Seaquest State Park Things to Do
Mount Saint Helens Visitors Center /...
There is an interesting interaction here. The Visitor's Center located at Seaquest State Park for Mount Saint Helens National Volcanic Monument was originally built by the US Forest Service, but eventually transferred to the state as the US Forest Service really isn't set up to handle this type of thing. So, this is a state of Washington facility that is located on State Park land, but serves to primarily help visitors understand the National Monument, some distance up the road.
As the Museum is basically part of Mount Saint Helens National Volcanic Monument, my main tip about this museum is located in the Mount Saint Helens National Volcanic Monument section of VirtualTourist, as is my tip about the Silver Lake Trail.
However, this trail and visitor's center are also basically part of the state park here.
While already covered in my other tip about this trail located on my Mount Saint Helens National Monument Page, the land on which the Mount Saint Helens Visitor's Center sits is eseentially part of Seaquest State Park, and the trail that connects it to Silver Lake is as really more a part of Seaquest State Park as it is Mount Saint Helens National Volcanic Monument.
The trail forms a loop, much of which is on boardwalk above Silver Lake. On a clear day, it is possible to see Mount Saint Helens from the boardwalk and many other places of the trail. It is also possible to see a lot of bird life at times along the trail, including wintering birds (depending on the season) and woodpeckers in the very large trees near the visitor's center.
Other parts of the trail run in forest along the edge of the lake.
The vast majority of the trail is well maintained gravel, but a few soft spots exist that make it a little muddy in places at times. However, as a general rule the trail is far less muddy than the regular trails across the highway in Seaquest State Park itself.
There is a tunnel under highway 504 that connects the main part of Seaquest State Park with the Mount Saint Helens Visitor's Center so that visitors to one can visit the other without having to fight highway traffic.
The main trail entrance is located behind and beside the visitor's center. Just keep heading downhill and towards the lake from the visitor's center entry along the concrete walkways and you will find your way to the trail.
The Visitor's Center is the primary entry point for those visiting Mount Saint Helens, and the museum portion of the facility hosts quite a lot of fairly good information and displays about the eruption in 1980. This is the least likely visitor's center to be closed by snow and other weather, as it is the lowest in altitude. The next several visitor's centers on highway 504 are successively higher in elevation, with Johnson Ridge Observatory only operating in the months with no snow. For dead of winter visits to the Volcanic Monument, this might be the only place you are able to visit.Related to:
- Hiking and Walking
- Museum Visits
The core of the day use area of Seaquest State Park has a number of picnic areas. Some of these are reservable shelters tucked into the forest, one or two are large shelters with big fireplace facilities and large group capacity, and in some places there are just picnic tables out in the clearning that are surrounded by forest. Some of the reservable spaces do not have a shelter.
The largest of the shelters is in the center of the park and has two wings, with enough space for quite a number of people under the shelter. It also has the most extensive facilities.
A few of the other shelters have water right near the shelter. Virtually all of the shelters have some sort of barbecue stand or fire pit. Except for the large shelter towards the center of the day use area, most of the picnic shelters lack electrical power outlets.
It is possible to reserve some of the picnic facilities by calling a toll free number listed on the state parks web site, or by using the web link on the Washington State Parks web site. Web reservations are handled through the Tacoma Public Utilities web site, which also owns several parks.Related to:
- Family Travel
- Hiking and Walking
There Will Be Mud: The Hiking Trails
There are approximately 7 miles of hiking trails inside Seaquest State Park. By far the busiest and most developed of those trails is the loop at the Mount Saint Helens Visitor's Center, which features views of the mountain (on a clear day) and the wetlands made by Silver Lake.
As this trail is radically different than everything else in Seaquest State Park, I have put it in its own separate section.
The rest of the hiking trails are accessible from several areas around the Day Use area. They form multiple intertwined loops through the forest, and during the wet season there will be mud, if not entire streams running down the middle of the trails.
Many of the trail intersections are marked with maps to help you decide which direction you want to go.
Due to the sheer amount of traffic, the trail over at the Mount Saint Helen's Visitor's Center is gravel for its entire distance, except for the boardwalks. However, in the actual state park day use area, the trails are mostly dirt. The area is mostly flat with some natural slope in places, but that flatness also means that the water courses from springs near the trails will cause mud to accumulate in places. Unless it hasn't rained for a while, the trails here will have mud in places, and mud is a certainty during much of the year. It isn't terribly deep, but just be prepared for things to be a little slippery in places.
There is a map of the park trails on the State Parks web site for this park.Related to:
- Hiking and Walking
Seaquest State Park Warnings and Dangers
"Camp Robbers" will Steal Any Food
In the Cascade Mountains and their foothills, we have what are commonly called "Gray Jays" but another common name for them is "Camp Robber". They are extremely aggressive food hunters, and have no hesitation at all about stealing food.
Anything they can find and grab is fair game, even if that means coming right up to you and taking the food off your plate as you sit at a picnic table.
They *might* have some hesitations about stealing food that is cooking right off a hot camp stove, but they would only be hesitations, and they would probably be very brief ones.
Even food that you have in your hand and are trying to eat are subject to swoop and grab incidents if it is left exposed long enough.
Normally, these birds are confined to areas fairly high up in the mountains, and do not come close to places as close to Interstate 5 as Seaquest State Park. However, even though it is only 5 miles (8 km) from Interstate 5, Seaquest State Park is some 500 feet (150 meters) above the freeway. This is enough of an elevation difference that the Gray Jays are common here.
They will be willing to take food right out of your hands, but it is not good to feed them unless you have something that is actually good for birds to eat (not bread - that interferes with their digestive system). They will eat anything, but not everything will be good for them. If you want to feed them (and people really prefer that you don't) please consider brining some actual sunflower seeds or other bird food that you can feed them.Related to:
- Family Travel