Ape Cave Trail

#1 of 278 trails in Gifford Pinchot National Forest

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Ape Cave Trail is a 2.6 mile out and back trail that features a cave and is good for all skill levels. The trail is primarily used for hiking & walking and is accessible year-round.

From Vancouver, WA, north on 1-5 to Highway 503, exit 21. Drive east 35 miles to Forest Service Road 83. Turn left and drive 2 miles to Forest Service Road 8303. Turn left and drive 1.5 miles to the trailhead on the right.

A federal Northwest Forest Pass is required to park here

Gifford Pinchot National Forest
Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument
42218 Northeast Yale Bridge Road
Amboy, WA 98601
Tel: 360.449.7871

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Samantha Wagner

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4 Completed 3 Reviews

been through these caves twice now. still very cool

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1 Completed 1 Reviews

OMG! We had no idea how long or how difficult this was going to be. First of all, hiking through this cave was a last minute decision that I regret making. We should have been more informed and prepared, but sadly we were not and we learned a valuable lesson. We didn't start our journey through the Ape caves until about 6:30pm last Sunday. We had nothing with us but a small flashlight. There was just the two of us, one in jeans and the other in yoga pants, with light jackets (cotton), and tennis shoes. When we first entered the cave, we saw a sign that said "Easy 3/4 mile" and "Difficult 1/2 mile". If we would have read the signs outside we would have seen that 1/2 mile was not true; it was really 1 1/2 mile. In addition to that," Difficult" doesn't even begin to explain that cave. There were walls of boulders to climb over all the way through the cave, shear walls to scale up (one with a rope to climb), and when you don't know how long this cave is, and the obstacles become increasingly challenging as you continue, it gets a little scary, especially when your one and only light is starting to dim. It seemed that this cave was never going to end and I was terrified that we would be suck in there, in the total darkness, with no food, water, light, source of heat, or even any concept of time. Every so often I would feel a breeze and think that we were almost there, but sadly we weren't. At one point we saw daylight, but that was only a skylight so far above that there was no way to reach it. After 3 hours of walking, climbing and getting pretty banged up, we reached the exit. I literally cried. Once outside, we followed the arrows which we assumed would lead us back the car. It was now after 9:30pm and getting dark. There were no other people around and the trail through the woods seemed to go forever, just like the cave. We made it back to the car just before it was too dark to see. We drank some water and got out the first aid kit for a pretty nasty gash on his leg, as well as multiple cuts and bruises. I was never so happy to see my car and I am so thankful to have gotten through the cave before our light went out. I have learned a big lesson and will definitely be more aware and prepared next time. That was probably the dumbest decision that I have ever made.

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28 Completed 23 Reviews

I always encourage my friends with kids to do this! It's so much fun exploring the cave! There are two different routes you can take once you get down into the cave- the 3/4 mile easy hike or the 1.5 mile upper portion of the cave that can be a little bit more difficult and may require a helping had at times. Make sure you pack head lamps/flash lights and warm jackets even in the summer as it can be cold. I believe that you can also rent lanterns from the forest service there on site but make sure to get them back to them on time (5pm).

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7 Completed 5 Reviews

The Ape Caves are an absolute blast, it can be packed when busy, but other than a lack of solitude it's a great adventure through a lava tube.

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17 Completed 17 Reviews

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2 Completed 1 Reviews

there are 2 different routes. there is the lower cave which is .75 miles in and comes to a dead end. this is the easier route better for kids and the elderly. the other route is the upper cave and it is 1.5 miles through and you will return on a 1.5 mile trail on the surface. This route has 27 rock piles and an 8 ft wall to climb over, this is a very fun hike!!! oh and ATTENTION ALL CITY FOLK, CAVES ARE DARK, BRING A FLASHLIGHT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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16 Completed 9 Reviews

Did the Ape Caves with my wife and two friends last Sunday. This was so much more fun than I even expected! We hiked up to the upper caves and started our descent there. We worked our way down to the lower caves and saw the meatball and then ascended out the lower caves.

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18 Completed 20 Reviews

had a great time as always! makes me want to go caving all over the state! not for the clostraphobic though.....

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96 Completed 56 Reviews

This is a quick trail that would be interesting for most ages. Bring good light sources and something to keep warm, even in summer (it's quite chilly down there). Note, the lower section is appropriate for most ages. However, the upper section may be better suited for older children.

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4 Completed 1 Reviews

Bring a hoodie! 42? down there all year long :)
Pretty cool down there.

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