Coldwater Lake

Located about 2.5 hours north east of Portland, the Coldwater Lake trail consists of three trails (211, 230 and 230A).  The entire loop is about 12 miles long with approximately 2000 feet of climbing. While the loop can be ridden in either direction, many folks prefer to ride clockwise due to the long downhill from the top of the 230 trail to the bottom of the 230A trail.

The 211 trail is about 5 miles long and rolls along the full length of the lake. For those who don’t want to do that much climbing, it can be ridden as an out and back ride.

The 230 trail is only about 2.5 miles long, but is where most of the elevation gains happen. It quickly climbs up from the lake in what seems like endless switchbacks. This section of the trail is heavily canopied and has a log of bugs, so if you ride this clockwise you might be have a little extra motivation to hurry on your climb to the top.

The 230A trail is about 4.5 miles long and, if ridden clockwise, is a super fun downhill adventure.

Coldwater Lake / Mt Margaret on

Driving directions

From Portland:

It will take 2-2.5 hours to get to Coldwater Lake. Drive I-5 north to Castle Rock. Take Hwy 504 toward Mt. Saint Helens (Toutle Lake exit). Coldwater Lake is approximately 60-70 minutes east on Hwy 504. Be sure to turn off Hwy 504 at Coldwater Lake and stop and enjoy the viewpoints along the drive!

Two Trailheads

211 Trail starts at the Coldwater Lake boat launch

230A Trail starts about a mile past the boat launch.

Note: No dogs are allowed in the Coldwater Lake area.

NWTA’s Coldwater Lake History

The Coldwater Lake work party started around 15 years ago with a few guys from the Longview, Washington area, spearheaded by Brian Mahon.  At the time, the USFS didn’t have the time to maintain the trails at Coldwater Lake and most of the loop was closed.

Figuring the worst they could say was no, Brian and a couple of his buddies posed a question to USFS:

“If we maintain the 230A trail, can we ride it?”

USFS agreed and for the next couple of years, Brian and a handful of mountain bikers made an annual trip up to Coldwater Lake to clean up the trail for the season.  

After a few years, Brian, together with some folks from Growlers Gulch and representatives from NWTA, approached the USFS with an offer to maintain the 211 trail. This proposal gave the USFS pause.  They thought the 211 Trail cleanup project would take all summer, but the Mt. Saint Helens Monument Manager took a risk and allowed the group to do a test run. The crew recruited nearly 90 people to help out and they completed cleanup of the entire 211 Trail in 4 hours! 

The following year, the crew extended the work party to include all of the trails around Coldwater Lake and the work party has continued every spring since. Join us for our next camp out and work party May 31-June 2, 2019.