Lava Canyon

Length: 5 miles round trip

Location: Cougar Washington

I’ll start by saying this hike gets pretty dangerous if you go into the lower level of the canyon. The upper portion is dog friendly but, unless your dog is well-behaved I wouldn’t recommend taking them to the lower canyon where you are walking on a path maybe a foot or 2 in width with about a 200-300 ft drop below.


On the way back up the canyon we witnessed a rescue of a young man who fell, probably 100 ft, we asked about him and one of the rangers said that he was breathing and they were still trying to get to him. Make sure you are obeying the rules and sticking to the path, there have been several fatalities around this hike.

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Yes, I was one of those crazy adventurers who strapped my dog in and had him carried down a 30 foot ladder to get him into the lower level of the canyon where he stayed strapped to my bag along the cliff edges.  However, my dog has been hiking since I got him as a puppy. He is also very well-behaved and extremely calm. If I didn’t have 100% trust in my dog, I wouldn’t have taken him down there where he could easily pull me off the edge. He loves it and it was also his first time going over a suspension bridge. He did very well and crawled all the way across. If you have a fear of heights, I don’t recommend descending into the lower level of the canyon.

The first part of the hike is an easy paved path, ending at a beautiful view of one of the many waterfalls. This is a perfect hike for kids and dogs. If you wish, continue following the narrowing trail along the rushing river; not to long into the hike you will come to the suspension bridge. Here, anyone with a fear of heights should turn around. Its 125 ft long and about 150 ft above the river. Admire the awesome view and try not to focus too much on the swaying of the bridge holding you up by a few cables. After you have successfully crossed the bridge proceed on the narrow path for a while and you will then come to a 30 foot ladder that you will have to climb down. Shortly after the ladder the trail comes to a T, go to the right and you will come to another ladder (many people are unaware of this view point). This time you will have to climb up. This will take you to the most breath-taking view of the hike.


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Throughout the hike, there is many amazing views, we ended up finding a spot in the river that we were able to dip in and eat some food while allowing Marley to cool down with a swim. The hike isn’t to hard, I have done hikes that took much more energy, but I can’t say it enough, that these views are not something you want to miss.

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Happy hiking!