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    Coldwater Lake via Lakes Trail

    This reflects the 10Adventures difficulty rating for each route. We aim to keep ratings consistent across regions.
    This reflects the estimated time the majority of users will take on this trail. If you are slower, add time to the top-end figure. If you are fast, then you may complete this route faster than this time range.
    This reflects the return distance of this route as measured by the GPS file.
    14.2 km
    This reflects the total elevation gained throughout this route as measured by the GPS file. This includes all ascents and descents, and is higher than what is quoted in most route guides, which simply measure the distance between the starting-point and high-point of the route.
    237 m
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    Directions to Trailhead

    The Lakes Trail is a popular pick for backpackers destined for the Mount Margaret Backcountry, but the out and back hike along the upper shore of Coldwater Lake is an ideal day hike for those exploring the region. This hike is 141.6 km long, but it can be shortened if you want an easier, faster adventure. Pack a picnic or grab the paddleboards if you want to continue the fun after your hike.

    This trail is subject to overgrowth and occasionally is blocked by blowdown. We recommend long pants and a spirit of adventure.

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    Route Description for Coldwater Lake via Lakes Trail

    Coldwater Lake is a pleasant spot to spend an afternoon, especially a warm one. You can boat on the lake, set up a picnic in the well-built and expansive picnic area, play cards in the sun, or take a hike along the shore of the lake. The walk along Coldwater Lake on Lakes Trail is a small part of a longer trail leading into the backcountry, making it a nice, straightforward adventure suitable for all ages. This trail can be shortened if desired.

    The trail can be overgrown in parts, so wearing long pants is recommended. There can also be blowdowns present, so take care climbing over.

    The hike begins near the boat launch. The best view of the lake is here, so take a moment to look out over the lake and the forest beyond.

    The trail follows the northwestern edge of the lake. It’s mostly level to begin with, climbing very gently in some parts. You hug the lakeshore the entire way, with the view of the water and the mountain changing as you traverse the path.

    Watch for small waterfalls as you walk, especially if you’re here after recent rain. In the fall, the colors can be quite splendid.

    The trail eventually takes you out along Coldwater Creek before it terminates at a junction past the lake. Head back the same way, enjoying the plentiful lake access points as you go.

    If you want to go further, there are trails up to Blastzone Butte and to some of the lakes and peaks further east of the lake that can be used.

    Hiking Route Highlights

    Coldwater Lake

    Coldwater Lake sits on the border of Cowlitz and Skamania Counties in Washington State, having been created in 1980 when nearby Mount Saint Helens erupted after the Coldwater Creek was blocked with volcanic debris. The lake offers opportunities for hiking, picnicking, non-motorized boating, and fishing.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Can you fish in Coldwater Lake?

    Yes, you can fish in the lake. It’s no longer stocked, so the daily catch limit is one fish at least 16 inches long.

    Is Coldwater Lake manmade?

    No. Coldwater Lake is one of several lakes in the area that was created or enlarged by the eruption of Mount Saint Helens.

    Can you boat on Coldwater Lake?

    Non-motorized boating is permitted on the lake.

    Insider Hints for Coldwater Lake via Lakes Trail

    • Stop by the Coldwater Ridge Visitor Center for a panoramic view of the lake and mountains.
    • There is no pass or permit required for this trail.

    Getting to the Coldwater Lake via Lakes Trail Trailhead

    The trailhead for the Lakes Trail along Coldwater Lake is beside the boat launch on the lake off Coldwater Lake Road.

    Route Information

    • Backcountry Campground


    • When to do


    • Pets allowed

      Yes - On Leash

    • Family friendly


    • Route Signage


    • Crowd Levels


    • Route Type

      Out and back

    Coldwater Lake via Lakes Trail Elevation Graph

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    Coldwater Lake via Lakes Trail Reviews

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