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Loowit Trail
2 Photosets

mini location map2019-07-09
17 by photographer avatarkeepmoving
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Loowit TrailVolcano, WA
Volcano, WA
Backpack29.25 Miles 6,259 AEG
Backpack29.25 Miles2 Days         
6,259 ft AEG19 LBS Pack
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
July 9th
Started the loop around Mt. Saint Helens from the June Lake Trailhead on an overcast Tuesday afternoon. Although there are multiple access points to the trail, June Lake is both the most convenient access point from Portland, as well as the shortest connection to the Loowit Trail, so it was an easy choice for me. My plan for the first day was to go clockwise and camp at the South Fork of the Toutle River, where I could filter water. Then on day two I would do the whole blast zone and complete the loop.

Around the south side of the mountain, the Loowit passes through varied terrain- lava fields, dense forest, and wide open grasslands. It's never boring and I never knew what view to expect next. Just a couple of miles into my hike it started to lightly rain, so I donned my rain gear and plodded on. There are several steep gullies that the trail crosses through, some of which have rope set up to make the ascent/descent easier, but I didn't find any of them to be super difficult.

I arrived at the South Fork just a bit before dark. By this point it was steadily raining- so after filtering some water I quickly set up my tent and retreated inside for the remainder of the evening.

July 10th
I woke up around 0430 to a break in the rain. Although I was tempted to lay in bed a bit longer, I decided it was best to break camp while the rain was stopped than to risk getting more sleep and have to deal with the rain later. I threw my wet gear into my pack, filtered water one last time at the river, then crossed it and headed up the trail on the far side.

The climb out of the Toutle River valley was a bit rough on legs that hadn't fully warmed up yet, but the view from the top was spectacular. A low fog was blowing over the valley and added a bit of an ominous feel to the scene. Once I reached the top, the trail began to level out and passed through small patches of meadows and wildflowers. I spotted my first couple of elk and then a short time later I spotted a couple mountain goats on a scree slope above the river.

Continuing through the blast zone, I passed herd after herd of elk. I counted almost 100 of them before I decided there were just too many and gave up. I had expected this area of the trail to be more rugged and devoid of life, but there are quite a few wildflowers sprinkled throughout the area. I made the scenic detour up to Loowit Falls, but the fog was so thick I didn't get a good look at them, although I did surprise a family of goats that were lingering in the middle of the trail.

Approaching Windy Pass the sun finally decided to come our (briefly) and I was able to catch a glimpse of Spirit lake. After a brief break at the top, I quickly descended down to the Plains of Abraham as the wind kicked up, clouds blew in, and it started raining again. I had already hiked the Loowit on the east side of the mountain back in 2014, so I didn't mind just putting my head down and plodding on in the rain. Before I knew it I was back at the June Lake junction and then it was a quick trip back down past the day hikers to the trailhead.
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Substantial
Lupine, Phlox, Indian Paintbrush, Beargrass, etc...
HAZ Member
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