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Ryan Lake

South Cascades


South Cascades -- Mount St. Helens
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0.7 miles, roundtrip


Gain: 165 ft.
Highest Point: 3465 ft.


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Parking Pass/Entry Fee

Northwest Forest Pass

What was once a nice, short loop hike for families on the east side of Mount St. Helens National Volcanic monument has been lost to downed trees and heavy brush. Thankfully, the lake is still visible from an overlook partway up.

Like so much of the rest of the landscape, this area was devastated by the 1980 blast. Three campers staying here lost their lives. But while much of the area around Ryan Lake was opened to salvage logging afterwards, Ryan Lake was allowed to remain in its natural, post-blast state to recover.

A short trail used to climb the hill to the south of the lake, offering views of the lake and a nice leg-stretching loop for families visiting the monument. But the Forest Service no longer performs maintenance here, and the bathrooms are sporting a sign that says “Permanently Closed”.

For now, visitors can content themselves with a peek at the interpretive signs at the parking area, and the intrepid can head uphill on the 0.3 miles that haven’t yet been reclaimed by nature. There’s still a nice little overlook of the lake, which offers a better vantage point than that from the parking area. But for the most part, this trail has been restored to a fully natural state. 

WTA Pro Tip: Meta Lake, just down the road, offers a similar hiking experience (roughly the same length of trail to a lake). If you’re still jonesing for some a short hike, try that.


Ryan Lake

Map & Directions

Co-ordinates: 46.3518, -122.0637 Open map in new window


South Cascades -- Mount St. Helens

Ryan Lake (#222)

Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument

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Guidebooks & Maps

Day hiking: Mount St. Helens (Romano and Theisen – Mountaineers Books)

National Geographic Mount St. Helens Mount Adams Gifford Pinchot National Forest

Buy the Green Trails Mount St. Helens NVM No. 332S map

Getting There

From Randle, turn south (right) onto State Route 131 for 2 miles, where it becomes FR 25. Drive this road, crossing the Cispus River on a bridge, and stay right for FR 26, heading uphill. Proceed on this rough and narrow road (single lane with turnouts occasionally), for 12.5 miles. Just past the junction with FR 2612 (which offers access to Goat Mountain and Green River), turn right into the small parking area for Ryan Lake.

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

Northwest Forest Pass

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Ryan Lake

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