Mount St. Helens NVM, WA: June Lake & Swift Creek Falls

Hike a 5.5-mile loop to a small lake grotto on the south side of Mount St. Helens, then cross the Worm Flows lava field to a waterfall on Swift Creek.

From the June Lake trailhead, start up (N) through pleasantly shaded forest, above and to the right of June Creek. The most notable bloom along the way is the penstemon, a bright purple, tubelike flower, often in small clumps. Shortly after a mile, cross a wooden bridge over June Lake's outlet, and emerge onto an open, sandy plain. To your left are the foot of the Worm Flows, the rugged, bouldery lava fields often used for the winter approach to the rim. To your right, a wall of brush hides June Lake in a small amphitheater-like basin.

Head for the forested wall ahead and pick up the trail that now switchbacks upward. At the first switchback, find a light trail that heads back through the trees to a small grotto, with fallen logs for sitting, and nice views over June Lake and the waterfall that spills into it; continue up when ready. After 0.3 miles, the trail ends at a junction with the Loowit Trail. Turn left (W) and enjoy the next half-mile of shaded trail while it lasts, as the rocky, Worm Flows suddenly reappear, and now you're heading across them, fully exposed, following pole markers and cairns through the lava fields.

From the lava fields, the views are all-encompassing. Above you is Mount St. Helens' blasted off top, below you is the Gifford Pinchot Nat'l Forest, with views east to Mt. Adams, and south to Mt. Hood in Oregon. West of you is Monitor Ridge, the summer approach to St. Helens' rim. Round a corner, and spot the waterfall on Swift Creek. The trail takes a turn to the north, passes through another wooded section (a few camp sites available), then emerges onto the plateau beside the falls.

Turn south, following the trail alongside Swift Creek's gorge. After a quarter-mile, a junction offers a return to June Lake; continue straight ahead (S). Now in the Marble Mountain Sno-Park, on trail 244, your return route is down gentle, wooded ski slopes, with intermingling small meadows. At the next junction, take the left fork, staying on 244 for another 0.9 mile, passing the bottom connector of 244C. Next, turn left (E) on trail 244A, cross a quarry area, veer right, and take the gravel road down to Road 83. 

A wooded trail offers a return to the June Lake trailhead, however it's heavily overgrown with thistle and other brush, so the half-mile return is easier done along the road. Cross the bridge over June Creek, and head up the June Lake trailhead road to complete your loop.

Mapped by Eli Boschetto Bosco Mountain Photo

Trail Facts

  • Distance: 8.6



Location: 46.137185, -122.15684

June Lake trailhead.


Location: 46.142651, -122.157463

Fork right.


Location: 46.150472, -122.159085

Bridge over June Lake outlet.


Location: 46.151394, -122.158774

June Lake; campsites available around western shore.


Location: 46.152011, -122.15872

Take a faint side trail after the first switchback to a small grotto with waterfall.


Location: 46.153669, -122.158766

Loowit Trail; turn left (W).


Location: 46.156772, -122.162183

Begin traversing the Worm Flows lava fields; follow rock cairns and posts.


Location: 46.157696, -122.163999

Cross a small gully; requires a brief scramble up opposite side.


Location: 46.15813, -122.173963

Waterfall on XXX Creek.


Location: 46.152785, -122.169115

Trail fork; continue straight ahead (S) staying along Swift Creek; left returns to June Lake.


Location: 46.146977, -122.16936

Trail fork; veer left (SE).


Location: 46.141291, -122.169862

Trail fork; continue left (SW).


Location: 46.136964, -122.171668

Trail fork; turn left (E).


Location: 46.135942, -122.16929

Trail intersection; continue straight ahead through quarry (E).


Location: 46.136179, -122.168784

Pass through the Rock Pit, continuing down (E) on gravel road.


Location: 46.136197, -122.164752

Trail ends at FR 83; turn left (NE) and finish along road back to June Lake turnoff.


Location: 46.135493, -122.157251

June Lake turnoff; turn left (N) up road to return to starting point.

June Trail

Location: 46.138869, -122.156596

The June Lake trail starts up alongside June Creek, through second-growth forest and small, grassy meadows.

June Lake

Location: 46.15155, -122.158914

The lichen covering the bed of June Lake gives the clear water a rusty color; a small waterfall empties into the lake on the other side.

June Grotto

Location: 46.152115, -122.158442

A small grotto above the lake offers a shaded view over the lake and waterfall.

Worm Flows

Location: 46.157421, -122.163012

The trail crosses a large lava field, known as the "Worm Flows."

Trail Cairn

Location: 46.157733, -122.164171

Cairns and poles mark the route across the Worm Flows.

Mount St. Helens

Location: 46.157228, -122.16696

View of the volcano from the Worm Flows.

Swift Creek Falls

Location: 46.158149, -122.174127

Swift Creek spills over an old lava flow, into a deep gorge.

Volcano Trail

Location: 46.157035, -122.172325

From Trail 224, view of Mount St. Helens and the Swift Creek gorge and waterfall.