Boundary Trail

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Trail Distance: 33.2 miles
Time Estimate: 13 hr 40 min
Elevation Gain: 1000 feet
Leash Rule: On Leash
Difficulty: Hard
Parking: Free
Route Type: Out-and-back
Restroom: Yes
Description
The Boundary Trail in Gifford Pinchot National Forest is a pawrfect hike for doggos and their favorite humans who are looking for a challenging, but equally rewarding trek among the volcanic mountains of the South Cascades, especially at Mount Saint Helens National Volcanic Monument. The volcano looms above with its open caldera ominous from the south, and its Blast Zone fur-stonishing in its magnitude. Vegetation is beginning to return to the area in the form of stripling trees and beautiful wildflowers, but the devastation of the 1980 catastrophic eruption remains, as blown trees and feet of ash underfoot are everywhere.

Access to the Boundary Trail is via the Spirit Lake Memorial Highway (FR 504), where you'll find free parking and a trailhead. While there are no restrooms or water here, other interlinking trails provide them when conditions allow, particularly at the Coldwater Lake access area. Bring something to tote water, and clean up bags for the journey. Note also that some other intersecting access trails require either a Northern Pass or parking fee. Be sure to check prior to embarking. 

The narrow dirt Boundary Trail, which was once important as a route for horse-riding rangers on patrol, meanders through sub-alpine meadows and open forest, where it's possible you and Fido may spy coyotes, raptors and elk. Herds of elk can sometimes be seen passing across the tundra as you and your furry buddy watch from a ridge above. Be sure to keep a firm hand on the doggo's leash!

A portion of the trail passes along Johnston Ridge, from which you'll have pawsome views of several mountains including glimpses of Mount Hood, Mount Rainier and Mount Adams along with Mount Saint Helens. An observatory perches at the end of Johnston Ridge, but be aware that dogs are not permitted here. Winter hiking is pupular in this area when the roads are passable. Views of Spirit Lake and Coldwater Lake are lovely distractions as they reflect the craggy heights around them. 

Backpacking is permitted on this trail, and a shuttle from the end to bring you back to the trailhead allows for entry at several spots, such as Norway Pass or Hummocks Trail. Whatever you and the pooch are seeking, you'll find it here on the furtastic Boundary Trail!

Trail Features
Ice, Loose Terrain, Rocky, Steep Inclines, Forest, Lake, River, Mountains, Grassland
Abundant Wildlife, Wildflowers, Scenic
Cautions & Considerations
This trail features many steep ascents and descents along narrow ridges and over boulders. Watch for bicycles, motorcycles and horses on the west side of Bear Meadows, while the east side is restricted to hikers and their doggos. Ice and snow arrive early in the season and last until late April, so come prepared during those times.
Address
Spirit Lake Hwy (FR 504)
Cougar, WA 98616
Hours
Mon Sunrise - Sunset
Tue Sunrise - Sunset
Wed Sunrise - Sunset
Thu Sunrise - Sunset
Fri Sunrise - Sunset
Sat Sunrise - Sunset
Sun Sunrise - Sunset
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Address
Spirit Lake Hwy (FR 504)
Cougar, WA 98616
Hours
Mon Sunrise - Sunset
Tue Sunrise - Sunset
Wed Sunrise - Sunset
Thu Sunrise - Sunset
Fri Sunrise - Sunset
Sat Sunrise - Sunset
Sun Sunrise - Sunset