WA – Mount St Helens, Mount Margaret

After a couple days along State Route 504 which led to the Johnson Ridge Observatory and hiking to Loowit Falls (link), I headed to the Forest Road 99 on the east side. I stopped at all the interpretative pullouts, taking short walkabouts to learn more about the eruption of 1980. Seeing the physical remains of this car was a visual reality, even more amazing was the condition of the tires and vehicle given both the event and the elapsed 39 years. I don’t think a car of 2019 would be this recognizable.

Meta Lake

Windy Ridge

It’s hard to resist the temptation to climb the 368 steps for the 360-degree views.

Looking down at Spirit Lake.

The mountain still didn’t want to give me a clear view.

I enjoyed listening to the ranger talks.

Norway Pass Trailhead

As the trail climbs to Norway Pass, you get a nice glance back at Meta Lake.

The log mat on Spirit Lake becomes more obvious as you continue to climb.

This is the Crater Glacier which changed significantly after the 1980 eruption. According to a USGS publication, “October 1980 to 1986— Over the course of 17 episodes, lava eruptions began filling the crater, building a lava dome that reached 876 feet above the crater floor. Since 1986, snow and rock accumulating in the deep, shaded crater formed Crater Glacier, the youngest glacier on Earth. October 2004 to January 2008—Growing lava domes displaced and then divided Crater Glacier into east and west lobes. The ice lobes moved downslope as fast as 6 feet per day, converging below the lava dome a little more than three years later.”

I believe this is Mount Margaret, but it’s such an indistinct peak, it was hard to discern. One of the interesting things about this photo also is that it shows the number of trees still standing after nearly 40 years. Plus look at all the new trees!

Although it’s a low snow year, it was great to see remaining snow patches. I wasn’t able to secure a backcountry camping permit which would have had me camping on the other side of the ridge. I liked this view of Mt Rainier, Boot Lake and the Lakes Basin. If you look closely you can see the pick-up-stick trees still lying helter skelter from the blast.

I continued a bit past the Mt Margaret trail junction to see Saint Helens Lake.

My curiosity led me to find some goats.

There was one quite sketchy section of trail. This would have been a turnaround for many hikers. I met a WTA trail crew who’d been working on another section and said they fixed this up a bit when they came through and hoped to do a bit more on their exit. The section not quite visible between the dirt and granite was the worse.

It was great to be able to say thank you personally to each of the crew working hard to improve trail conditions.

I was glad to see the many wildflowers.

Before and after of the Dr. Seuss flower (aka Western pasqueflower).

I also had views of Mount Adams, which a friend just happened to be climbing the same day.

With smoke from fires in Alaska and Canada making the skies hazy, distant views were somewhat limited but I found Mt Hood.

Adventure Date(s):

  • July 20, 2019

Hike Details:Tips:

  • Dispersed camping on the east side is easier as most of Road 26 is in the Gifford Pinchot Forest rather than the park.
  • If heading north, Mt Adams Cafe in Randall had great food, customer service and WiFi. Showers and laundry were available at Packwood RV Park.
  • Love their reminders.
  • Nice to have water at the trailhead, but eh gads it was hard to turn, more so in the afternoon than morning.



2 thoughts on “WA – Mount St Helens, Mount Margaret

  1. Thanks Jan! I remember when St. Helens erupted in May of 1980 and the tragedies that followed. So amazing to see how life has come back and thrived.

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