Climb Mount St. Helens

Beginners and experienced climbers alike can summit the 8,365-foot active volcano for spectacular views of the caldera and mountains beyond. Though strenuous, the climb is not technical and usually takes 7 to 12 hours round-trip. Mount St. Helens offers a wonderful opportunity to combine recreation and science in one amazing day of hiking.  This is a non-technical climb that any hiker in good condition can accomplish.  The spectacular climb takes a person through a beautiful evergreen/alder forest, over an ancient lava field and over 1.5 miles of volcanic ash to volcano’s rim where the climber peaks over into the steaming crater below.  The hiker sees layers from previous eruptions and the fresh dome created in the 2004-2008 eruption.  On clear days, the hiker is also treated to views of other volcanoes including Mt. Ranier, Mt. Adams, Mt. Hood and Mt. Jefferson.

Mount St. Helens erupted in 1980 with a spectacular show of nature’s power.  Almost 30 years later, the volcano has made several attempts to re-build itself, replacing almost 11% of the lost material through eruptive dome building.  After the eruption, people concluded that the barren landscape was dead but scientists have documented the area’s return to life and this re-growth is clearly visible from the volcano’s rim.  Climbing the volcano is a premier recreational event and is frequently the climber’s first summit experience. The USFS has limited the number of climbers to 100 per day, May 15-October 31.  Throughout the remaining portion of the year, climbing occurs on snow and therefore does little or no damage to the resource.  While climbing on one’s own offers no specific scientific experience, The Mount St. Helens Institute offers guided climbs with guides trained in biology, geology and environmental science.

  • Fee Required
  • Interpretive Signage
  • Guided Tours Available
  • Visitor Center on Site

Get more information on this area from

National Geographic