Wonderful Washington: Hike through over 2 miles of lava caves

Jan 30 2020, 1:20 pm

At over two miles in length, prepare to be amazed by the natural wonder of the Mount St. Helens Lava Tube, Ape Cave, the third-longest lava tube in North America. With volcanic rocks and slimy walls spanning 2.4 miles, you’re going to feel like you’ve transported to another planet.

The tube is accessible year-round and is a great spot for those interested in Sasquatch hunting — it’s said that the nearby Ape Canyon was the site of a family of Bigfoot back in 1924.

For your own safety, please make¬†sure you are prepared before heading out¬†on your next adventure. Information on how to prepare for your trip and stay safe while on your hike is available¬†from¬†waparks.org¬†and¬†parks.wa.gov.¬†Always remember to leave no trace, pack out what you pack in, stick to designated trails, and refrain from feeding wildlife ‚ÄĒ and please note that irresponsibly taken selfies (even if they look great for the ‚Äėgram)¬†can be fatal.¬†

 

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Where is it? 

Ape Cave is a National Volcanic Monument located in the Mount St. Helens National Monument in the South Cascades.

 

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How do you get there?  

Just a 3.5-hour drive from Seattle, follow highway 503 to the Mount St. Helens Visitor’s Center. The entrance to the cave is close to the parking lot. When you first get to a set of metal steps leading you the cave, you’ll notice that you’re smack-dab in the center of the cave with two choices: turn one way to visit the upper cave, which requires physical abilities of climbing, squeezing, and uphill hiking, or an easier route to the lower cave.

What’s there?¬†

If you choose to hike the Upper Cave, you’ll encounter frequent changes in geology and size of the lava cave. You’ll also get to scale rocks and notice lava-rock piles.

If you hike the Lower Cave, you’ll come across various floor textures and the Meatball — a piece of fallen lava that quite literally looks like a giant meatball.

While hiking Ape Cave, it’s important to remember to not collect any rocks or damage cave features, which includes touching the cave walls. According to the Washington Trails Association, the cave slime lives on the walls and is an important source of food for cave life.

Be sure to bring along a flashlight with two or three spare batteries as you journey through an exciting adventure filled with amazing natural rock sculptures, small corridors, and moss.

 

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