This is an incredible route for getting a sense of the total devastation from the 1980 eruption. You'll hike with the crater in front of you or on your right most the way, then turn towards the east mountains as you make your way to Harry's Ridge. From Harry's Ridge you'll view the crater, Spirit Lake with logs from the eruption still sliding across the lake back and forth with the wind, and on up towards the furthest parts of the damage.
Along the way, in the right season, you'll find berries and wildlife. If you're lucky, you'll return as the Elk head off the mountain into the valley to feed and rest for the night - they'll be on your right most the way back.
Total time on the trail includes plenty of dawdling: taking pictures, relaxing on Harry's Ridge, watching the sunset & the elk feeding. Easily a couple hours could be saved off for the focused hiker. Also, there's a part of the trail early on that has a lengthy piece of trail on a steep gravely mountainside - not the best if you fear heights or have kids probably. Take care when passing others.Trip begins at Johnston Ridge Observatory and ends at Parking Lot.