East Side Access
Unlike the west side, where a wide, new highway passes four visitors centers that seem to compete with each other to see which one can offer the most wows per minute, visitors to Mount St. Helens’ eastern flanks will discover narrow, winding one-lane routes, simple information stations, and more basic facilities.
This is the wild side of the mountain, where the crowds are less and you’re allowed to draw your own conclusions without being inundated with flashy multimedia shows and elaborate computer animations. Information, maps, and monument passes ($3–6) are available at the Woods Creek Information Station (approximately seven miles south of Randle) and the Pine Creek Information Station on the east end of Swift Reservoir (20 miles east of Cougar).
The east side of Mount St. Helens is accessed by Forest Road 25, which heads south from the town of Randle. This paved but steep one-lane road (with turnouts) continues all the way to Pine Creek Ranger Station on Swift Creek Reservoir, south of the mountain. It is closed due to snow from late October to Memorial Day weekend and is not recommended for trailers or RVs.
For easier driving, drop off your trailer at the Woods Creek Information Station or Iron Creek Picnic Site on Forest Service Road 25 if traveling from the north, or at the Pine Creek Information Station if you’re coming from the south.
© Ericka Chickowski from Moon Washington, 8th edition