Type of HikeDay hike
Just about anyone can hike this trail. It's a short half-mile loop from the Johnston Ridge Observatory. First, we stopped and got our pink wrist bands. It costs $8 per adult to visit Johnston Ridge or to hike any of the trails that leave from there. A Northwest Forest Pass gets one person in for free. An Interagency America the Beautiful Pass gets three adults in for free. Kids are no charge. I find the whole fee system at Mount St. Helens confounding. But I have found a map that shows which trails and parking lots require this fee and which do not. Those that do not require the fee (like the Hummocks Trail), don't even require the Northwest Forest Pass. Here's the map: http://www.mountsthelens.com/files/usda-monument-map.jpg. On the Eruption Trail I'd say there was a 60% compliance with the fee, despite threatening signs describing fines. We ate lunch at the high point and enjoyed the 360 views of Mount St. Helens and the blast zone. Then scampered back to the car and headed to the Hummocks Trail, which I think has even better views.