Sheep Canyon

Toutle River canyon

  • Moderate (to Toutle River)
  • 7.8 miles round trip
  • 1900 feet elevation gain
  • Open late June through October
  • Use: hikers, horses, bicycles


  • Difficult (to head of Sheep Canyon)
  • 10.8-mile loop
  • 1900 feet elevation gain

On the western edge of Mt. St. Helens’ 1980 blast zone, this hike has a little of everything: intact old-growth forests, desolated canyons, wildflower-strewn timberline meadows, and a truly astonishing view of the mountain from the South Fork Toutle River’s gorge, where the river has cut a sandy chasm into a half-mile-wide mudflow unleashed by the flash melting of the Toutle and Tallus Glaciers. Since then, smaller mudflows have periodically blocked car access to this hike’s trailhead. For current conditions, check www.fs.fed.us/gpnf or call 360-449-7800.

Drive Interstate 5 to …

Other Options

For a longer, 13.5-mile loop, continue around …

This chapter taken from the book 100 Hikes/Travel Guide: Northwest Oregon & Southwest Washington.