Hiking at Mount St. Helens is unlike any other experience in Washington. It’s haunting, beautiful, fascinating and downright awesome. And I say that in the truest sense of the word – it leaves you in awe of Mother Nature. The hike to Harry’s Ridge provides stunning views, a nice workout, and a journey through the unique landscape.
First off, I want to provide a brief history lesson. Mount St. Helens famously erupted on May 18, 1980. The explosion devastated the surrounding area and killed 57 people, including a crotchety curmudgeon named Harry Truman. He was the owner and caretaker of Mount St. Helens Lodge at Spirit Lake, and he stubbornly refused to evacuate his home despite the pending eruption. This hike – Harry’s Ridge – is named after him.
Now to the hike itself. Harry’s Ridge is a 8.2-mile round trip adventure with a 970-foot elevation gain. It starts from the Johnston Ridge Observatory parking lot along No. 1 Boundary Trail, and you actually stay on this path for quite a while. The trail eventually goes downhill and comes to a Y. You want to keep left at the Y and continue on until you take a right turn onto No. 1E Harry’s Ridge. The trail is relatively short, but the views are amazing. As you climb the ridge, you can see Spirit Lake off to the left and Mount Adams in the distance. Once you reach the summit of Harry’s Ridge, there’s a stellar view of Mount St. Helens.
I’m sure hiking to Harry’s Ridge is amazing anytime of the year, but it was especially beautiful when my dad and I were there in early July (we were there July 5th to be exact). The wildflowers were out in full force. It’s amazing to see such beautiful colors spread around a barren landscape that still exists nearly 40 years after the eruption.
Whenever you choose to hike Harry’s Ridge, be sure to bring plenty of water with you (especially in the summer). Since all of the trees near Mount St. Helens were blown down during the eruption, cover is hard to find. Don’t forget plenty of sunscreen and a hat as well. I don’t want to sound like your dad, but I can’t emphasize this enough — come prepared for the elements.
No, Mount St. Helens isn’t close to Seattle. The drive to Johnston Ridge Observatory is 155 miles from the Emerald City. But with that said, it’s totally worth visiting – whether you’re local or a tourist. It’s a rare opportunity to walk through history. In fact, I’m struggling to find words to describe the experience. You just have to see it for yourself, and Harry’s Ridge is the place to do that.
Have you ever hiked Harry’s Ridge? How was your experience? We’d love to hear from you! Please leave a comment below or connect with us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Don’t forget to also check out Seattle Bloggers for more great places to visit around the Emerald City!