Directions: Take I-5 North to exit 21 (Woodland/Highway 503) and follow Highway 503 East through the town of Cougar. Highway 503 turns into FR-90, continue on FR-90 and take a left onto Road 83 (signed for Ape Caves and Lava Canyon). Follow Road 83 for about 12 miles where you will reach the Lava Canyon Trailhead.
From the trailhead follow the paved path down a few switchbacks and to a viewing platform. There isn’t much of a view here but keep going on the trail to a junction. Go left here and the trail soon turns to dirt. A small part of the trail here can be dangerous so watch children and pets. Continue on the trail until you come to the large suspension bridge.
The bridge is quite narrow and has a good bounce to it. If you are not comfortable with heights it may not be a good idea for you to cross. You will be crossing over Lava Canyon and the Muddy River, you get great views the whole way! After crossing the bridge go right and follow the trail uphill, sometimes steeply. There are a couple areas with good views of the river and canyon. You will soon come to a set of stairs/metal ladder which heads up steeply.
From here it’s a short walk to the second bridge. It’s much lower and wider, with no bounce. You will be crossing over a very pretty part of the Muddy River and will also have great views from all directions. Head down the steps after crossing the bridge and back up to the junction. Go left here to hike back up the switchbacks to your car.
There are MANY warning signs along this trail, and for good reason. There have been many injuries and even a few deaths along this trail. We strongly encourage everyone to stay on the designated trails at all times!
Distance: 1.3 miles (easy)
Elevation: 500 feet (easy)
Pet Friendly: Yes but there are many dangerous spots on this trail for dogs.
Good For: May not be a good idea for young kids and older folks. Also people with height issues will have a struggle with the suspension bridge.
Bathrooms: There is a vault toilet at the trailhead. It was very dirty while we were here.
Parking Fee: $5 NW Forest Pass
Seasons: Late spring through fall. Call ahead, there are snow gates.