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December 29, 2011

Mt. St. Helens: Plains of Abraham/Ape Canyon

Mt. St. Helens signature mountain biking ride is a combination of two trails.  Ape Canyon Trail climbs on a ridge above its namesake canyon.  Named for a purported Bigfoot sighting in 1924, the canyon is a steep ravine carved through the lower slopes of the volcano.  At the top of Ape Canyon, the path intersects the more gently graded Plains of Abraham Trail.  Here the route traverses a large volcanic ash field left by the devastating 1980 eruption.  Our visit in August of 2011 was the first chance Becky had to ride this premium piece of trail.  It was my second time on the route.

Since my last visit in 2008 riding conditions in the area have improved.  The road to the trailhead is again open.  On the Ape Canyon Trail the brush and downfalls have been cleared.  The climb to the top no longer requires hike-a-bikes over downfalls.  One thing remained unchanged about the climb on Ape Canyon Trail—there are a lot of bugs.  Biting flies and mosquitoes accompanied our grind to the top.  Swarming flesh-munching insects inspire an unrelenting effort to get to the top.   If we stopped, we got eaten.  We tried not to stop.

The Ape Canyon/Plains of Abraham out and back is spectacular.  It is a unique trail.  Where else can you ride on the pumice field recently spewed by an active volcano?  The icing on the cake is the flowing slot car style Ape Canyon Trail descent.  And there is more trail to ride in the area than we’ve tried.  Mount St. Helens is more than a volcano; it is a mountain biking destination.

The full picture set is on Picasa.


  1. Your pictures are amazing!

    Comment by Malou Prestado — December 29, 2011 @ 10:52 pm

  2. Wonderful pictures! I haven’t been to Mt. St. Helens in a long time…maybe it’s time to go back!

    Comment by 4myskin — January 2, 2012 @ 6:04 pm

  3. Incredibly cool pix — what a way to start/end a year! 🙂

    Comment by Mikalee Byerman — January 2, 2012 @ 6:05 pm

  4. wow, so very stunning. almost unreal.

    Comment by The Simple Life of a Country Man's Wife — January 2, 2012 @ 6:06 pm

  5. I just logged off my WordPress blog and there on the front page is your photo of Mt St Helens! So I took a look and there awesome! I remember when it erupted about 30 years ago. I went on a trip from Vancouver Island to Disney Land on a bus! And we went quite nearby. I remember ash everywhere.

    These pictures are what I suppose I should have seen. Thank you.

    Comment by Alison — January 2, 2012 @ 6:27 pm

  6. Awesome pics! Thanks for taking the time to capture and share the moments.

    Comment by Bob Shannon — January 2, 2012 @ 6:38 pm

  7. wow… it looks so like a post card picture.. beautiful.. Thanks for sharing !!!

    Comment by vandysnape — January 2, 2012 @ 6:46 pm

  8. Such a great area. I’m sure you enjoyed the mountain biking. Thanks for sharing.

    Comment by Scott — January 2, 2012 @ 7:09 pm

  9. Some beautiful shots there! Glad that you had a companion to take photos which include scenery and you cycling. Opportunities don’t always happen for eternal photogenic cycling shots of self.

    From another cyclist. (but not mtn biker).

    Comment by Jean — January 2, 2012 @ 7:44 pm

  10. Great pictures. It’s really amazing how much that area has recovered from the eruption. Beautiful once again 🙂

    Comment by mpbulletin — January 2, 2012 @ 7:56 pm

  11. I love bicycling but am not so good at taking the photos. Love this post!

    Comment by MichaelEdits — January 2, 2012 @ 7:59 pm

  12. Awesome photos!

    Comment by Mike — January 2, 2012 @ 8:01 pm

  13. I still remember when Mt St. Helens blew her top in 1980. We felt it on Whidbey Island.

    Comment by pnwauthor — January 2, 2012 @ 8:04 pm

  14. My goodness, it’s gorgeous up there! Love the wildflowers contrasting with the rocks, blue sky and snowcap. Breathtaking and inspirational!

