I actually took four hikes with my family on Saturday while my brother was visiting from Madison, Wisconsin. Here is the first one, not really a hike in distance but really interesting. It takes you into two forests. One forest is old growth fir and cedar, and the other is a young forest that was engulfed by lava over two thousand years ago from an eruption by Mt. St. Helens.
On this hike, you must stay on the trail, because the mosses and landscape are fragile.
Trail of Two Forests
Rating: Easy peasy
Panting stops: 0
Length: 0.4 miles
Elevation changes: 19 feet
There probably isn’t an easier little walk you could take than this one, but it takes you through some impressive sights. Particularly impressive is the remnants of the ancient forest. Around 2000 years ago, lava engulfed the area, turning the trees to charcoal. As the years went by, the charcoal disintegrated, leaving perfect circles in the rock where the trees stood.
The walk is on a boardwalk surface, raised to keep feet off of delicate mosses and a ground riddled with unexpected holes.
Bring your flashlights, because a fun feature for kids is a tunnel created when two fallen trees that crossed each other were engulfed in lava. The kids can climb down a ladder to crawl into it and come out a little farther down the boardwalk. The insides of the tunnels have the texture of the old tree bark. This tunnel is for hands and knees, so keep that in mind if you want to try it.
How to get there
Gifford Pinchot National Forest, near Stevenson, Washington
From Portland or Vancouver
Take Washington 503 north past Cougar. It becomes Lewis River Road and then NF-90. Turn left on Lava Canyon Road, which is also NF-83. At that point, you should see a sign for the Trail of Two Forests. Take another left on Cinnamon Peak Road or NF-8303. Again, there should be another sign. The trail head is almost immediately on your left after that turn.
Parking and Facilities
There is a parking lot for about 10 or 15 cars. When we were there, a day when some of the forest recreational areas were packed with people, we were completely alone on the trail. There is a little restroom facility at the trail head.