Triple Mtn - Helens, Adams, Rainier

Trip recommendations, current conditions, and other trail related Q&A
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AlpenGlowHiker
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Triple Mtn - Helens, Adams, Rainier

Post by AlpenGlowHiker » November 22nd, 2021, 11:43 am

I'm linking all three mountains together in one trip. The route doesn't have many options; however the Mt St Helens area is presenting an issue. I want to start at Mt St Helens, and end at Rainer.

I have not done any hiking in the Mt Margaret backcountry but have always wanted to. What is the best route to maximize the time spent there? A few options that I have thought of were:

1. Start at Norway pass, make a loop of the Mt Margaret area (using Lakes Tr. and Boundary Tr.), then exit
2. Start at Coldwater Lake; but this present two issues: do you take the boundary trail or lakes trail?

Aside from that, any other recommendations?
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bobcat
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Re: Triple Mtn - Helens, Adams, Rainier

Post by bobcat » November 24th, 2021, 7:27 pm

Are you going peak to peak or connecting the three areas by trail?

As far as the Mt. Margaret area goes, the best linear option that will take you through and onward is the Boundary Trail, with stellar views all the way. The Lakes Loop from Norway Pass, including Mt. Whittier, is also great - also views and more lakes, but part of it lower down.

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drm
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Re: Triple Mtn - Helens, Adams, Rainier

Post by drm » November 26th, 2021, 9:34 am

This has come up before: permits for camping in the Mt Margaret Backcountry are for sale online and sell out really quickly. Unless you can hike the first day entirely across this section, getting a permit for this section is something that has to be planned far in advance.

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bobcat
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Re: Triple Mtn - Helens, Adams, Rainier

Post by bobcat » November 27th, 2021, 1:51 pm

A thru hike on the Boundary Trail is quite doable - about 15 miles from Johnston Ridge to Ghost Lake, which doesn't require a permit. The Mt. Whittier-Lakes loop (c. 14 miles) is also a decent day hike, a little bit extra to Mt. Margaret. The Whittier traverse is best done with a small pack anyway.

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teachpdx
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Re: Triple Mtn - Helens, Adams, Rainier

Post by teachpdx » November 30th, 2021, 8:45 am

Consider starting on the south side of MSH (such as June Lake) and partially loop the mountain anticlockwise. If your goal is to truly connect the mountains, the MMBC is pretty removed from MSH proper (8 miles straight line). Starting on the south side will put you right on the shoulder of the mountain for 8+ miles, and then take you right through the heart of the blast zone.

From the camp at the Plains of Abraham, taking the Loowit - Willow Springs - Truman - Boundary connection through the restricted zone is 19 miles to Norway Pass, only 17 if you dry camp at Windy Pass. And two easier days if you get a permit to camp anywhere in the MMBC. Just keep an eye on the Spirit Lake outflow construction project... they will have the Truman closed at times while they replace it with an access road next summer.

Another option, especially if the construction severs the Truman (the only trail connecting N/S in the Monument) is to connect trails with a few miles of road walking to Norway Pass via Windy Ridge (but the road at Windy Ridge will be intermittently closed, as well). Between Independence Pass and Norway Pass, camping is allowed on the right (east) side of the trail. From anywhere along this stretch, it would be easy enough to set up camp for two nights and do a day hike loop through the MMBC sans permit.

Personally, I would pick the straight-thru hike vs. doing a day loop of the MMBC. Whatever you didn't see on this trip, you can always come back later. And you'll be able to experience the majority of what the MMBC offers by staying on the ridge on the Boundary Trail.
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