Sheep Canyon (Mt St Helens area) exploratory

Mt St Helens is one of my favorite hiking areas. The forecast for Sunday is sunny so let's celebrate the end of summer by hiking to Sheep Canyon. For those who use William Sullivan's 100 Hikes in Northwest Oregon and Southwest Washington, it is hike 22 on page 68 (difficult option -10.4 mile loop with 1900 feet elevation gain).

Starting at the Blue Lake Trailhead we will walk approximately 2.5 miles to reach a spectacular footbridge above Sheep Canyon's gorge. If we detour briefly, we will see a waterfall viewpoint. After another 1.5 miles, we will hit the Loowit Trail junction at the rim of the South Fork Toutle River's mudflow canyon. Another detour will give us a view of the river's tiered canyon to MSH. On the way back, we will climb the Loowit Trail up a long ridge into the 1980 blast zone and traverse the head of Sheep Canyon. From there we will continue back to the starting point.

Although I have been to MSH several times, I have not been to Sheep Canyon. Please be in good hiking shape before signing up for this hike. If the group wants to stop for refreshments after the hike, I am willing to do so.

The roundtrip mileage is approximately 115 miles ($12 to the drivers). A Northwest Forest Pass is required.

Directions to trailhead: Interstate 5 north to Woodland exit 21. Turn right for 27.7 miles following signs to Cougar. Half a mile before Cougar turn left onto Road 8100 at a sign for Merrill Lake. Follow the paved road for 11.5 miles and then continue straight on gravel Road 8123 for 1.5 miles to the Blue Lake Trailhead at the road's end.

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  • Zachary

    Sorry to bail on you, Barbara.

    September 22, 2013

  • Angela

    I'm looking at the weather forecast and deciding not to go :( may do a gorge hike instead.

    September 22, 2013

  • Jill M

    I just did 13 miles today and I'm feeling it so I'll relinquish my spot to someone who can take it but hope to do another one when the sun is shining and I'm feeling less gimpy.

    September 21, 2013

    • KRIS

      same here,

      September 22, 2013

  • Julien S.

    Will be coming with the Max. I should be there around 6:55.

    September 22, 2013

  • Rich

    Barbara, is this hike taking place rain or shine?

    September 19, 2013

    • barbara s.

      Rich, I have been keeping my eye on the weather..Obviously I would prefer sunny and warm for the hike so I will keep monitoring the forecast. Several times the forecast is wrong so I am hoping it changes.

      September 20, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Sunny!Where do you get your weather forecasts? National Weather Service is forecasting chance of rain, mostly cloudy with a high of 66.

    September 17, 2013

    • barbara s.

      Frank, for those who know me well, I am an eternal optimist.

      1 · September 18, 2013

  • Jill M

    Pretty slim chance - being #19 on the waitlist but it sounds like a great day/hike and if I can't be there in person, I'll be there in spirit .

    September 18, 2013

    • barbara s.

      Jill, everybody on the waiting list has an equal chance of getting on the hike. If a spot opens up all wait listed people receive a message to "act quickly... a spot opened up." If you see the message, try to be the first to reply.

      September 18, 2013

    • Jill M

      Great to know - thanks for pointing that out

      September 18, 2013

  • Chatchay Ramone de la M.

    I have beent there early this summer. It is beautiful and you do not want to miss it. Be safe and have fun. RSOE KORB!!!

    1 · September 17, 2013

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