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Go to: Visiting 7WM
Main Page: 7 Wonders Museum

Mount St. Helens · 7 Wonders Museum

 (in your transportation)

7WM provides “step-on guide” service to help you understand the visitor attractions on SR 504 from a creation viewpoint.  Choose one of the options below and tailor it to your group/party’s interests.  Each option is numbered, titled, lists activities in parenthesis and shows the range of time needed.  Time begins and ends at 7WM. When adverse weather conditions arise during a tour (like a driving rain), we adjust the itinerary accordingly by mutual agreement.  Following the options the various attractions are listed.  Finally, the major hikes are described.  Because major attractions close or change hours during the off-season, only option one works all the time; option two works most of the time.

Abbreviations:  7WM=our place; JRO=Johnston Ridge Observatory; MM=Mile Marker; TT=travel time (in Hours); VC=visitors center; VP=Viewpoint
Option 1 – 7 Wonders Museum as Final Destination. 1 ¼ - 2 hours
Option 2 – Sediment Dam Hike (7WM, North Fork Toutle River, Buried A-Frame, Hike, TT- ¾), 3 ½ - 4 hours
Option 3 – Hummock Trail Hike (7WM, Buried A-Frame, Forest Learning Center, Castle Lake VP, Hike, JRO, TT- 2  hours), 6-7 hours
Option 4 – Boundary Trail Hike (7WM, Buried A-Frame, Forest Learning Center, Castle Lake VP, JRO, Hike, TT-2 hours), 7-8 ½ hours
Option 5 – State Route 504 Attractions (7WM, Buried A-Frame, Hoffstadt Bluffs Visitor Center, Hoffstadt Bridge VP, Forest Learning Center, Castle Lake Viewpoint, JRO, TT-2 hours), 6-7 ½ hours

Booking your visit

     If you would like to take one of these field trips, contact us by phone (preferred), e-mail or letter so we can begin a booking form.  Depending on the type of group coming (senior citizens, school group, extended family), we will eventually want to have your address, phone, number in group, purpose of field trip, time you are arriving, time you must depart for home, age range, knowledge of volcanoes & MSH, type of transportation and emergency number. We will work with you to prepare a customized day/visit with an itinerary that meets your goals, fits the time you have available and is suitable for the ages in your group.  We answer the phone from 7am-9pm (and in the middle of the night when necessary).  Once a date is established, we will enter you on our calendar.  If you are coming in more than one vehicle, it is essential that each driver have directions.  Give each a copy of the map.  Occasionally a driver misses us.  A day or so before your arrival give us a final call.  It assures us you are coming and often provides new information which is important to the success of the day.

Activities & Attractions
7 Wonders Creation Museum & Bookstore: Pictorial story of wonders, rest rooms, refreshments, Power Point presentation, explore bookstore, ¾-1½ hours. The 7WM is 1¼ hrs from Portland & 2¼ hrs from Seattle.

    Major hikes: described below

Walks:  Each visitor center has a nature walk.  Add 30-45 minutes for each walk.  Most are on improved surfaces such as asphalt.

Visitor Centers

Hoffstadt Bluffs, MM 27, gift shop, restaurant, glass blowing, helicopter tours, ½ - ¾ hrs (Mostly open)

Weyerhaeuser Forest Learning Center, MM 33, commercial tree farming theme: devastation to forest, salvage operations, replanting forest, managing a forest; picnic tables; volcano playground; viewpoint overlooks Middle Toutle Valley and 1250 acre elk preserve, ¾ - 1 hour  (Open about 5/18 – 10/15)

Coldwater Ridge, MM 42,; Permanently closed 11/5/07!!!

