Location: Gorge Creek Trail parking lot and trail head
Elevation: 290m / 951ft
Time: 4 – 5 hours
The Volcano Ridge Trail is a great choice for early spring when the higher elevation hikes are still full of snow and mud. Begin at the Gorge Creek Trail parking lot and follow the Gorge Creek Trail to the Gorge Link Trail that heads to the right. There are some gorgeous falls and wildflower-filled meadows within the first ten minutes of this trip so you don’t have to go a long way for beautiful scenery.
There is an easy creek crossing (or two depending on the time of year) so I brought some alternate shoes to wear in the water and left them hidden by a tree to dry for the way back. It’s an easy crossing, just a bit chilly on the feet! Watch kids and animals closely as they cross.
The Gorge Link Trail leads to a fork. Go left for the Volcano Ridge Trail or continue right on the Gorge Link Trail. Both lead to the Link Creek Trail forming a loop, which makes for a much longer hike if you have the time and the proper fitness level. We decided to take the Volcano Ridge Loop in and back so we had time for a fire afterwards.
The trail begins fairly flat with gorgeous foliage and follows a winding creek. We saw a brown bear with two cubs in the area as well as deer and other wildlife, so be prepared with bear spray and keep your wits about you. It comes to an abrupt climb as you near the end of the trail, not a scramble but definitely a workout for the legs!
Overall the hike was enjoyable but I would choose a more scenic trail if it was later in the season. For early spring this is a perfect location and it’s unpopulated, which is always a plus in my books. Just keep the elevation gain in mind!