Mt. St. Helens is rugged country mt biking with amazing views looking directly into the opening of the mountain crater. With 83 miles of trails, there’s enough to ride for several days of adventure.
North Side Trails: Coldwater Lake
Take I-5 north to Woodland, WA and take Hwy 503 east towards Mt St Helens and follow signs to Coldwater Lake. The 211 trailhead can be accessed at the boat ramp and the 230A trailhead is about 1 mile past the Coldwater lake entrance.
South Side Trails: Ape Canyon and Smith Creek
Take i-5 north to Woodland and take Hwy 503 east towards Mt St Helens. After about 40-50 miles turn left onto NF-83 towards Ape Canyon. Follow this road for about 10 miles to the Ape Canyon Trailhead.
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.
The annual Coldwater work party the first weekend of June every year and the annual SHIFT trail building party in August every year.
The trail consists of a loop around Coldwater lake that includes three trails (211, 230, & 230A) that can be ridden clockwise or counterclockwise. If you ride Clockwise, the 230 trail is a steep 2 mile ~1500ft switchback climb out of the lake that at times is a hike-a-bike, but there is a great 3-4 mile decent down the 230A trail to the trailhead.
The Ape Canyon trail is a great 4.5 mile (~1600ft) trail that rises from the trailhead to where it emerges from the trees and onto the Plains of Abraham trail. From there the trail continues across the plains with amazing views of Mt Hood, Mt Adams, and Mt Rainier. Once past the plains the trail continues through a series of switch backs that ends a log sticking out of the ground known as “The Lunch time log” before the trails starts down the ridge. Many people turn around here for a nice 16 mile out and back ride that is about 2500ft of climbing. If you’re looking for a more adventurous ride continue on down the ridge for another mile before the trial merges with a gravel road. The gravel road goes for about 2 miles before coming into the Windy Ridge Observatory.
There are a number of ways to do this, but most common is to ride as an out and back. Turn around at the “lunch time log” or continue onto Windy Ridge observatory and ride down into Smith Creek. Please note this is serious rugged country and the trail is hard-ish to find. Make sure to do your research on this section or ride with someone who knows the route. You can shuttle this by putting a car at the bottom of Smith Creek trailhead or ride out from the bottom back to the Ape Canyon trailhead.