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Audubon Birding Day: Hiking and Sunset at Mount St. Helens with Gina Roberti & Erin Law

Let’s explore the diverse habitats created by the 1980 volcanic eruption and observe the birds that live there. We will learn about where to see some of Mount St. Helen’s signature birds and visit the best and most accessible birding sites on the north side of Mount St. Helens including the Hummocks trail, Coldwater Lake, and the Boundary Trail. The Hummocks Trail is a Washington State birding trail. Our trip will focus on habitat type and distribution and will include a substantial amount of hiking (up to 3.5 miles). The end-of-day timing is designed to align with early evening birdsong and bird activity.

Our field trip will offer a few fantastic views of Mount St. Helens on clear days. For the best views into the crater, visit Johnston Ridge Observatory before or after the field trip.

Meeting Location: Coldwater Lake Picnic Area

Background Information on Mount St. Helens

On May 18, 1980, a cataclysmic event occurred at Mount St. Helens as the north flank of the volcano slid off in one of the largest landslides in recorded history, unleashing a powerful eruption. This eruption buried 230 square miles of existing old-growth forest with hundreds of feet of volcanic debris. In some places closest to the crater of the volcano, almost no living organisms survived. Ash from the eruption blew across the United States and megatons of logs and volcanic debris clogged up rivers, lakes, and streams. The eruption dramatically reshaped the landscape, creating a mosaic of habitat types that are now home to a diverse suite of birds. 

In 1982, the Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument was designated to protect the land closest to the volcano as a place for research, recreation, and education. Today, home to more than 80 species of nesting birds, the Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument offers unique birding opportunities.

Accessibility: Trips may include a substantial amount of hiking (up to 3.5 miles) depending on the hiking ability and needs of the group. 

Rest stops: There are several benches along both sections of the field trip though no section has enough benches for all participants to sit down at once. Resting along the Hummocks trail will involve sitting on rocks and moss and uneven ground along the edge of the trail. Picnic tables are available at the Coldwater Lake Picnic Area which is the meeting location for the field trip.

Sun exposure: Depending on the season and whether the dominant tree type in the forest (alder trees) have leaves, it may be more sunny or shady. The Hummocks trail is ~ 50% shaded.

Amenities: Restrooms are not available at the Hummocks trailhead nor along the trail. Indoor ADA-accessible bathrooms are located at the Coldwater Lake Picnic Area & boat ramp and may be open depending on the season. In fall of 2021, the indoor restrooms at Coldwater Lake Picnic Area were damaged and currently, there are port-a-potties.

Public transit: Public transportation is NOT available for this field trip. Participants are encouraged to carpool. There is a park-and-ride at the Information Center in Castle Rock, Washington, which has free wifi and is a great place to leave vehicles for a day. Another fantastic birding spot along the way and a great spot to meet for a carpool is at the Mount St. Helens Visitors Center at Seaquest State Park (note that Discover parking passes are required). 

Cell phone reception: There is NO cell phone reception at the meeting location nor along the drive on WA State Route 504 after leaving the I-5 highway corridor. Please plan in advance.

Accessibility

Distance: Total walking distance of up to 4 miles on uneven terrain. 

Elevation changes: Total elevation change of less than 500 feet. The Hummocks trail is a 2.5-mile loop trail that meanders up and down through the landslide deposit from the May 18, 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens. The trail goes up and down hills (hummocks) that vary in height from 30-50’. 

Trail tread & average width: The trail tread on the Hummocks trail is majority compact gravel though is uneven and rocky in sections. The surface of the trail is uneven. The trail is wide enough for two people to walk side by side for ¾ of a mile and the remainder wide enough for single file. The remainder of the field trip occurs on a paved ADA-accessible trail and boardwalk.

Pacing: The field trip includes two separate portions: one hike on paved boardwalk trail and one hike on the Hummocks trail. The trip will include hiking the ¼ mile-paved ADA-accessible Coldwater Lake Boardwalk trail for ~ 1.5 hours. The hike along the boardwalk trail will be slow, with frequent stops to view and listen to birds. The group will hike the 2.5-mile Hummocks loop trail in 2.5 – 3 hours. The Hummocks is a faster pace to cover more diverse habitat types and terrain.

Sunsets and birds at Mt. St Helens!

Join Gina and Erin to hike, learn about the habitats created by the eruption, and enjoy the dusk bird activity on the north side of Mount St. Helens.

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Audubon Birding Day Details

  • Date: April 29, 3:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
  • Class fee: $65 members / $85 non-members

Details

Date:
April 29, 2023
Time:
3:00 pm - 7:30 pm
Event Categories:
,

Venue

OR United States
Website:
https://audubonportland.org/venue/3749/
Cost:
$85 – $115

Venue

OR United States
Website:
https://audubonportland.org/venue/3749/
Cost:
$85 – $115

Organizer

Tara Lemezis
Email:
tlemezis@audubonportland.org