections we went up could be scary looking when hiking down. From my experience mountain climbing I think hiking up the trail (Lakes to Boundary) is easier psychologically than the reverse.
Unless you are extremely experienced with steep snow/ice I would not attempt this trail under snow/ice conditions.

Whittier Ridge Trail Photos

Trail Information

Mount Saint Helens National Volcanic Monument
Nearby City
Mount Saint Helens National Volcanic Monument
Skill Level
USFS Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument
Local Contacts
Green Trails No. 332 Spirit Lake
Local Maps