North America Travel

Fall Hike in Mount Saint Helens

We usually do our mountain hikes at Mount Rainier, it’s about an hour and half from our summer home in Washington. But we decided to venture a bit further, and drove the two and half hours to Mount Saint Helens National Monument for a fabulous Fall Hike in Mount Saint Helens.

Mount Saint Helens

May 18, 1980

I was in college in May of 1980 when Mount Saint Helens blew her top. It’s a day I will never forget. One of those “where were you” moments. Fifty-seven people died, the entire region was ravaged and the landscape was forever changed.

Spirit Lake with Mount Adams in the distance

It’s been probably twenty years since I was in the national monument, and I was astonished to find how scared it still is. It’s a testament to both the power of the earth and the rebirth of nature. I stand in awe at this mountain, as I do for all the mountains in the great State of Washington.

Johnston Ridge

Fall colors

We drove to the Johnston Ridge Observatory to begin our hike. Named for David Johnston, a 30-year-old volcanologist with the U.S. Geological Survey, who was swept away by the catastrophic eruption of Mount St. Helens on the morning of May 18, 1980.

At the observatory there is plenty of parking and a visitor center. This is the start of several hikes. We decided to do Harry’s Ridge Hike.

At the top of Harry’s Ridge overlooking Spirit Lake

Harry’s Ridge

Named for Harry R. Truman (October 30, 1896– May 18, 1980) was an American businessman, bootlegger, and prospector. He lived near Mount St. Helens, an active volcano in the state of Washington, and was the owner and caretaker of Mount St. Helens Lodge at Spirit Lake near the base of the mountain. Truman came to fame as a folk hero in the months leading up to the volcano’s 1980 eruption after refusing to leave his home despite evacuation orders. He was killed by a pyroclastic flow that overtook his lodge and buried the site under 150 ft (46 m) of volcanic debris. (source Wikipedia)

The trail is well maintained by dry and dusty

The Ridge is an out and back 7.5 mile hike with fabulous views of of Spirit Lake and Mount Saint Helens. In the fall the area is covered in colorful red bushes (blueberries) and other low growing foliage, creating a beautiful Fall Hike in Mount Saint Helens. This hike offers almost no shade and can be very hot and dusty. Bring more water than you think you will need.

Picnic lunch on Harry’s Ridge

Visit Mount Saint Helens

There is so much to do in the beautiful area from hiking and camping to fishing and sight-seeing. Learn more about Mount Saint Helens here.

Hail Mount Saint Helens

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Read about our favorite Day Hikes in the Pacific Northwest here.

See last week’s post Year Eight of The Grand Adventure Begins

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  • Reply Annie

    I took a (distant) photo of Mount St Helens in the late 1970s while on a Greyhound trip around the US. Obviously, I didn’t know then that it would be a significant place. I was there in September, and remember the incredibly warm dry winds – so I’m not surprised at your saying about it being very hot and dusty.
    Back then, it didn’t occur to me to keep a written diary – as a teenager, you don’t realise that time will dull the details of memories.

    November 19, 2022 at 12:35 am
    • Reply Laureen

      Sounds like its time for another USA trip for you Annie!!! 🙂

      November 19, 2022 at 8:31 am
  • Reply sue

    What a gorgeous hike but also very poignant. I remember when Mount St Helens blew & it was interesting to hear you share the stories of the people who have these landmarks named after them. Brings a real human element to the hike. Thanks for sharing & agree – truly shows the power & destruction that nature can inflict.

    November 19, 2022 at 5:03 am
    • Reply Laureen

      thanks Sue. As a Washingtonian it is a very powerful landmark and memory.

      November 19, 2022 at 8:32 am
  • Reply Linda (LD Holland)

    We have visited the west coast several times and not done a hike at either Mount Rainier or Mount Saint Helens. A good reason to head south from BC and spend some time in Washington. We could certainly handle the 7.5 mile hike on the Ridge for those amazing views.

    November 19, 2022 at 7:26 am
    • Reply Laureen

      You guys would eat it up and Mount Rainier too…she’s my fav.

      November 19, 2022 at 8:32 am
  • Reply Heather

    This looks amazing, and I always love following your adventures! Those views look spectacular.

    November 19, 2022 at 9:59 am
    • Reply Laureen

      thanks my friend!

      November 19, 2022 at 5:58 pm
  • Reply Ava

    Way back in the 70s, when I used to fly from southern California to Washington, the pilot would usually fly over Mt. Saint Helens and give a narration about the area. Hard to imagine the devastation that occurred in 1980. It looks like you had a beautiful day for this hike.

    November 19, 2022 at 11:09 am
    • Reply Laureen

      Cool story. It looks so different after the eruption.

      November 19, 2022 at 5:58 pm
  • Reply Renee

    It must have been a marvel to connect the memory you had from the 80s to eventually being able to climb it. I’ve seen it off in the distance when in BC, and it’s an impressive view. It sounds like it is a hike that is accessible to many, and you can’t beat those views!

    November 23, 2022 at 1:04 am
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