Hiking - Trivia

Long Ape Cave Trails - 3rd Longest Lava Tube in North America!

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When you love to hike, you tend to be fascinated by trials that are hidden and still virgin! If you have the passion and are an adventure buff, then check out the Ape Cave Trails. It is the longest continuous lava tube in the USA and the third longest in North America. The Ape Cave trials is a popular hiking destination. The lava tubes are the highlight of this trial.

What so special about this trial?
The Ape Cave Trails is a 2.5-mile long trail.

The Ape Cave Trails: Details you need to know!

  • Highest Point- 2485 feet
  • Elevation gain- 640 feet with Upper Cave
  • Difficulty- Easy (Lower Cave) Moderate (Upper Cave)
  • Permit- Northwest Forest Pass and Snow-Park permit from December 1- March 31
  • Best time to visit- Throughout the year

Nestled in the lush green Gifford Pinchot National Forest in Washington state and to the south of the majestic Mount Helens, the Ape Cave trials have an interesting story behind its name.

Incredible Story Behind the Name

Around 2,000 years ago, the lava that oozed out of Mount Saint Helens led to the creation of Ape Cave. When the molten lava cooled, it formed crusty outer edges whereas the inner molten channeled into a tube. It was in 1950 when Lawerence Johnson, a logger, discovered the existence of the cave. He went ahead to explore the cave along with his friends. The group called themselves Ape Cave Trailsand ever since, the cave was called the Ape Cave!

hiking in ape cave trails
Ape Cave entrance Source

The Cave of Darkness

Before you head out to explore the caves, you should know that the caves are pitch dark and have a temperature of 42 degree F (5.5 degree Celsius). We suggest that you wear sufficient outwear, sweatshirts, protective gloves. There are places where you would have to crawl, so do wear rugged denim or comfortable tracks!

ape cave trails, hiking, washington
Ape Cave Trails Source

Apart from clothing, you should carry headlamps, flashlights, lanterns and don’t forget the additional batteries. Rent a lantern from the Ape’s Headquarters as their lanterns have a wired mesh that protects the lantern from breaking. Do remember that smoking, alcohol, and fireworks are prohibited inside the cave.

Livingit Tip
Pets are not allowed inside the cave.

The Trail that Leads to Two Caves

The main entrance for the Ape Cave trials is between the two ends known as Upper Cave and Lower Cave and it takes around 4 hours to complete everything.

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Ape Cave trails Source

If you love challenges then we suggest you hike on the Upper Cave which is 1.5 miles rugged one-way trail. You require excellent endurance, patience, and caution to complete the amazing lava shaped tube route.

You have to climb around 26 boulder piles and hike lava fall which is 8 foot high. The boulders are a result of the lava that cooled down and drained from the tube. Also, when the lava tube cooled off, it began to crack which made the walls and ceilings to collapse, turning it into the entrance to the Ape Cave. The hike is pretty engaging yet

The hike is pretty engaging yet an experience of a lifetime. From boulders to 20 feet high ceilings you would hike through an exceptional path that is filled with adventure and excitement. Trial further through the tube and you would find a metal ladder through which you can make an exit.

Livingit Tip
Exit through the skylight hole is restricted.

Once you are done with Upper Cave, Lower Cave trail would be a cake walk.

The Lower Cave is just 1.5 miles round trip with a mix of uneven, then flat and then the sandy path. When you head towards the end of the Cave you would notice two levels that require you to wriggle on the upper level and crawl in the lower level and then you need to return to where you started! You would have a good workout session!

Also, avoid touching the walls which are home to the cave slime which is an essential food source for the cave life!

Want to hike the Zion National Park? Check out Hiking Trails in Zion National Park

Isn’t this trail fascinating? So go, book your tickets right away and visit the Ape Cave Trail- one of the most interesting trails of North America.

Have you tried hiking with your doting kids? If not then read our Awesome Ideas to Make Hiking with Kids Memorable

If you have visited the Ape Cave Trail, then we would love to hear your experience in the comments below!

Cover Source!