Smith Creek Butte–Going where no guidebook author has gone before!

Fellow intrepid explorer Jay Thompson hikes along the Muddy River looking for a safe place to ford–and to start hiking the Smith Creek Butte Trail.

One of the many things that I take in pride in my books-and a factor that many of you have told me that you appreciate-is the fact that I include many trails in my guides not found in any other books (and websites). Of course I include the popular trails–how could I not? But the real fun is hounding down and exploring trails that are truly off the beaten path. I love sharing these trails with my readers encouraging them to walk the path least traveled from time to time. Smith Creek Butte near Mount St Helens is one of those trails. You’ll see it shown on a handful of maps, but you won’t find any information on it anywhere! Of  course I have been intrigued by it and wondered if it even still existed.

After this week’s fact-finding hike-it does indeed exist and it is a little bit different than what is shown on the maps. It is indeed a very lightly traveled path, too. Primarily hunters use it-and not too many of them. What did we find along this trail? The ford of the Muddy River to reach it can be exciting or unnerving. The path is primarily wooded with lots of downed debris on it-but the tread is in excellent shape and the route-finding easy. Lots of elk and a few views. An old lookout site and an old quarry with excellent views. It’s a trail that you’ll be all alone on. It’s a trail that I am proud and happy to have included in my upcoming book (co-written with Aaron Theisen); Day Hiking Mount St Helens (The Mountaineers Books, spring 2015). What do you think? Interested in hiking it? What’s your favorite obscure trail near Washington’s famous active volcano?

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