Work to begin Saturday on Ape Cave viewpoint trail

By Al Thomas, Columbian Outdoors Reporter



COUGAR — Ground will be broken Saturday on a trail from Ape Cave parking lot to a new viewpoint of Mount St. Helens.

The approximately one-mile route is a joint effort between the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, Mount St. Helens Institute, and Washington Trails Association.

Saturday is National Public Lands Day, when entrance and day-use fees are not required at most Forest Service locations.

Lisa Romano, community engagement specialist for the Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument, said about 70 volunteers are registered to help Saturday on the south side of the volcano.

Other National Public Lands Day activities at Mount St. Helens will include invasive species removal, campsite cleanup, sign painting, and general maintenance of high-traffic day-use areas.

A second day of trail building will be scheduled later if the new route is not finished Saturday.

Mountain bike trail — The Forest Service has opened lower Lakes trail No. 211 along Coldwater Lake north of Mount St. Helens to mountain bike use.

Approximately 70 volunteers worked on the route in late August to make five miles of trail suitable for cycling from the trailhead at Coldwater Lake to the junction with Coldwater trail No. 230.

Workers from the Gifford Pinchot National Forest used a boat on the lake to stage tools for volunteers.

The first five miles of Lakes trail No. 211 mostly hugs the shore of scenic Coldwater Lake, created when the massive 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens dammed Coldwater Creek.

Mountain bike riding already is allowed on South Coldwater trail No. 230A.

Cycling advocates hope to build a two-mile connecting trail linking with trail No. 211 to make a loop.

Ken Sandusky, a Gifford Pinchot National Forest official in Vancouver, said the new mountain bike route is part of the agency’s shift to provide more recreation opportunities at Mount St. Helens.

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