Washington May 18, 2019
The Longest Lava Tube In The Country Is Right Here In Washington, And You Can Walk Through It
Washington is full of breathtaking natural wonders, and that includes some impressive remnants of our prehistoric past. The notorious Ape Cave is more than just a fun hike — it’s also the longest lava tube in the continental United States. If you’re looking for a great trail the whole family can experience, look no further.
The Ape Cave Trail is located in the South Cascades near Mt. St. Helens.
To reach it, take Exit 21 from I-5 and State Route 503, then go straight on Spur 50, which will become Forest Road 90. Turn left on FR 83, drive for 1.7 miles, then turn left on FR 8303. You'll see signs for the parking lot.
The caves were formed over 2,000 years ago, when Mt. St. Helens erupted and lava poured down the southern flank of the volcano.
You can walk through the caves in any season, but they're specially pleasant in the spring and summer.
The trail is about 3 miles in its entirely, the majority of which involves walking through the caves.
The caves themselves are just over 2 miles long.
After heading down the stairs, you'll be able to either hike the upper section or in the lower cave.
The upper section is a bit more challenging. The lower cave is easier and shorter at 0.8 miles.
The upper cave takes a few hours to fully explore.
It requires stepping over some sharp boulders and climbing an 8-foot wall. The lower section is a lot shorter and more spacious.
The caves are open to the public, but there are some rules.
No pets are allowed, you're not allowed to smoke or bring food, and you should try not to touch the walls and disrupt the cave slime, a food source in the cave’s delicate ecosystem.
Make sure you wear sturdy shoes and dress in layers.
Bring extra flashlights and headlamps so you don't lose visibility.
Have you explored the Ape Caves? They’re definitely one of Washington’s most