Hiking Lava Canyon

This week, we take you to explore the Lava Canyon Suspension Bridge near Cougar, WA.  Located 75 miles away from Portland, Lava Canyon and Ape Cave are often hiked together for a family friendly day trip.

Lava Canyon was formed over 3500 years ago when a lava flow descended down the Muddy River Canyon from a Mt. St. Helens eruption.  Over time, the Muddy River cut a channel in the lava rock, creating the canyon.  For centuries, the canyon filled with sediment until the 1980 eruption, when the Shoestring Glacier quickly melted and roared down the mountain in a gigantic lahar flow cleaning out the canyon sediment to show the canyon in its present state.

There are three difficulty levels to the trail.  The first path leads 0.4 miles down a paved path to an overlook with interpretive signs.  The trail then transitions to a rocky 0.5 mile loop that crosses a suspension bridge over the canyon waterfalls.   This 1.3 mile loop is perfect for families.  The third option is for experienced adults and takes hikers down a narrow path next to cliff edges for a view of the waterfalls cascading through the canyon.

Ten miles away from Lava Canyon is Ape Cave, another family friendly adventure, and most visitors will do both activities on the same day.  Ape cave has a 0.75 mile hike from the main entrance to a dead end.  To view our adventure visit: Exploring Ape Cave

This episode was one the the first ones we made, and it shows.  We have gotten a lot better, I promise.  This video is one of three slated for a makeover before we start our next season. 

Our Video

Our Tips for Visiting

  • The parking lots fill up quickly during the summer months or warm weekends.  As always, I prefer to go on the off-season or during the weekdays with the decreased crowds.
  • As seen in the video, there are numerous warnings about deaths from leaving the trail.  Keep your kids close and follow the posted signs to stay safe.
  • A recreation pass or day use fee are required to visit and park here.
  • Check the website link below to check the road and trail status.  During the winter, the roads may be closed or the trail may be shut down due to fallen trees or rocks.


More information about Lava Canyon can be found at USFS.

If you enjoyed our video and think your friends would like it, we would love for you to share it using one of the buttons below.  If you are interested in coming along with us on all of our travels, you can join us on FacebookYouTubeInstagramWordPress or via e-mail.  Thanks for exploring with us!

© Divergent Life Media, LLC


5 Comments on “Hiking Lava Canyon

  1. I received an error when I tried to watch this. Will watch it on our main computer.



  2. I know Kristy was glad you kept the boys safe! What an amazing trail! Thanks for filming that. I don’t think a cane would get you very far on that. What alot of care was taken in making that public!!



  3. Pingback: Exploring Ape Cave | a divergent life

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