This trail passes along one of Washington state’s newest lakes, formed as a result of the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens. The Lakes Trail takes hikers around Coldwater Lake for a distance of about 5 miles with a beautiful view of the lake and surrounding landscape, with majestic hills and mountains in the distance.
There’s very minimal elevation gain, so the whole family can do this hike easily. Hike in as far as you want and connect with the South Coldwater Trail for some real backcountry hiking, or find a beautiful spot and turn around wherever your heart desires.
Just about every point on this trail is serene and beautiful, with a few crossings over babbling brooks that feed the lake. Look hard enough in the still waters and you can see fish swimming about. Trout were introduced a few years after the eruption, and you can even fish this lake today — the limit is one with a minimum length of 16 inches.
While this trail doesn’t have Mount St. Helens as a backdrop, it has several other points of interest that frame the picture of Coldwater Lake, themselves majestic in their own right. To the southwest you can see Coldwater Peak, an area more than 5,000 feet up that is a popular hiking destination for people wanting a day hike. To the north, you can see more trees that have grown since the blast and see the jagged and rugged landscape of the Mount Margaret Backcountry.
The trailhead just off State Route 504 contains restrooms with running water, a picnic area, boat launch and several interpretive displays.
How to get there: From Chehalis, take Interstate 5 south to Exit 63. Take a left on State Route 505 and follow it through to where it intersects with SR 504. Take another left and continue beyond the Science and Learning Center at Coldwater by bearing right at the interchange toward Johnston Ridge. Go about another 2 miles, and turn left at the sign for Coldwater Lake.