COVID-19: At REI, we encourage you to get outside responsibly. Stay local, avoid recreational travel, practice social distancing and check ahead for area and facility closures. Learn More

Monitor Ridge Climbing Route

star-full star-full star-full star-full star-empty 4 (2)

One way

2.5 miles

4.0 km

Difficulty

Very Difficult

Elevation gain

3,580 ft

1,091 m

Highest point

8,278 ft

2,523 m

Avg grade

28% (15°)

Elevation loss

-21 ft

-6 m

Max grade

78% (38°)

Elevation loss

-21 ft

-6 m

Avg grade

28% (15°)

Lowest point

4,719 ft

1,438 m


Discover more hiking nearby

Mount St. Helens National Monument, WA

Getting there

Driving directions

Current weather


Shared by Chris Flashhard

Features

No Dogs  ·  Views

Overview

This is the primary hiking route for accessing the South Rim of Mount St. Helens. To do this hike you must have a permit, and those run out fast. We started this hike at 1:00am and completed it in 4 hours – yes it's that tough. So, what do you get for this hard work? An absolutely amazing view of the crater, dome, and surrounding area. I hear on a clear day you can see Rainier, Adams, Hood, and Portland as well.

In the first 2(ish) miles, you'll steadily gain about 1000 ft through a lovely pine forest. The next 2(ish) miles are tough going, navigating a boulder field while climbing another 2500 ft.

The last mile(ish) is best described as a slog up another 1000 ft on loose dirt, ash, and pumice.

Coming up at night and down in the relatively cool early morning, you'll easily burn through two quarts of water, and wish...
This is the primary hiking route for accessing the South Rim of Mount St. Helens. To do this hike you must have a permit, and those run out fast. We started this hike at 1:00am and completed it in 4 hours – yes it's that tough. So, what do you get for this hard work? An absolutely amazing view of the crater, dome, and surrounding area. I hear on a clear day you can see Rainier, Adams, Hood, and Portland as well.

In the first 2(ish) miles, you'll steadily gain about 1000 ft through a lovely pine forest. The next 2(ish) miles are tough going, navigating a boulder field while climbing another 2500 ft.

The last mile(ish) is best described as a slog up another 1000 ft on loose dirt, ash, and pumice.

Coming up at night and down in the relatively cool early morning, you'll easily burn through two quarts of water, and wish for a third. Any summer ascent up here should be made with a gallon per person, and from how fast it got warm at 8am, it must be roasting by afternoon.

Be realistic about your fitness – even at a slow pace, this is an extremely challenging hike.

Other than heaps of water, I recommend leather or garden gloves to save your hands through the boulder field, as these volcanic boulders can be very sharp! Hiking poles looked like they were helpful, though I didn't have any.

Gaiters are a necessity on this route to prevent volcanic debris from entering your shoes and shredding your feet.

Warm gear is a must for hanging out at the top if you arrive pre-sunrise and need to wait a bit; no matter what time of year, the wind up here is always cold...
All hikers must have a permit above Loowit #216: Ptarmigan - June Lake.

Contacts

Land Manager: USFS - Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument Office

Shared by Chris Flashhard

Know something about this hike?

If you see something that's missing or incorrect, let us know.

Photos Add photos

The gear you need to get outside.


Shop REI hiking

How was your hike?

Write a review and update conditions to let others know about your adventure.

Reviews & Conditions

star-full star-full star-full star-full star-empty
4 from 2 hikers

Very Difficult

Difficulty average from 3 hikers
1-3 of 3 reviews

Jul 3, 2019
Conditions: Dry - 6/30/19. 4.24mi to crater rim. Challenged even as avid CO hiker! 1.25mi of boulder field tough up and down! 21% avg grade.

Aug 31, 2018
Rated difficulty: Difficult
Did this ahead of summit climb

star-full star-full star-full star-full star-empty
Jul 11, 2018
Rated difficulty: Very Difficult
First time summit; cool And cloudy. Fog didn’t burn off until the descent. 5.5 hours going up; 3.5 hours to come down. Glissaded down—super fun!

REI Co-op Membership Logo

Become a lifelong REI Co‑op member

You not only join a welcoming community, you also get access to
members-only perks and special offers. Learn more

Looking for something different?

Explore area
explore area