As for the hike: one source refers to it as, "a long hike with more beauty than the eye can absorb." And it really did live up to it's reputation. It begins by a steep climb for a mile. Not far in, you will have a view of Mt Adams that will keep for the remainder of the hike. Views of Mt Rainier improve as you work your way. We had an interesting encounter with an elk hunter who approached us in full camo. He requested that we follow him. We did so without hesitation, wondering if we were ignorantly following a lunatic with a full set of bow and arrow deeper into the back-country. He turned out to be a very sweaty, yet, friendly man that wanted to show us a mountain goat on a distant hill-side. He even let us use his awesome binoculars. We thanked him and continued on the trail. We encountered snow, which felt great at the time. Another cool aspect of this hike is that you are hiking through the blast zone of Mt St Helens. One part is referred to as "match-stick forest," because the trees were splintered as if they were match-sticks from the powerful lateral blast. MSH is awesome! Unfortunately, it was a hazy that day. I have read that views can be even better than what we saw. At the summit, we watched a heard of wild elk on a plateau in the distance. We went back the way we came and saw a family gathering what was left on the huckleberry bushes (if we had been there a few weeks earlier, there would have been a lot more).
We stopped at the Lone Fir in Cougar and rewarded ourselves with pizza. Then, headed home.
- Elevation: 2,400 feet
- Distance: 11.4 miles RT
- NW Forest Pass required at trailhead