Bikepacking Mt. Saint Helens

This year, my bikepacking trip at Mt. Saint Helens went along the northern bikeable boundary, which is in the Mount Margaret backcountry. I had scouted the Norway Pass trailhead to be open to bikes on my bikepacking trip last year, and this year I called the monument headquarters to verify that the Boundary trail westwards to the Coldwater visitor center is indeed open, where my ride would pick me up. A couple good maps are here and here.  Trails that I rode / pushed were: Green River -> Strawberry Mountain -> Boundary -> Coldwater -> Lakes.

I had helped with the Lakes trail cleanup last year, but could see that its in need of some more TLC in the botany 101 area. However, a lot of work had recently been done on the Coldwater trail up to the saddle overlooking the Johnston Ridge Observatory – thanks!

To summarize: It’s basically a fairy-tale land up there. I stopped to take pictures so many times, and still felt like I should have taken more. Of course, many pictures looked quite similar in the end so I left them out of the slideshow below which still has 80 pictures. Campsites in this area must be reserved in advance, but with minimal planning-ahead I was able to stay at Bear Camp – which seems like it must be one of the best. I had unbelievable views of a herd of mountain goats including a screaming baby goat, Mt. Rainier and Mt. Saint Helens. I am so appreciative that these trails are open for bikes – thanks Mount St. Helens Monument managers! Of course, there were lots of dismounts and pushing on the trails and I only took a few pictures of that, but the slow pace seemed more appropriate for enjoying the fragile and beautiful landscape. I hope these trails will stay open to responsible mountain biking for a long time to come.

Here’s a GPX track of Mount Margaret Backcountry trails that would make an awesome overnighter. All decent singletrack, some HAB of course, with a short connector on a paved FS road. I left out painful stuff (i.e. upper portion of Green River to Strawberry Mountain and Strawberry mountain itself).

Click on one of the images to start the slideshow at that point.

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9 Responses to Bikepacking Mt. Saint Helens

  1. I like your pictures and could imagine eating some of those wild raspberries.

    • 2wheeltrails says:

      I think the ones you see in the picture of are salmon berries – just look ’em up. I didn’t snack on those as I wasn’t sure. The strawberries and blueberries were pretty good, but I didn’t have much luck with the patch of raspberries that is taking over the trail.

  2. sean says:

    great write up! I read this and your other boundary trail experience the year before and was exactly the info I was looking for! I plan on doing the boundary trail in completion this summer with a couple buds! Do you have strava or similar files you can link to me? Curious to know how long the stretch from Norway pass to Coldwater took you. Thanks!

    • 2wheeltrails says:

      Great idea. I hope you’ll have fun out there, I certainly did. I updated the post with a track that you can slice & dice of the Mount Margaret backcountry trails that are open to bikes. Since I upgraded Garmin Basecamp, many of my tracks lost elevation and timing information, so I can’t tell you exactly how long it took. But, I’d guess about 4-5 hours going east to west from Norway Pass to the Lake Trail trailhead. Mind you, I overnighted at Bear Camp. You need reservations for the 3 campgrounds up there, and I highly recommend staying overnight. It was a highlight of the trip.

  3. sean says:

    Excellent thanks for the info!

  4. Pingback: Mt. Saint Helens Bikepack #3 | 2wheeltrails

  5. Ryan says:

    How much biking and how much hiking did you do? Also, did you do all 60 miles in just two days from your gpx file!? If so, that’s crazy!

    • 2wheeltrails says:

      I created the GPX file if someone wants some ideas to explore the northern Mt. St. Helens area on bike. I’ve ridden almost all the trails except for an easy section on the Green River trail, but not in that order. I left out the ridiculous HAB stuff, but yes, there’s certainly hiking involved. It’s hard to quantify as I don’t keep track! Perhaps, you could count on ~20% of the time (not mileage) – depending on your circumstances. If I were riding this, I would do this as a single overnighter. YMMV.

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