Mount Margaret Backcountry

Gifford Pinchot National Forest

NEW FOR 2024: The Mount Margaret Backcountry Permits will have a $7/per person, per night fee. 

Located in the northeast corner of Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument, site of the 1980 eruption, the Mount Margaret Backcountry offers excellent backpacking opportunities. Eight designated campsites are scattered throughout the high-elevation lakes and jagged ridgelines of the remote area, offering a rugged hiking experience. Trails cross through forest that was blown down by the dramatic lateral blast of the eruption, leaving behind a scoured landscape that has since regenerated with young fir and alder trees, wildflowers and berry bushes. Although the trails are steep and challenging, the views of Mount St. Helens, Mount Rainier and the Cascade Range, as well as the quiet solitude, are unparalleled. 

The 110,000 acre Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument on the Gifford Pinchot National Forest was set aside by Congress in 1982 to protect significant features and the unique geologic, ecologic and cultural resources in the landscape surrounding the volcano. An important objective of the legislation is to allow geologic forces and ecological succession to operate substantially unimpeded by human activity. When visiting the Mount Margaret Backcountry, please support the Monument’s objectives by staying on trail, following regulations outlined on your permit and using the provided tent pad, grey water sump and toilet facilities. 

Mount St. Helens is just one of the many National Monuments that are part of our national heritage of public lands, offering a variety of recreation and scientific opportunities to both the local and global community. Our collective of volunteers, partners, scientists and employees help make this remarkable place a destination for visitors from around the world. We invite you to become part of this dedicated and vibrant community. We hope you will return and explore each of the three different sides of the Monument: the unmatched crater views and amazing landslide-filled valley on the West Side (State Route 504 to Johnston Ridge), the lava flows, volcanic mudflows and beautiful forests on the South Side (Forest Roads 90 and 83 to Ape Cave and Lava Canyon); and the amazing blown-down forests, standing dead forests and Spirit Lake views on the East Side (Forest Roads 25 and 99 to Windy Ridge). Enjoy your visit!

Permit & Season Information

To protect natural resources and prevent crowding, permits are required for overnight camping in the Mount Margaret Backcountry between May 1st and November 30th. This area is often inaccessible due to snow until late spring or early summer, and is not guaranteed to be acessible by May 1. Early season access is typically from the State Route 504 trailheads. Camping is only allowed at designated sites. Group size is limited to 4 persons per group (8 persons at Ridge Camp). A permit may be printed up to 14 days before your reservation date. Once your permit has been printed, you cannot make changes.  

If you cannot make your reservation, please cancel the reservation promptly to allow other persons the opportunity to visit.  

Permits are released in one month increments on the first day of the preceding month. For example, all May permits are released on April 1. All releases occur at 7:00 AM Pacific Time. 

Need to Know

Conditions of Use: 

Rules and Regulations:


Fee Policy

Reservation Fee: $6.00 non-refundable fee. 

Recreation Fee: Overnight Mount Margaret Backcountry permits are $7.00 per person, per night, May 1st - November 30th.  

*The recreation fee finances on-the-ground administration and management of the Mount Margaret Backcountry Permit Area. Trailhead passes for parking are included in the permit cost for the duration of your overnight trip, and are part of your permit PDF. 

Day use visitors to Mount Margaret Backcountry are required to display a valid Recreation Day Pass, Northwest Forest Pass, or America the Beautiful Pass - available online, at the ranger station, or at the trailhead.  

Cancellation Policy

Permits are non-transferable. Changes to a reservation are allowed if made more than 7 days before the date of entry. Once a permit is printed, it cannot be cancelled or changed. Changes to the date of entry requires a new permit; cancel your existing permit and create a new reservation (a $6 nonrefundable reservation fee will apply). If you must cancel a reservation, cancel your permit as soon as you are able to allow other visitors to reserve the campsite. 

Contact Information

Mailing Address

42218 NE Yale Bridge Road Amboy WA 98601

Phone Number


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