Breaking Ground on a New Trail at Ape Caves
Last weekend, Washington Trails Association broke ground on a brand new trail near the popular Ape Cave trail. The focus of the new trail will be a viewpoint of the Mount St Helens.
Washington Trails Association volunteers, along with the Mount St. Helens Institute, broke ground on a brand new trail near the popular Ape Caves trail last weekend.
The focus of the new trail will be a Mount St. Helens viewpoint. The Monument has been researching how to preserve vistas and habitats around the volcano as trees grow up in and around the blast zone.
Old road turned trail
WTA is working with the Gifford Pinchot Forest Service on designing the trail. The new trail, tentatively named the Ape Cave Viewpoint Trail, follows an old road bed that was likely used for logging operations.
Road-to-trail conversion projects can have unique design challenges, including erosion management and creating a trail that doesn't feel like an old road. WTA's work at Beacon Rock State Park, where volunteers converted sections of an old road bed into a single-track trail, used many of the same practices that will be used in building at Ape Caves.
New view, better access, more parking
The new trail will end at the viewpoint, but the Forest Service is also planning an upper parking lot with a short ADA-accessible trail to the same viewpoint. The upper parking lot will serve as much-needed overflow parking from the main Ape Cave parking lot. The project is part of the Monument's five-year strategic plan that includes more recreation opportunities at Mount St. Helens.
WTA's planning and coordination for this project were supported by grant funds from the South Gifford Pinchot Resource Advisory Committee.
Depending on weather, the trail is expected to be completed and opened late next summer.