We’re all about unique fall hikes, whether you want something scenic or spooky, there are tons of trails to explore in Washington. But what about heading underground? Washington’s Ape Cave is calling and it just so happens to be the third-longest lava tube in North America.

In settler history, Ape Cave was discovered by a logger in 1947 and later explored by a scout troop in the 1950s. So while recently discovered, this cave has been around a long time. It formed about 2,000 years ago during one of Mount St Helen’s eruptions and may have had lava flowing through it for a whole year.

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These days you don’t have to worry about lava as the cave is a heavily trafficked part of Gifford Pinchot National Forest. If you’re brave enough you can explore the 2.5 miles of caves. You’ll walk along a chilly, pitch-black corridor deep beneath the forest floor. Best of all is that you can choose between the 3/4 mile long Lower Cave for an easier trek or the 1.5 mile Upper Cave which involves some navigation over rock piles and scaling an 8-foot rock wall for a true cave experience.

Cave visits are typically a minimum of an hour and a maximum of a few hours depending on where you choose to explore. You’ll need to come prepared with your own headlamps or flashlights as there are no lights in the cave. You’ll also definitely want to bring layers as the cave temperature is 42 degrees year-round.

Keep in mind, the cave closes on October 1st so you’ll need to visit this gem between now and September 30th if you’d like to explore it this year. You can learn more and snag reservations below. Have fun down there folks!

Ape Cave

When: Until September 30th
Where: Gifford Pinchot National Forest, WA
Cost: $2 admin fee for reservations, Other park fees and passes may be necessary