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Elk Bench

South Cascades > Mount St. Helens
46.2973, -122.2666 Map & Directions
2.0 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain
600 feet
Highest Point
3,100 feet
Calculated Difficulty About Calculated Difficulty
Elk at Elk Bench. Photo by BeaverDawg. Full-size image
  • Wildflowers/Meadows
  • Good for kids
  • Lakes

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National Monument Fee
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This short trail is located near Coldwater Lake and connects visitors to the Science and Learning Center at Coldwater to the Lakes Trail and the Mount Margaret backcountry. Continue reading

3.00 out of 5

Hiking Elk Bench

This short trail is located near Coldwater Lake. With sweeping views of Coldwater Lake from the top, hikers gradually descend to a much more up-close lake experience, as the finish at a junction midway up the Lakes Trail. From this junction, visitors can turn left and walk a short ways up the Lakes Trail, where a small beach is the perfect place to enjoy the lake from.

If interested, it's possible to continue on the Lakes Trail for many miles, heading deep into the Mount Margaret backcountry. But you'll need a permit to camp overnight. Otherwise, simply turn around and head back uphill along the Elk Bench trail, back to those stunning views. 

It is also possible to access this trail by starting from the Lakes Trail trailhead, though this approach extends your hike considerably.

WTA worked here in 2019 and 2018!

Hike Description Written by
Multiple authors contributed to this report, WTA Community

Elk Bench

Map & Directions

Co-ordinates: 46.2973, -122.2666 Open in Google Maps

Before You Go

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Parking Pass/Entry Fee

National Monument Fee

WTA Pro Tip: Save a copy of our directions before you leave! App-based driving directions aren't always accurate and data connections may be unreliable as you drive to the trailhead.

Getting There

From Castle Rock, drive east on Highway 504 for 42 miles to the Science and Learning Center, just 10 miles west of Johnston Ridge Observatory.

Note that the Science and Learning Center is closed to the public until November 2019.

More Hike Details


South Cascades > Mount St. Helens

Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument

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Elk Bench

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