Home  •   Field Guide  •   Forums  •    Unread Posts  •   Maps  •   Find a Hike!
| Page | Discussion | View source | History | Print Friendly and PDF

Cinnamon Ridge Loop Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

Mt. St. Helens and Butte Camp Dome from Cinnamon Ridge (bobcat)
The Kalama River near McBride Lake (bobcat)
Stiff clubmoss (Lycopodium annotinum), Cinnamon Ridge (bobcat)
Goat Mountain from Cinnamon Ridge (bobcat)
Hollow Douglas-fir on the Cinnamon Trail (bobcat)
GPS track of loop in red (Karl E. Peterson)
  • Start point: Kalama Horse Camp TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End Point: Red Rock Pass
  • Trail Log:
  • Hike Type: Loop
  • Distance: 14.1 miles
  • Elevation gain: 2950 feet
  • High Point: 4,000 feet
  • Difficulty: Difficult
  • Seasons: Summer into Fall
  • Family Friendly: No
  • Backpackable: No
  • Crowded: No

Contents

Description

The Cinnamon Trail is a hiker/horse/mountain bike route that runs along the first ridge south of Mount Saint Helens. As a result, there are a number of expansive viewpoints looking across to the south slopes of the volcano, Mount Adams, Mount Rainier, and closer features, such as Goat Mountain and Butte Camp Dome. The 8 ¼ mile trail is best done as a loop with the easy Toutle Trail, the latter running along the Kalama River to McBride Lake and thence up to Red Rock Pass, where the Cinnamon Trail will take you back to the trailhead. In addition to the views, there are several notable stands of old growth (Douglas-fir, western hemlock, noble fir) along both trails and the ridge itself is an elk haven from the beginning of summer into fall.

  • The Toutle Trail leg of the hike, along the Kalama River, is 5.8 miles with 1250' elevation gain, west to east.
  • The Cinnamon Trail, along the ridge, is 8.3 miles with 1700' elevation gain, east to west.


Three trails leave the trailhead. Take the middle one for the Toutle Trail #238 (To the right is the Camp Loop Trail and to the left is the Fossil Trail). Drop down and cross a creek on a footbridge. Reach the Toutle-Cinnamon Trail West Junction and keep left. Hike through a mossy carpet with scattered huckleberry bushes under a canopy of Douglas-fir and western hemlock.

Pass the Toutle-Kalama Ski Trail West Junction and continue through peaceful woodland on a deep, soft Mt. St. Helens lahar. Cross a dry wash and see the alder-rimmed Kalama River flowing to your right. The trail rises gradually; lots of coral mushrooms and poisonous amanitas emerge here in the fall. Get a view of the river criss-crossed with numerous downed trees where the spate has eroded the soft banks. Switchback up from the river to the top of a bluff and the Toutle-Kalama Ski Trail Middle Junction. Continue along the high bluff on the Toutle Trail, hiking on a carpet of moss and reindeer lichen. Pass three large slide areas that deposit directly into the Kalama. Reach the Toutle-Kalama Ski Trail East Junction.

You will pass a large campsite area on your left and cross FR 8022, which you will meet again when you hike the Cinnamon Trail. Gradually gain elevation along the river, passing some big Douglas-firs. Reach the Toutle Trail-600 Spur Road Junction and head right for 50 yards, crossing the river and resuming the trail on its south bank. Reach the wetland area of McBride Lake and get your first big view of Mount Saint Helens. Big storms over the past couple of decade have brought down thick deposits of volcanic debris that have all but filled in the lake itself and killed a few acres of conifers on its north shore. Sitka alder and willow form a dense thicket on some of the new deposits.

The trail continues below a dripping cliff face along a tributary of the Kalama. There are a couple of small waterfalls descending the rock face here. Rise away from the bottomland in a forest of hemlock, cedar, silver fir, and Douglas-fir, noting some large specimens of the latter. The track undulates along, now passing some magnificent noble firs. Hike along a slope colonized by extensive thickets of vine maple and head in and out of shallow gullies. Cross more little creeks, getting some partial views back to Goat Mountain. The trail makes a rising traverse crossing more vine maple and Sitka alder slopes interspersed with stands of giant noble fir. Get some views to the Red Rock Pass lava field as you descend to the unsigned Toutle-Cinnamon Trail East Junction. This junction is about 200 yards above the Red Rock Pass Trailhead.