    Comment by Brenda Visser — January 2, 2012 @ 8:25 pm

  15. Incredible. Back in 1990 totally desert.

    Comment by ESHAUPT — January 2, 2012 @ 8:41 pm

  16. Definitely need to go see this place. Thanks for the tour

    Comment by philosophermouseofthehedge — January 2, 2012 @ 9:54 pm

  17. Gorgeous pictures. Just made me think that you were really close to it Mt. St. Helen, that is. Scary, in a beautiful way 🙂


    Comment by valentinedee — January 2, 2012 @ 10:13 pm

  18. wooowww!! your pictures are amazing!! :-D.. thanks for sharing.. great post

    Comment by abichica — January 2, 2012 @ 10:59 pm

  19. simply stunning

    Comment by soyouwanna — January 3, 2012 @ 12:52 am

  20. awesome pics….I visited the pacafic nw last summer and caught a glimpse on st helens by mistake….and wanted to return. This looks like an ideal spot to check out on themtb. Awesome!

    Comment by Karen — January 3, 2012 @ 12:52 am

  21. Great Photos! Thanks for sharing.

    Comment by cravesadventure — January 3, 2012 @ 1:49 am

  22. Great pictures!

    Comment by Nelsilya — January 3, 2012 @ 2:39 am

  23. Stunning pictures. Both the sky and the land are looking their best. Thank you for sharing these.

    Comment by Arindam — January 3, 2012 @ 5:51 am

  24. Wow that’s amazing adventure you have there

    Comment by ubrium — January 3, 2012 @ 5:51 am

  25. It seems like only yesterday Mt St Helens exploded! Great shots and good on you for being fit enough to be able to do such a ride

    Comment by gaycarboys — January 3, 2012 @ 6:02 am

  26. I haven’t been there since I was a kid, and the trees were still blown over, and the ground was far from green. It’s wonderful to see life there again.

    Comment by HealingMutti — January 3, 2012 @ 6:07 am

  27. Beautiful, stunning photos!

    Comment by creativeconfessions — January 3, 2012 @ 7:01 am

  28. Wonderful pics and post – was sitting around contemplating what to do with my day – you’ve inspired me to saddle-up and hit the trails around my home in Antalya – man and bike – no greater feeling!

    Comment by The Henry Brothers — January 3, 2012 @ 7:20 am

  29. Now that’s an adventure I was hoping to experience this year. Thanks for the awesome and inspiring photos!

    Comment by surexpress — January 3, 2012 @ 7:41 am

  30. what a life you have 😀

    Comment by dla faceta — January 3, 2012 @ 8:37 am

  31. great images!!! love the scenes also. :p

    Comment by Travelling Writer — January 3, 2012 @ 12:51 pm

  32. The pictures showed how great the adventure is. Nice shots and amazing scenes. 😉

    Comment by rainbow painter — January 3, 2012 @ 12:53 pm

    Thanks for sharing…..

    Comment by iamsprancy — January 3, 2012 @ 1:10 pm

  34. Nice pictures.

    One tip for future trips, though: take insect repellent! *BG* Seriously, please DO consider bringing insect repellent. Some times you get eaten even when you DON’T stop! I learned that firsthand when I went hiking in the Coconino National Forest in Flagstaff, Arizona the day after my Freshman year Homecoming game at Northern Arizona University and even though hiking isnlt quite the same as mountain biking, sometimes hikers face some of the same challenges as mountain bikers.

    Comment by ambermartingale — January 3, 2012 @ 4:33 pm

    • We actually were wearing bug dope. The black flies were killer.

      Comment by anotherheader — January 3, 2012 @ 5:10 pm

  35. Absolutely stunning photos! The views are beautiful and I love the wildflowers. Thanks for sharing and congrats on being freshly pressed!