Johnston Ridge Observatory (JRO), MM 52, studying volcano theme; exhibits, wide-screen theater, unobstructed view of crater 5 miles away; ¾ - 1 hour  (open about 5/16 – 10/31)

MSH Visitor Center near Silver Lake, MM 5, introduction to MSH theme; ½ - ¾ hr (Open daily)

Other Attractions & Viewpoints

Buried A-Frame, MM 19, mud flow on North Fork Toutle River deposited 4-5 feet here

Hoffstadt Bridge VP, MM 29, marks edge of blast zone, Interpretive Signs

Elk Rock VP, MM 37, high above landslide and mud flow

Castle Lake VP, MM 40, overlooking lake formed by landslide; canyons formed in a day in the distance

Coldwater Lake Recreation Area, MM 44, picnic area, restrooms, Birth of a Lake interpretative trail, boat launch, trail heads; fee area except restrooms

Humming along on the Hummock Trail, a Biological Recovery Walk (2.5 miles/2 hours).   The Hummock Trail Loop Hike takes you through a series of large mounds called hummocks that are actually chunks of Mount St. Helens deposited by the landslide at the beginning of the 5/18/80 eruption.  You will see wildlife, plants and streams produced by the interesting ecosystem formed along this trail since the eruption.  Partly shady, with some ups and downs, it is not difficult, though somewhat tiring.  Most people in average shape enjoy this trail and find it moderately challenging.  There are many stops along the way where the tour guide explains the amazing way in which life returned after so much devastation.  Studies of biology at Mount St. Helens help us see what would have happened after Noah's Flood.  If you take this tour we suggest you begin your day early.  Arrive at the 7Wonders Museum by 9:30 or 10 or earlier!

Year-round Sediment Dam Hike (1.8-2.6 Miles).   Easiest and best maintained trail.  Great for families with small children.  Walk through a second or third generation forest and then a stand of young alders.  Branches and leaves form a canopy over the trail.  Two creeks pass under the trail.  Arrive at the south end of the half-mile long dam.  Round trip to this point is 1.8 miles.  Walk along the top of the dam to the information signs and cyclone fence.  Notice the valley floor 185’ below as the dam gently slopes downstream.  Then notice the upstream side—just 60 feet or so to the mud that stretches for several miles.  The purpose of the dam is to slow  the river so the sediment will settle out.  Learn a seldom thought of volcanic hazard—a river flowing over a debris or mudflow, slowly carrying it down stream.  It is more than a nuisance.  Without the Sediment Dam it would accumulate in the Columbia River and terminate Portland’s days as a port.

Bending around on the Boundary Trail, a geology walk with attention to the devastation (3.5 miles/2.5 hours).  This hike begins with the paved eruption trail at Johnston Ridge Observatory but continues east so from many angles, you can look at the canyons formed in a day far below, straight across at Step Canyon and the crater, and, finally, get a glimpse of Spirit Lake when you reach the Devil's Elbow.  Then we double back along the trail until we are at our vehicles.  Most of the hike is on the broad crest of Johnston Ridge, but one 300-yard section at the far end is cut into the side of the ridge, about 1000’ above the valley floor and several hundred feet below the crest.  That part is a little scary.  One parent must accompany each child below the age of 12 through this section.  If you are afraid of high places, take courage and just keep your eyes on the trail.  People in good shape do this hike easily; those who don't walk a lot find it challenging.  This hike bushes Lloyd.  He hates to think of the day he might hurt his foot and have to be carried back.  Bring a couple of big guys in your group please.

Field Trip Worksheet—Circle desired activity; 
on lines record time needed for activity & running time:

Arrive at 7Wonders Museum (Slides, Refreshments, Rest Rooms, Museum, Bookstore) (1½ hrs)  

Travel time on SR 504 (departing from and returning to 7WM)(up to 2 hrs)  

Hike: Sediment Dam (1¼ hrs), Hummock Loop (2 hrs), or Boundary Trail (2½ hrs)    

Choose attractions/viewpoints (1/4 hrs/stop): Buried A-Frame, Hoffstadt Bridge VP, Castle Lake VP:  

Museums: Forest Learning Center (1 hr);   Johnston Ridge Observatory (1¼ hrs)   

Eating the lunch you have brought (at Hoffstadt Bluffs, at Forest Learning Center, on trail, in car) 

Calculate arrival time by subtracting activity running time from preferred time to leave 7WM for home




What to Bring? Depending on the weather, which Field Trip/Tour Option you choose and how long you spend on it, each person needs to bring a pack, sack lunch, water bottle, good hiking shoes, sunscreen, slicker or poncho, warm shirt or jacket, dry clothes, hat and plastic bag to hold rocks (if outside the Monument).  Optional: power bars, trail mix or nuts, small first aid kit, money, etc.

Go to: Visiting 7WM
Main Page: 7 Wonders Museum

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