Hiking the easy trail at Coldwater Lake on Mount St. Helens left us in awe of the life that has sprung from this once barren blast zone. The 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens knocked the trees over like matchsticks and covered everything with ash. But over the years, reforestation has taken place and life has returned. We were treated to a marked and measured trail by volunteers for the Northwest Regional Volkssport Walking Conference held in June of 2014.
A great place to see a wide variety of vibrant wildflowers is the Coldwater Lake area, less than three hours from the Portland area. We enjoyed the flowers in late June. There were scarlet paint brush, lupine, daisies, and so much more.
There are accessible board walks, a short paved trail and a not-so-difficult lake perimeter trail. Although you can see wildflowers all over the area, we recommend a short jaunt on the perimeter trail. You can walk out to a bench, have lunch with a view of the lake, and walk back. If you want a challenging hike, do the full 12 mile loop.
Bring, food, water, hiking sticks and wear hiking boots if you do the dirt trail. It is narrow and has some ups and downs with roots and rocks. There are restrooms at the parking area.
Mt St Helens National Volcanic Monument
34 miles east of Toutle, WA
From I-5, take Exit 49, Toutle/Castle Rock. Southbound left, Northbound right, following SR-504 East 45 miles past Toutle to Coldwater Lake Parking at bottom of valley. Parking will be on the left.
Link to park map: http://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/stelprdb5160314.pdf