June Lake Snowshoe
The June Lake Trail is a beautiful hike any time of year, but exploring the trail on snowshoes, with the deep old forest, wide lake basin, and crashing waterfall all swaddled in a blanket of white, is the only way to enjoy the truly wild nature of the area. The trail is a gentle path through the woods, and snowshoers of all ages and abilities will appreciate and enjoy the remarkable beauty of the route.
Located on the south side of the big volcano, this trail doesn't delve into the blast zone, nor does the scenery make snowshoers think about the volcanic nature of the area. Indeed, if the eruption of 1980 comes to mind, it's usually in the context of "I can't believe an area this beautiful survived such a big eruption." The Mount St. Helens summit is visible along the trail to the lake, but looking up at the south flank of the mountain, with its snowy mantle of winter, it looks like just another big, beautiful peak. And June Lake is such a remarkable setting that it doesn't need the powerful imagery of the eruption to make it a wonderful snowshoeing destination.
From the Sno-Park, snowshoe north from the upper parking lot on the well-signed Pine Marten Trail No. 245E. This trail, which is often groomed for skiers, parallels the road, but it is off-limits to snowmobiles. (You can also hike up the road to the June Lake trailhead, but it is often crowded with speeding snowmobiles.) The trail heads north for 0.75 mile, and then hooks right (east) and dips down to join the road at 1 mile. After using the road bridge to cross the wide Lake Creek, turn left and snowshoe into the large parking area of the well-marked June Lake trailhead.
The trail leaves the north end of the broad lot and crosses a large meadow in full view of Mount St. Helens. The open, treeless slopes are painted stark white by the drifting snow, and most weekends when the weather is clear, snowshoers on the June Lake Trail can watch snowshoers and skiers climbing the Monitor Ridge route (see Route 97) to the summit of the volcano.
The trail stays well above Lake Creek as it climbs gradually through a few stands of second-growth forest and open clearcuts before finally crossing into the protected national monument at 2.4 miles. The last few hundred yards of trail dip steeply down to cross the creek on a wide bridge before rolling north to the shore of June Lake. Across the lake, on the right, is a waterfall cascading down through a curtain of interlaced icicles. The wide bench at the lakeshore makes a wonderful picnic spot with its spectacular views.
Please contribute $15.00 gas money to your driver and bring bag for wet boots.
Equipment recommended: 10 essentials, Snowshoes, Trekking poles, Gaiters , Warm clothing and warm gloves, Lunch/snacks/water
Disclaimer: We will be in the wilderness. Serious injury or death can occur. We are not professional guides nor do we claim to be experts. It is not our responsibility to get you to the listed destination. We hike at our own pace. By attending this hike you are assuming responsibility for your own personal safety and we will not be held responsible.
To get there, from Woodland drive east on State Route 503 to the community of Cougar and continue east another 7 miles to a junction with Forest Road 83. Turn left (north) onto FR 83, and drive 5.8 miles to the Marble Mountain Sno-Park at the end of the plowed road. Small maps of the local winter trails are generally available in the kiosk inside the warming hut at the Sno-Park.