Photo Gallery: Hiking Mount St. Helens

Posted On January 24, 2016 at 11:18 am by / Comments Off on Photo Gallery: Hiking Mount St. Helens

By Michael Lanza

More than three decades after it erupted, Mount St. Helens has become one of the most sought-after summits in the country—for good reason. Hikers on the standard Monitor Ridge route, on the mountain’s south side, begin in shady, cool, temperate rainforest, but soon emerge onto a stark, gray and black moonscape of volcanic rocks, pumice, and ash, with little vegetation and sweeping views of the Cascade Mountains. From the crater rim, you get a panorama that could steal the breath away from God.

The rim’s crumbling cliffs send small landslides down into the vast hole—2,000 feet deep and nearly two miles across—created by the eruption that decapitated St. Helens almost a generation ago. Ice-capped volcanoes dominate three horizons: Rainier, Adams, Hood, and Jefferson. See the photo gallery below from my family’s three-generation hike up St. Helens a few summers ago.

Dayhiking 8,363-foot Mount St. Helens is so enormously popular—nearly 14,000 people attempt it every year—that you can’t spontaneously decide to do it. (It’s also one of my top 10 family adventures.) Every climber above 4,800 feet on Mount St. Helens must have a permit that costs $22 per person and is one of the hardest backcountry permits to get on U.S. public lands.

And the opportunity to climb St. Helens this summer is coming up.

Permits for climbing St. Helens between April 1 and Oct. 31, 2016, go on sale online on Feb. 1, at 9 a.m. By early spring, every one of the 100 permits issued per day will be sold out. Apply as soon as permits go on sale at http://ift.tt/1nHdcKq.

The Big Outside is proud to partner with sponsor Osprey Packs. Please help support my blog by liking and following my sponsors on Facebook and other social media and telling them you appreciate their support for The Big Outside.

If you cannot get a permit for your desired dates through the online application process, get on the waiting list at purmit.com. Because people reserve months in advance, there are always permit holders interested in selling, and rules prohibit selling permits for any more than the regular price of $22.

Read my story about our three-generation hike of Mount St. Helens, with more photos, a video, and tips on how to pull it off yourself.


Mount Hood from Monitor Ridge.
Nate, Marco hiking Monitor Ridge.
Alex hiking Monitor Ridge.
Nate and Alex hiking Monitor Ridge.
Crater rim of St. Helens.
Crater rim of St. Helens.
View toward Mount Rainier.

See also my stories “5 Tricks For Getting Tired Kids Through a Hike,” “Are You Ready For That New Outdoors Adventure? 5 Questions to Ask Yourself,” “What Should I Wear? How to Dress for Outdoor Adventures,” “10 Tips For Raising Outdoors-Loving Kids,” and “10 Tips For Getting Your Teenager Outdoors With You,” plus all of my stories about family adventures at The Big Outside.

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