5 - 6
FATMAP difficulty grade
Helens is a popular climb to an ever-changing landscape / active volcano.
The 13.2 km out-and-back goes through a 2nd growth forest with the some scrambling up scree / volcanic ash required.
Remember to grab your permit and a parking tag.
Permits can sell out months in advance, so plan ahead! An alpine start is HIGHLY recommended to avoid the heat of the late afternoon, and to catch the epic sunrise behind Rainier on the way up! Aim to reach the tree-line by sunrise if you want to see it! You'll want to also make sure you bring enough water, as pushing through the ash field at the top is like taking 2 steps backwards for every step forwards! Dogs: YES, this trail is dog friendly, however keep in mind that the volcanic rock may be hard on their paws.
Booties are recommended as the rock can be sharp.
NOTE: Bears are common in this area, do NOT leave food where you are sleeping.