From Cougar, Washington, drive east on Highway 503 (which becomes Forest Road 90) for 20 miles. Turn left on Road 9039 and follow this road for three quarters of a mile to the parking area located on the south bank of the river. Cross the bridge and continue past the Lewis River Campground to 0.3 miles past milepost 34. Turn left and follow the paved road (9075) for five miles to a fork. Turn right, and follow the gravel road 0.5 miles to its end and the trailhead.
*Note: I will eventually add to this trail description. The goal is to link this trail with the Quartz Creek trail to form one grand loop. This description here covers the first several miles.
The first mile and a half of this trail climbs somewhat steeply through a forest of tall Douglas Fir. Because of the slope and dense tree canopy above, underbrush is limited to ferns and a few smaller shrubs. A few small springs and creeks trickle down the hillside. Because this is a ridge-top hike with limited water, be prepared by carrying in your own water.
Once the rough work is through, the trail really gets good with the forest becoming more alpine. Snow can linger on the ridge into July, although hikers in mid June and July should not have too many trail-finding issues. Small glades allow Indian paintbrush, lupine, and Glacier Lily to bloom, while providing the first views of the surrounding mountains. Eventually the trail climbs completely to the ridgeline, offering views (although partially obstructed most of the time) of Mt. St. Helens, the Goat Rocks, Mt. Ranier, and especially close-up views of Mt. Adams. Views up the trail of the ridge itself also show some spectacular-looking alpine meadows and rugged peaks.
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I hiked this trial during Labor Day weekend 2011. This was a severe La Nina year and there was still ample snow. but finding the trail was easy. Amazingly, the lupine and lilies were still in bloom! Views are wildly overstated in most trail descriptions. This one is more accurate in that the mountain views are obstructed (highly). Also, the trail is frequently used by motor bikes so there are some deep ruts to contend with for the first half (the bikes can't get past some significant fallen trees higher up). Overall, a good hike to go on if you're in the Lewis River Valley.