Hiking a new family-friendly trail at Mount St. Helens

The popular Ape Cave recreation area in the Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument now has a view of the iconic mountain. The Volcano View Trail is the first new trail built in the national monument in nearly two decades.

Since last year, trail volunteers have been building the milelong trail, which takes hikers up to a viewpoint from the Ape Cave headquarters/visitor center, on the south side of the mountain.

Monument officials expect the new trail will alleviate the long lines to the Ape Cave — with 60,000 visitors annually — since hikers now have another trail to explore if the main attraction is overcrowded. A one-mile trail isn’t a destination hike, but combined with other trails nearby it should make for an attractive family-friendly day trip.

All those complaints from young and first-time hikers: The trail is too long. It’s too hot. It’s boring hiking in the woods. If your kids checked all the above, the Ape Cave is for you. Ape Cave, billed as the longest lava tube in the continental United States, makes this area the second-most-visited in the national monument, after Johnston Ridge Observatory.

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