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Meta Lake

South Cascades


South Cascades -- Mount St. Helens
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0.6 miles, roundtrip


Gain: 0 ft.
Highest Point: 3625 ft.


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Parking Pass/Entry Fee

Northwest Forest Pass

This very short and flat interpretive trail offers a wonderful way to take in the sights and sounds of a small lake still recovering from the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens. 

The paved path that leads from the parking area diverges, but it hardly matters which one you take — they connect a few feet down the way, just before a small interpretive sign. Birds sing, bugs buzz, and look down; you might spot a toad or newt crawling along. 

The trail head into a small section of forest, providing some welcome shade on a hot day. You'll arrive at the lake before you know it. But if you're there in spring, you may not be able to get to the viewing platform. Spring flooding puts this underwater, and the water recedes as the summer progresses. 

Stay for a while, listening to the wildlife around you, then head back to the trailhead. 

If you're feeling like another very short outing, cross a creek just east of the trailhead marker, and follow the path to the Miner's Car interpretive site (you can also drive a very short way down the road to this location). This sobering sight shows a car, destroyed by the force of the 1980 eruption of St. Helens. Since this trail is situated on the north side of the mountain, it was in the direct path of the blast. 

57 people died in the eruption, many of them camping miles away and assuming they were safe from harm. Read more about the effects of the eruption and how the mountain is recovering in our 2015 interview with a local hydrologist, Carolyn Driedger.


Meta Lake

Map & Directions

Co-ordinates: 46.2960, -122.0782 Open map in new window


South Cascades -- Mount St. Helens

Meta Lake (#210)

Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument

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Getting There

From Randle, drive Highway 131 south for two miles. Here, it becomes Forest Road 25, which you will drive for 17.5 miles, then turn right onto Forest Road 99. Drive on FR 99 for 9.5 miles to the well-signed Meta Lake Interpretive Site. 

If you're coming from Woodland, you'll drive Highway 503 east for 29 miles to the town of Cougar. Continue east for 18.5 miles. (During this portion, 503 becomes FR 90). Turn left onto FR 25, and drive it 25 miles north to FR 99. Proceed down 99 for 9.5 miles to the well-signed Meta Lake trail. 

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

Northwest Forest Pass

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Meta Lake

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