3-4hrs, 8.0 miles roundtrip
Elevation gain: reports say about 200ft, but it’s definitely over 500ft…
Distance from Vancouver: 476 km
I did this hike solo on the October long week-end and got lucky with some blue sky and barely any clouds. The trailhead is at the end of the parking lot at the Johnston Ridge Observatory – but you can also access is from the Observatory if you go up the paved path to the view point and then down on the other side. You need to first follow the indications for Boundary Trail that will take you into the blast zone of the volcano eruption. Everything around is really dry so bring enough water. It is also really windy and a bit exposed in some areas.
Once you are on Boundary Trail keep following the main path. You will reach a point where you will have to follow the right hand side of a hill while facing St. Helens – this traverse is quite steep and definitely not recommended if you are really afraid of heights… that said – if you take your time it is quite stable and absolutely worth it!
On the other side you will go back down a bit and cross a sign that leads to the lower trails heading directly toward St. Helens – definitely something I want to do once but you will need a full day hike for those ones. Keep left at the fork and go further down. Now you will be seeing in front of you and on your right Harry’s Ridge. Follow the trail as it heads back up on the left, cross the little bridge, and you will see another sign where the trail splits up again. Harry’s Ridge is on your right, going all the way up and leading to incredible views of St. Helens, Mt. Adams, Mt. Hood (if clear – it was for me, yay!), and the Spirit Lake at the bottom.
Come back the way you arrived, and take some time to visit the Observatory! This history, biology and geology of this place is incredible and impressive – totally worth immersing yourself in it!