Vanson Lake Loop; (Mt St Helens Monument, 5 days, 4 nights)

$1795+tax/adult, $1616+tax/under 18, non-wilderness

  • August 8-12, 2022 (4 spots)
  • August 29 – September 2, 2022 (fully booked)

Rental Gear – Sleeping bag available $22/trip.

These trails are open to hikers, bicycles and horses, but closed to all motorized traffic. Horse and rider are common sights along the Green River, we give them a wide berth whenever possible. These trails see considerable hiking traffic on weekends.

This trek starts at the Goat Mountain trailhead parking area and travels down the Green River trail and picturesque river for about 6 miles.

The first 5 miles are largely in the 1980 blast zone from Mt St Helens and is thickly forested with 40-yr old trees. The last mile is in a shielded area of truly impressive ancient Douglas-fir and cedar stands.

The first camp is a lovely flat with tent sites adjacent Green River. Day 2 is a gradual climb of 1700 ft elevation for 4 miles to Vanson Lake. Day 3 is a moderate 3 miles and 900 ft elevation gain and loss to Deadman Lake (pictured above). We will layover a day at this lovely site to allow for some fishing and huckleberry picking. Day 5 is a 8-mile hike along Goat Mountain with 2000 ft elevation drop to the starting point. This necessitates an efficient process to break camp and get started. Day 2 and Day 5 are challenging enough to warrant a classification of “Strenuous.”

This hike offers a fascinating loop through varied forests, some great views of Mt St Helens and the blast zone, as well as the best huckleberry picking that we’ve found. There are a lot of fish rising in both lakes, bring your fly rod!

Trip Logistics

Meet up at the trailhead at 9 a.m. for each of the hikes. Contrary to what some hiking guides write, no Forest Pass is required at the Goat Mountain trailhead.

Lunch is provided on the first day and the last day, as well as meals and snacks in between.

Llamas are not very tolerant of hot weather, so in that event we will be starting early, with breakfast served at either 6 or 7 a.m.  Extra coffee will be provided 🙂

Specific Hazards

  • Horses and bicycles on trail occasionally
  • Open water, drowning hazard for small children


We strive to provide exceptional meals in the back country.  Fresh meats and fish, steamed vegetables, salad, fresh bread from Dutch ovens, and desserts are planned for the first three dinners.  High fire danger will necessitate a simpler menu, as Dutch ovens can’t be used.

Subsequent dinners will be dried and re-hydrated, or selections of commercial dried dinners. Pescatarian, and dairy-free are easily accommodated. Vegan and gluten-free are available individually through commercial dried dinners with fresh additives that we will bring.

All dietary requests must be made at least 2 weeks before the trip.

Lunches will include wraps with fresh meats and cheese for the first three days, as well as fresh fruit.  Days 4 through 5 will be wraps with nut butters and dried fruit.  Snacks will be a selection of Kind bars or Larabars.

Breakfasts on travel days will include hot coffee, tea, and instant oatmeal selection.  A nice breakfast is standard fare on layover days, sometimes with fresh coffee cake if fire danger allows.

What to Bring

We carry 30 lb of gear per person, including the tent (3-4 lb) and pad (1-2 lb) that we provide.  Any overage is carried by the client.

  • Rain gear
  • Sleeping bag
  • Warm clothes
  • Hat
  • Trekking poles
  • Flashlight
  • Insect repellent
  • Sunscreen
  • Medications

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