Gifford Pinchot National Forest

Quick Facts

Gifford Pinchot National Forest


(360) 891-5000


Things To Do


Located in southwest Washington State, the Gifford Pinchot National Forest contains 1,372,000 acres and includes the 110,000-acre Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument established by congress in 1982. It is one of the oldest National Forests in the United States. Included as part of the Pacific Forest Reserve in 1893, this area was set aside as the Columbia National Forest in 1908, and renamed the Gifford Pinchot National Forest in 1949.

Map of Gifford Pinchot Nat'l Forest

Latitude, Longitude: 45.908595, -121.811365



  • Boating

    If you're interested in canoeing, kayaking, rafting, and other forms of boating, you'll find them here. However, gas powered motor are prohibited on most Forest lakes.

  • Bicycling

    More than one thousand miles of trails are woven throughout the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, and many are open to mountain bikers.

    How you rate trail difficulty will depend on your riding experience, the kind of bike you use, your goals, along with the ever-changing factors of weather and trail conditions. Trail guide pamphlets are available at the District Ranger Stations and the Forest Headquarters.

  • Auto/Motorcycle

    The forest offers dozens of scenic roads, some of which require high clearance vehicles. Roads range from high elevation passes to tranquil drives near lakes and rivers.

  • Camping

    Whether you seek the solitude of a backcountry camping site or a convenient place for you and your family to pitch a tent or park an RV, there are plenty of places to camp. Campsite fees, visitation fees and seasonal restrictions vary from site to site. In some cases, campsites can be reserved in advance.

  • Caving

    Among the more popular places to explore at Gifford Pinchot National Forest is Ape Cave, the longest known lava tube in the continental U.S. (12,810 feet). Be prepared by wearing warm clothing, heavy boots, and head protection. When you enter the caves, be sure to take at least three sources of light. In the summer, lamps can be rented at the nearby Ape Cave Headquarters, where interpretive walks are also available. Within one mile of Ape Cave is the Trail of Two Forests. Explore a 1/4 mile, barrier-free boardwalk interpretive trail through a lava tree cast area and plan for a relaxing break at the picnic area.

  • Climbing

    Mt. ADAMS, with its summit of 12,276 feet elevation, is the second highest peak in Washington State and the third highest peak in the Cascades Range. There are several climbing routes on the mountain, ranging from the "non-technical" South Climb to highly technical routes that require advance skill, experience, and special equipment.

    Because of the high elevation, all climbs have a measure of difficultly and danger. Weather on Mt.Adams can change rapidly. Sudden snowstorms can occur above 6,000 feet elevation at any month of the year. What appears to be a non-technical route can change drastically during these storms. Your safety will be the result of your preparation and good judgment. Climbers should always prepare for bad weather and an extended stay on the mountain.

  • Fishing

    The Gifford Pinchot National Forest has more than 20 species of fish in 1,360 miles of streams and over 100 lakes. Three species of anadromous fish (chinook and coho salmon, and steelhead trout) and several species of resident salmonids (rainbow trout, kokanee salmon, brown trout, and cutthroat trout), including two species of char (bull trout and eastern brook trout), are found within Forest waters.

  • Hiking

    You can travel more than 1,200 miles of trail of varying difficulty. Some low-elevation trails, which open in the spring, have displays of early wildflowers. However, most trails are located in upper-elevation forest and alpine areas, which may be snow covered until July. Nearly 300 miles of trail are located within the Wildernesses. Approximately 11 miles of trails are constructed to barrier-free standards with several levels of difficulty. Approximately 136 miles of the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail traverses the Forest through spectacular, scenic high country, including the Indian Heaven, Mt. Adams, and Goat Rock Wildernesses.

  • Historic Sites

    To date, 1,596 heritage resource sites have been documented on the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. Examples include prehistoric archaeological sites such as Layser Cave on the Cowlitz Valley District, historic Native American sites such as the Big Tire Peeled Cedars, Mt. Adams District, and historic structures such as House Rock Shelter, an emergency fire lookout, Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument.

    Heritage resource surveys for projects such as timber sales, stream bank stabilization, or roadside viewpoint construction are a routine part of program activities. Surveys are oriented toward the discovery and documentation of significant heritage resources. Other aspects of the program include historical research, collections curation, interpretation, public involvement, and coordination with tribal groups with traditional ties to the land.

  • Horseback Riding

    There are swimming areas in the Cowlitz Valley vicinity and the Mt. Adams vicinity.

  • Hunting

    Wildlife species that are hunted include deer, elk, black bear, cougar, mountain goats, and small game species of grouse, bobcat, coyote, fox, raccoon, and rabbits. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife sets seasons and possession limits. A Washington State license is required to hunt or fish in the National Forest. Please consult current regulations prior to fishing or hunting in your National Forest.

  • Off Highway Vehicles

    The Gifford Pinchot National Forest has some of the best trails for dirtbikes, quads and dualsport bikes in Washington State.

  • Picnicking

    With over one hundred lakes, the forest has a multitude of opportunities for places to picnic. Many campgrounds have day use areas for large gatherings.

  • RVing

    The Forest contains numerous campgrounds and picnic areas.

  • Water Sports

    There are swimming areas in the Cowlitz Valley vicinity and the Mt. Adams vicinity.

  • Winter Sports

    All sorts of winter recreation opportunities are available on the forest. XC skiing, snowmobiling, sledding, and snowshoeing are the most popular but other visitors also go snow camping and ice fishing. Please be prepared when venturing into the wilderness during the winter months.


Open year-round.

Park Partners


Provides information on campgrounds within the Forest.

Phone Numbers


(360) 891-5000