Hike description: The Northern Boundary Trail is the premiere hike to observe the destruction from the May 1980 volcanic eruption at Mount St. Helens. Peer down into the gaping maw of the volcano as you cross the ridge at Norway Pass and imagine a wall of mud washing over you and leaving the deposit on the other side. The ridge ahead of you is washed clear of the trees that are now floating in Spirit Lake below. Follow the trail further and see Mount Rainier, Goat Rocks, Mount Adams, Mount Hood and Mount St. Helens. This is a steady climb for five miles. Summer and fall are both special times to experience this trail. The alpine flowers are abundant in July and August, leaving September the time for the fall colors and huckleberry picking.
Directions: When the landslide on Forest Service Road 25 at Benham Creek is stabilized, this is the preferred route: From Randle, drive south on Road 25 for about 22 miles to Road 99. Follow Road 99 for about nine miles to Road 26. Take Road 26 one mile to the Boundary Trail/Norway Pass trailhead. Alternatively, take Road 25 south from Randle about eight miles. After crossing the Cispus River, turn right/west on Road 26. Take Road 26 south, in 12 miles passing the junction with Road 2612 at the Ryan Lake Interpretive Site. Continue south on Road 26 to the Boundary Trail/ Norway Pass trailhead.
Difficulty rating: 4 (1 is easiest, 5 is most difficult)
Miles round-trip: 11 Elevation: 2,300 feet
Best time of year: July-September
Map: Green Trails No. 332 Spirit Lake and No. 333 McCoy Peak
Pass: Northwest Forest Pass
Also: Assume that both water and shade will be in short supply. Come prepared with an adequate water supply (with extra in the car at the trailhead), a sun hat and sunscreen. Green Trails Map No 333, McCoy Peak, shows the Forest Service roads. Info: For road and trail conditions: www.fs.fed.s/gpnf/recreation/currentconditions; Gifford Pinchot National Forest Cowlitz Valley Ranger District in Randle 360-497-1100; for national monument information, contact Johnston Ridge Observatory at 360-274-2140; and “100 Hikes in Washington’s South Cascades and Olympics” and “Day Hiking South Cascades,” both Mountaineers Books.