Turn right and head uphill into old growth slope forest dominated by big nobles and hemlocks. Switchback up twice and make a traverse before switchbacking again in younger silver and noble fir woods. Make five more switchbacks on a somewhat eroded trail to reach an expansive viewpoint of Mount Saint Helens, the Indian Heaven ridgeline, and Mount Adams.

From here, the trail drops through regenerating woodland, crosses an old road bed, and undulates along the ridge crest. Reach another viewpoint before dropping into much younger forest, which transitions sharply to unlogged old growth. Switchback down once and take the rutted track down to a saddle. Head up, switchbacking twice in regenerating forest, to get more views of Goat Mountain and Butte Camp Dome. Hike behind a forested knoll and drop to cross a grassy slope on a rutted trail with views south to Cinnamon Peak. Reach another viewpoint on the ridge crest and then enter old growth woods again. Cross a creek and pass under a rock face of platy andesite. Rise to another splendid viewpoint on the ridge and then, still ascending, cross three roads in succession. Make a traverse and then rise through more old growth, passing a massive hemlock and then a junction from a trail that leads to a road end. Keep left and drop to another viewpoint of Mount Saint Helens with Coldwater Peak and Mount Rainier visible over its western shoulder.

Descend two short switchbacks in and out of a gully and pass a completely hollow Douglas-fir that still sports a full head of foliage! Pass through a former clearcut and then back into old growth. Keep switchbacking down, crossing a road bed and then FR 8022. Switchback down and cross a creek before reaching alder-lined FR 8022 again. Take the spur road opposite, passing a disintegrating gate, cross a creek, and take a 180-degree curve through a rock slide area before reaching the end of the road spur and resuming the Cinnamon Trail.

Switchback down in lovely old growth forest of western hemlock, Douglas-fir, and western red-cedar with a carpet of vanilla leaf, thimbleberry, deer fern, and sword fern. Cross a couple of small creeks and pass through an old clearcut above the Kalama River. Make a lengthy passage along a bluff high above the river to reach a shortcut trail to the Kalama Falls Trail. The Cinnamon Trail drops below the bluff crest here and then rises to the unsigned Cinnamon-Kalama Falls Trail Junction. Keep right, and continue long the bluff until you switchback down to the wide bridge across the Kalama. The trail rises from here and reaches the Toutle-Cinnamon Trail West Junction in short order. Go left to reach your car at the Kalama Horse Camp Trailhead.

Note: The Kalama River is named after John Kalama, one of several hundred native Hawaiians (“Owyhees”) who came to the Pacific Northwest from the 1820s to 1840s to work under John McLoughlin for the Hudson’s Bay Company. John worked at Fort Nisqually and, like many of his countrymen, married into the local tribe. He eventually settled with his family at the mouth of the Kalama, which was named for him after he drowned there. Not many people are aware that a large number of Northwest Native Americans have strong Polynesian bloodlines!

Fees, Regulations, etc.

  • Northwest Forest Pass required at trailhead

Maps

  • Maps: Hike Finder
  • Green Trails Maps: Mount St. Helens, WA #364 (partial)
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument & Administrative Area
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: Gifford Pinchot National Forest
  • National Geographic Trails Illustrated Map: Mount St. Helens - Mt. Adams

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this hike

  • Day Hiking: Mount St. Helens by Craig Romano & Aaron Theisen
  • Best Hikes Near Portland by Fred Barstad
  • Day Hiking: South Cascades by Dan A. Nelson and Alan L. Bauer (Toutle Trail section)
  • Exploring Washington's Wild Areas by Marge & Ted Mueller (Toutle Trail section)

More Links


Page Contributors

Oregon Hikers Field Guide is built as a collaborative effort by its user community. While we make every effort to fact-check, information found here should be considered anecdotal. You should cross-check against other references before planning a hike. Trail routing and conditions are subject to change. Please contact us if you notice errors on this page.

Hiking is a potentially risky activity, and the entire risk for users of this field guide is assumed by the user, and in no event shall Trailkeepers of Oregon be liable for any injury or damages suffered as a result of relying on content in this field guide. All content posted on the field guide becomes the property of Trailkeepers of Oregon, and may not be used without permission.