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Ape Canyon to Plains of Abraham - IMBA EPIC

 4.7 (68)
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Map Key

16.8 Miles 27.0 Kilometers



2,423' 739 m


-2,423' -738 m



Avg Grade (3°)


Max Grade (17°)

4,556' 1,389 m


2,915' 889 m




Getting forecast...

An amazing journey back in time to the scene of the Mt. St. Helens eruption.

Anthony Harasimowicz

Dogs Leashed

Features -none-


This ride initially takes you up the secluded but strenuous Ape Canyon Trail before continuing to the upper trail segments. As you ride along the canyon near the top of the climb, the views and terrain transform from shady forest to an amazing moonscape. The balance of the ride is across the vast pumice fields on the Loowit and Plains of Abraham trails at the base of Mt. St. Helens with views of several other peaks as well.


Starting from the small parking area at the Ape Canyon trailhead off of FS 83, begin climbing up the shady singletrack of the Ape Canyon Trail (#234). As you head up the trail and turn to the right, the first views of Mt. St. Helens are straight ahead looking from the south. Continue to climb up the well-traveled trail with a few switchbacks and sporadic views of the mountain.

Near the top of the climb, pass the steep slopes and rocky exposure of Ape Canyon on the right with a perfect view of Mt. Adams to the east. Next, ride through the moonlike pumice fields on a short stretch of the Loowit Trail (#216) and toward Pumice Butte where you'll see the remnants of trees that resemble pushed over matchsticks. Continue north to the Plains of Abraham Trail (#216D) with incredible up close views of Mt. St. Helens eastern slope.

Signposts note the trail junctions and mileage and dark volcanic rock cairns help identify the route. The trail climbs and descends along a hillside ridge to Windy Ridge Road (FS 99), but a good turnaround point is at the long staircase just south of the road. Before starting the return trip, catch a view to the north of the top of Mt. Rainier and then enjoy the downhill run on the Ape Canyon Trail.

History & Background

It was early Sunday morning on May 18, 1980 when Mt. St. Helens erupted and leveled nearly 230 square miles of forest and sent 520 million tons of ash eastward across the United States. This scenic ride takes to the scene of that devastation and straight into the blast zone.


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Your Check-Ins


Oct 21, 2018
Juancho BP
Sep 21, 2018
Justin Theilman
Aug 23, 2018
Corbin Dunn
Aug 21, 2018
Corbin Dunn
Did about four and a half miles out and came back before the big climb. Lots of smoke out so it was hard to see any good views. Riding back was better
Jul 29, 2018
Oliver Bradtke
Jul 11, 2018
Adam Yeo
Jul 7, 2018
Mike Collins
Jun 17, 2018
Michael Johnson

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Trail Ratings

  4.7 from 68 votes


  4.7 from 68 votes
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in Washington


609 Views Last Month
53,524 Since Nov 21, 2013
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Keri Warner
Boise, ID
Keri Warner   Boise, ID
This was the hardest mtn bike ride I've ever done, but also the most rewarding. It took 6 hrs for my husband and I to do because I'm overweight so I had to stop after every incline. I did do a lot of walking on the steeper sections since I couldn't make it up them. Even though I had a difficult time on the way up, all of the frustration melted away once we were up by the mtn. What an experience! Apr 2, 2017
One of my favorites and I hope to get back there this season. The climb is long and tough for some but the views are fantastic and the plains are like riding on the moon. I turned around a few miles into the plains and had a blast on the long decent. Nothing very technical on this ride - it is lower intermediate and the initial climb was the hardest part. Apr 5, 2018
Matt Deniston
Portland, OR
Matt Deniston   Portland, OR
Definitely one of top 5 rides within 3 hrs drive from Portland. This trail, despite being an out-and-back, has a tremendous variety of terrain and trail. Sep 4, 2018

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