Ape Cave - the third longest lava tube (13,042’ long) in North America
The lower Ape Cave is approximately is .75 miles long and can be hiked down and back in an hour. It is most famous for “Meatball” - a block of cooled lava which fell from the lava tube ceiling while lava was still flowing through the cave. Floating on the surface of the lava flow it was carried downstream until it became wedged in a narrow spot above the present cave floor. http://www.mountsthelens.com/ape-caves.html
The parking lot and visitor area facilities are flat and paved. A paved trail leads to the lower cave entrance, but gets rougher to reach the upper entrance... To protect the cave environment please, NO Dogs, Pets, Food, Alcohol, Fireworks, Fires, Camping or Smoking are allowed in Ape Cave. Please be advised the inside of cars can get very hot during the summer months and is not a safe place for your pets. Please leave your pets safely at home. https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/giffordpinchot/recarea/?recid=40393
Ape Cave - Trip Advisor reviews
We went early arriving at 8:00AM when they had just opened gates and were glad we did. It took us a few minutes to figure out where we were supposed to enter cave because there really weren't directions on signs. We chose the easy route thru lower cave. It is extremely dark and we had small flashlights so we went back to our car to grab headlamps. Boy did we need those. It was not a difficult walk but there were some places that you had to pay close attention to your footing due to rocks on ground. Truly awe inspiring and we took our time enjoying. After we came out we saw the parking lot had filled up and there were many families with small children so we we lucky that we had gotten to experience the quiet marvel by entering early. https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g58569-d146316-r594416378-Ape_Cave_Lava_Tubes-Longview_Washington.html#
Overall, the experience was unique and enjoyable... There is no opening/closing time to the caves, but the visitor center closes at 1700. There is no lighting in the caves—after the first 50 meters, everything is pitch black. Flashlights are a must (we just used our iPhone flashlights). There are no restrooms inside the caves. We took the lower cave trail (just shy of 2 miles round trip) with our kids, the youngest of whom was 3. They all did fine throughout. If the trail had been longer, the lack of a restroom would have been a problem. https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g58569-d146316-r593535846-Ape_Cave_Lava_Tubes-Longview_Washington.html#
"We drove the Mt Hood Scenic Loop today and it is well worth doing if you are in Portland. The roads are excellent and the entire trip is picturesque. Make sure you take the spur to Timberline Lodge; the views of Mt Hood from the lodge are the best you will get. The road is good, but a bit challenging; it rises 2,700 feet over 6 miles!"
Cascade Locks, Oregon
"Cascade Locks is one of the oldest towns on the Columbia River. It sits on a section of the river that Lewis and Clark described in their journals as the “great rapids of the Cascades,” a stretch of raging water more than two miles long that was formed by a massive ancient landslide. Because of the dangerous rapids, pioneers moving west had to stop here. A small settlement grew up on the banks of the river in the early 1850s to help travelers portage around the rapids, first by foot, then by mule-drawn rail cars, steam engines, and finally riverboats. Cascade Locks was home to the first steam engine west of the Mississippi, the Oregon Pony, built in 1862 to carry passengers and freight past the rapids (now on display in the Marine Park next to the Cascade Locks Historical Museum)."
Trillium Lake Campground is a beautiful and popular campground not far from the quaint town of Government Camp. It provides spectacular views of majestic Mt. Hood, Oregon's highest point. The campground is well-known for its scenery and abundant recreational opportunities, as well as being a great, family-friendly place to camp. https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/mthood/recarea/?recid=53634
Ainsworth State Park - Nestled in the awe-inspiring Columbia River Gorge, Ainsworth is equal parts waterfall wonderland, hiker's playground and camper's delight. Situated at the eastern end of Historic Highway 30, from Ainsworth to Crown Point to the west, you'll find the world's greatest concentration of high waterfalls (like Multnomah Falls)... By leaving the park on Nesmith Point trail, you'll end up with a splendid view of St. Peter's Dome, a majestic basalt monolith rising 2,000 feet above the mighty Columbia River. https://oregonstateparks.org/index.cfm?do=parkPage.dsp_parkPage&parkId=105
Download Oregon State Park Brochures and Maps here.