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Backpacker Magazine – Online Exclusive

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10 Amazing Cave Hikes in the U.S.

Adventures abound, both above and below ground.
Text by Mattie Schuler




6. Ape Cave, Mount Saint Helens National Volcanic Monument, Gifford Pinchot National Forest, WA

Thanks to lava floes from thousands of years ago, the Ape Cave near Mount Saint Helens is a standout, even amongst experienced cavers. Explore the lower and upper tubes unguided, then grab a headlamp (or two) for the 2.5 mile hike through the cave itself. The surrounding national forest includes more than 500 miles of trails such as Norway Pass, along with climbing routes that offer views of the peak.
Photo: Abinhaba Basu / Flickr

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READERS COMMENTS

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frustrated reader
Aug 13, 2014

NICE....

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Richard
Jun 26, 2014

ATTENTION WEBMASTER! READ THE COMMENTS!

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Richard
Jun 26, 2014

ATTENTION WEBMASTER! READ THE COMMENTS!

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Richard
Jun 26, 2014

ATTENTION WEBMASTER! READ THE COMMENTS!
The near unanimous irritation with the site needs to get the webmaster's attention.

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blake werner
Jun 26, 2014

I'm startled you didn't cover Blanchard Springs Caverns in Arkansas as one of the top 10! It's one of the largest (if not largest) caverns open to the public, kept exceptionally well, and has 3 different venues for exploring it. One is a down n dirty crawl deal thru the less explored places. (you will get very muddy n scraped up) But the best part is it's on USDA property and they run it. And much better than the national parks or forest service imho. The camping there is also on USDA forest and is top notch. The swimming around the spring fed creek in the campground is superb to boot. Steady clean flows with limestone beaches here n there, clear water with nice deep holes and.... as an added bonus besides the camping, hiking and cavin' there is an Ozark Folk Museum, sort of a livin hands-on deal, where artisans practice what they preach in the old time way making soap, instruments etc. This is in Mountain View, Ark. the neighboring "town". both being in Stone County. The town where Blanchard Springs Forest is, btw in Fiftysix, (pop less than 100, i forget offhand, but don't expect to get ice or groceries there go to Mountianview.) It's a very nice camp, good trails around and the outflow of the spring has some trout to boot. The cavern was "discovered" while the property was owned by the ag dept and they have treated it very carefully with airlocks etc from the get-go vs. some of the other caverns you have listed. You guys usually are spot on, i am surprised you missed that one!

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Jason
Jun 06, 2014

Timpanogas Cave is small but beautiful with some neat history. The hike is spectacular and is usually cool since it is on the south side of the canyon. Weekdays are a lot less busy, both in the National Monument and also on the Timp hike (that's what the locals call the mountain). Try taking one of the Ranger guided spelunking tours to get to places that no one else sees (call to see if they still do that tour).
Timp is covered in snow until July. If you like hiking on snow, come in late May or early June for some awesome glissading. There are two trailheads, one just above Sundance Ski Resort in Provo Canyon on state road 92, the other, Timpooneke, is near the top of American Fork Canyon also on SR-92. Plan on a full day to summit and return to your car unless you are young whippersnapper speed demon.
Call the Pleasant Grove Ranger District or the headquarters of the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forests (in Salt Lake City) for more information on the mountain hike or nearby attractions, American Fork Canyon is amazing. There is rock climbing, mountain biking, fishing, ATV trails, and great hiking. Check out the Lone Peak Wilderness, Timpanogos Wilderness, Mineral Basin, Cascade Springs, Alpine Loop Scenic Drive (SR-92), and the Sundance Ski Resort. I could go on and on.

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Patrick
Jun 05, 2014

When I get an email from Backpacker I really have to think about opening it, it's work to navigate your website. For awhile I just trashed them. The thing is the information is great but getting it is a pain in the ass!

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Doug
Apr 11, 2014

Agreed don't make us click so much. Great information but to difficult to access.

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Trish
Apr 10, 2014

Same here Jack! Argh!

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Jack
Apr 09, 2014

your method of making readers click 10 TIMES to see your list, makes me only get to 2-3 before getting frustrated and leaving. And more hesitant to click your links at all in the future. Maybe you'd have more longterm loyal readers if you weren't so damn greedy for page views.

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