Tuesday morning we took a short drive up Spirit Lake Highway in Castle Rock to the Mount St. Helens Visitor Center. We skipped the visit to the center and went straight for the hiking trail! The picture above was taken about halfway through our hike, and you can see the mountain in the center. I really should invest in something other than my phone to take pictures with, but it’s just so convenient!
After researching the hike online a bit, I was expecting most of it to be out in the sun, so I made everyone wear their sun hats! We started the hike around 10:00 am and there was more shade throughout the entire hike than I had expected, so that was a nice surprise!
The hike meanders through the trees in the beginning, and then opens up to a long boardwalk over the water. We found a school of tiny fish, many dragonflies, and saw several red-winged blackbirds (a favorite that we discovered on our Ridgefield hike).
You can’t see it in the picture, but there was a heron standing out in the grassy part of the water. This was such a beautiful hike! The trails are beautifully maintained making it perfect to bring along a stroller if you have younger kids.
The hike was only 0.72 miles, which made for a quicker trip than I had anticipated. If you are looking to stretch it out a bit longer, there is a pedestrian tunnel that goes under the highway to Seaquest State Park where there are more trails through the forest. We finished the hike in 40 minutes with a total moving time of 31:48. Our average speed for this hike was 1.36 mph and our max speed was 3.36 mph.
After our hike, we stopped to use the bathrooms at the visitor center, then had lunch at a picnic table near the parking lot and were joined by a couple of furry friends. There were squirrels and chipmunks begging for dropped morsels of PB&J sandwiches. It was great entertainment for the kids!
On the way home we stopped for a donut treat at the Castle Rock Bakery. They have THE BEST maple bars! I highly recommend taking this hike just so you can treat yourself to some baked goods afterwards!