Hike 36
The Gifford Pinchot National Forest
Independence Pass Overlook Hike
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THE FOLLOWING MAP IS NOT TO BE USED FOR NAVIGATIONAL PURPOSES.
Map of the Independence Pass, Spirit Lake Overlook Hike

Length: 5 Miles round trip
Elevation Change: 400' Elevation gain
Season: Summer thru Fall
Difficulty:   Moderate
Permit:   NW Forest Pass Required
Volcano Alert Call this number to see if this trail is closed:  360-449-7800

Note: This trail is often closed just beyond the overlook area.


Features:

Here is a little hike that has tons of beauty for the buck.... in other words, lots of value for little effort. This hike not only gives you outstanding vistas, but allows you to see close up just how devastating the explosion of Mt St Helens really was. The hike begins along Forest Road 99 and begins an immediate gentle climb.

In a short distance the trail breaks over the ridge and you are presented with excellent views of Mt St Helens and Spirit Lake. In the first half mile of this hike there are a number of signs and explanation boards to make your hike more interesting and informed.

Then the trail becomes more rustic and climbs gently toward Independence Pass. At a mile you will come to the junction of Trail #227A. Continue on, bearing to the left as the trail continues. Along this part of the trail, you will be presented with outstanding views of Mt St Helens, Spirit Lake, and even Mt Hood in the far distance.



Mt St Helens rises above Spirit Lake as seen from the Independence Pass trail of the Mt St Helens National Volcanic Area
Mt St Helens rises above Spirit Lake
How to get there:

From Woodland, WA
From Woodland follow SR 503 and the Lewis River Road for about 48 miles to the community of Cougar, WA. From Cougar, continue east on the Lewis River Road which will turn into Forest Road 90 after you enter the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. In about 18.5 miles you will come to the junction of Forest Road 25. Forest Road 90 makes a right turn, downhill at this junction, but you will need to continue straight ahead on what is now FR25. Follow FR25 north for approximately 25 miles, passing the Cedar Flats Natural Area, and the junction to Forest Road 93, which takes you to the Craggy Peak hike and the Hat Rock Overlook hike, past Elk Pass and the junction of Forest Road 28 which leads to the Craggy Peak hike, and finally you will come to Forest Road 99 on your left, which is the road that leads to the Windy Ridge side of the Mt. St. Helens National Volcanic Monument and many hikes.

From Carson, WA
If however, you plan to approach this hike from the Columbia River Gorge area, then begin at Carson, Washington and head northwest on the Wind River Hwy. In 7.5 miles you will pass through the little community of Stabler, and in another 5.8 miles you will come to the junction of Forest Road 30. Turn right onto FR30 and follow this road for 13.2 miles north along the Wind River and then up a steep incline and onto a plateau where you will come to the junction of the Curly Creek Road. Turn left onto the Curly Creek Road and follow it downhill past an excellent view area for about 5.1 miles until you come to Forest Road 90. Turn left onto FR90 and follow it for about 4.1 miles. You will descent to and cross the Lewis River then come to the junction with Forest Road 25. Make a sharp right turn onto FR25. Follow FR25 north for approximately 25 miles, passing the Cedar Flats Natural Area, and the junction to Forest Road 93, which takes you to the Craggy Peak hike and the Hat Rock Overlook hike, past Elk Pass and the junction of Forest Road 28 which leads to the Craggy Peak hike, and finally you will come to Forest Road 99 on your left, which is the road that leads to the Windy Ridge side of the Mt. St. Helens National Volcanic Monument and many hikes.

From Randle, WA
Go south out of Randle on SR 131, cross the Cowlitz River, and you will come to Forest Road 23 on your left. Stay on SR 131 heading south and soon this road will become Forest Road 25. Continue south on FR25 for almost 20 miles and you will come to Forest Road 99 on your right.

From junction of FR25 and FR99
After turning onto Forest Road 99, you will climb westward for about 9 miles before coming to Forest Road 26 on your right, which takes your to the Norway Pass TH and the Goat Mtn TH. You continue on for a very short distance, and you will pass the trailhead for the Meta Lake hike. Continue along FR99 for about 3 miles and you will pass the trailhead for the Independence Pass hike.



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A Virtual Hike of the Mt. St. Helens National Volcanic Monument


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