I have been through the Ape Caves seven times and that was just lately. It is a lot of fun to take first timers so anytime I find someone who hasn't gone and is interested we go. This is a fun outing any time of year. Although, in the winter the lower gate is closed so you have to walk an extra mile up the road to get to the cave entrance. If there is snow on the ground in the parking lot, don't plan on using the trail, unless you have snow shoes you'll have to return through the cave instead of using the trail. The earlier you start, the less foot traffic there will be. Personally, I am always at the entrance by 8am. A helmet is advisable but they're not cheap so if this is the only time you would use it you can do without. A hat will help protect your head from bumps but you don't want to use a hat with a bill that would obstruct your vision which will cause you to just bump your head even more. A head lamp will leave your hands free, highly recommended. Lanterns are almost useless. A super bright light will only ruin the vision of others in your party. Normal light strength will suffice. If it's raining above ground, it'll be dripping below ground. The trail back is a beautiful hike, I prefer to go up through the cave and return on the trail as it is all down hill then.
Lots of fun for just about anyone. The drive from Portland is about 90 minutes, and worth it. Two routes in the cave: one is easy and good for families with small children or folks who aren't very athletic, the other includes scrambles over fallen rock and a climb up a lava fall. It's always cold down there (42 F), and the terrain is rough. Full length pants and hiking boots are a good idea. Use a headlamp if you can, to leave your hands free for climbing, if you take the difficult route. Plenty of parking in the upper and lower lots. Pit toilets but no running water. Battery lanterns are available for rent when the visitor center is open.
Fun place! Definitely want Bright lights, preferably lanterns for the 360 lighting, no bats found and walking it wasn't too bad. Definitely do not recommend kids under 5, the walk is a bit much for them. Bathrooms prior to caves are BAD so go before you get there :) pics are just outside the caves
Put this in your bucket list of you are a hiker.😍 Located south to my st Helens, this is a unique hike. Lower caves are very easy, they might seem hard but believe me if you do upper caves then you'll know what i meant . It's better to do the upper caves from the upper caves entry point, than continuing along the lower caves and getting out from the entry point. There is one spot which was very hard for us to move up, but we got help from other amazing hikers that were at the cave. No bats were seen, but it's a amazing experience. Don't forget your hiking partners for this caves. 😇😇
A group of teenagers were at the end of the easy cave walk and offered me a "dab". Though I may partake outside of caves, for its legal here, the last thing i wanted to do was smoke in a cave... 2 miles down with no ventilation other than the opening, for all other cave walkers (children included) to be subject to. If you're a stoner looking to adventure nature... don't freaking smoke in the cave. don't vape in it either. you're a grade a douche for doing so. regardless... Make sure to care for the BATS! Youre in their territory. Love the caves, hate the humanity that you can meet 2 miles into the earth.