Hiking Mount St. Helens (Volcanic Park)

As much as I would like to say I hiked Mount St. Helens, I did not. Not yet. After a 4th of July weekend trip to the park, I want to.

The park is remote and hauntingly lovely. Evidence of the 1980 explosion is everywhere, from the logs clustered in Spirit Lake, the burned white tree stumps and of course the mountain itself. It’s cool to see how much has grown and come back to life in the years since.

I went on a rather epic 10-mile hike to Arch Rock. We had clear views of the volcano, Mount Hood, Mount Adams and St Helens Lake. I’ve never seen so many alpine flowers at one time – flame-red Indian paintbrush, blue lupin and tiny white phlox. There also is no tree cover. I came back with an equally epic sunburn.

Around mile 4.5, worn out after a steep climb, I asked a passing hiker if Arch Rock was obvious. She replied – archly – “Yes. You walk right through the arch.” It’s almost like being transported to Arches National Park in Utah. It’s worth the climb.

Do you have a favorite hike at Mount St Helens? Do tell.

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