    Comment by Dounia — January 3, 2012 @ 4:50 pm

  36. Amazing HQ photos, I once drove by Mount St Helens. back about 8 years ago, was a ways away, but what an amazing site. The pano shot with the mountain in the background, by far the best shot, reminds me of some classic shots you would see in books.

    Comment by Bill — January 3, 2012 @ 4:58 pm

  37. Very cool Blog!!! Love the pictures!! . Thanks for the interesting read. =)

    Comment by Kim — January 3, 2012 @ 5:01 pm

  38. Great photos!

    Comment by barcncpt44 — January 3, 2012 @ 5:06 pm

  39. Amazing!

    Comment by Marc — January 3, 2012 @ 6:11 pm

  40. into the wild:)
    specialized is very special!!!

    Comment by Alessandro Pullano — January 3, 2012 @ 8:34 pm

  41. wooooow a very beautiful place to spend some time.

    Comment by Mr.memo — January 3, 2012 @ 9:49 pm

  42. Wow, what a beautiful ride and photographs!

    Comment by Carlie Chew — January 4, 2012 @ 12:12 am

  43. Great photos!!, Each picture makes us feel as if we are seeing in real.
    I own a small camera, Kodak easy share. which Camera you use for outdoor photography?

    Comment by shashi Kallada — January 4, 2012 @ 4:48 am

    • Nikon D7000 for these. More details are in the “about” section.

      Comment by anotherheader — January 4, 2012 @ 4:55 am

  44. gaaadddd!! Your photos are beautiful! Seems like you had a great time biking through Mt. St. Helens’ plains. Pretty! 🙂

    Comment by joahnadiyosa — January 4, 2012 @ 8:07 am

  45. Amazing post, the pictures are awesome!
    What a wonderful trip!

    Comment by thebigbookofdating — January 4, 2012 @ 9:16 am

  46. I’d love to go hiking there.

    Comment by Andreas Moser — January 4, 2012 @ 10:08 am

  47. Great photos!! I also love mountain

    Comment by kodydogta5 — January 4, 2012 @ 4:31 pm

  48. WOW! These photographs are amazing and great set. I can almost feel the moments in there… I love bike… This should be a wonderful experience. Thank you for sharing with us, Good Luck for you. Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed. Thank you, with my love, nia

    Comment by niasunset — January 4, 2012 @ 5:36 pm

  49. It’s like to come to the end of the world for cycle

    Comment by Stulang Laut — January 4, 2012 @ 5:38 pm

  50. […] River Trail.  The climb and the Lewis River ride were firsts for us.  Mountain biking the classic Plains of Abraham and Ape Canyon Trails and hiking around the blast zone at the Windy Ridge Viewpoint were well-deserved repeat visits. […]

    Pingback by Mt. St. Helens: Lava Canyon and Ape Cave « Another Header — January 4, 2012 @ 6:55 pm

  51. Awesome! I love those pictures.

    Comment by Gerard — January 8, 2012 @ 6:28 pm

  52. great photos! such beautiful scenery!

    Comment by trialsinfood — January 10, 2012 @ 12:35 am

  53. Reblogged this on MY BLOG.

    Comment by jono966 — January 16, 2012 @ 7:35 am

  54. I’ve always wanted to go there! Looks amazing.

    Comment by jaketravellingtheworld — January 16, 2012 @ 6:04 pm

  55. Brillant Photos. I wish more people were into Mountain Biking too!

    Comment by 1000thingstodobeforeidie — January 20, 2012 @ 11:02 am

  56. […] Page Arizona becomes Freshly Pressed joining Mt. St. Helens: Plains of Abraham/Ape Canyon and National Parks: Death Valley, Zabriskie Point. Share this:StumbleUponDiggLike this:Like30 […]

    Pingback by Page Arizona « Another Header — April 25, 2012 @ 4:42 pm

  57. Really beautiful photos. Thanks for sharing them. Connie

    Comment by Constance V. Walden — April 26, 2012 @ 8:07 pm

  58. Great pictures. Loved the wildflowers…

    Comment by Texas Rambler — May 1, 2012 @ 1:26 am

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