Loowit Trail


Backpack - Loowit Trail

A strenuous backpack circumnavigating Mount St. Helens.

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  • Fri, Jul 7, 2017 — Sun, Jul 9, 2017
  • Foothills Backpacking Committee
  • Backpacking
  • Singles, 20-30 Somethings, Retired Rovers, Adults
  • Very Strenuous
  • Challenging
  • Mileage: 25.8 mi
  • Elevation Gain: 5,423 ft

Climber’s Bivouac Trailhead at 9:30 AM

A scenic and challenging backpack around Mt. St. Helens volcano at elevations ranging from 3,200 ft to 4,800 ft with views of Mount Hood, Mount Rainier, Mount Adams and the Goat Rocks Wilderness. It also allows views into Mount St. Helens crater on the north side. Hike through old growth forests, cross remnants of lava flows, lahars (mudflows), and pyroclastic flows, as well as fording stream gullys and the South Fork of the Toutle River. Enjoy wildflower meadows, the effects of the 1980 eruption, and the recovery of native plants and wildlife.

We will use the Ptarmigan Trail to access the Loowit Trail, then hike clockwise.

Day 1:  Hike about 9.5 miles, ascending about 3,000', descending about 3,500' and camp at South Fork Toutle River.

Day 2:  Hike about 9.1 miles, ascending about 2,900' and descending about 1,500' and camp and near Pumice Butte.

Day 3:  Hike about 9.8 miles, ascending about 2,700' and descending about 3,200' to return to cars and drive home.  

Route conditions include rough and steep terrain, exposed slopes, loose rock and soil (scree), stream crossings, and potential volcanic hazards.

Leader permission is required, which you can obtain by sending an e-mail to the leader.

I expect low overnight temperatures will be in the 30s. You should check the current weather report shortly before departure: 

 Rain should be expected, and you should bring rain coat, rain pants, and pack cover and clothes that will keep you warm when wet (no cotton!). The trip is subject to change or cancellation if the predicted weather is unusually poor.

Conditioning:  This trip requires excellent conditioning.  We will average about 2 mph on the trail, including breaks, though less in some of the very rough trail sections.  You should be able to climb Mt. Si with a full backpack in 3 hours or less, and be able to repeat the climb on the next day.

Other gear notes:

1. Bear canisters are not required.  We will hang our food each night.   I plan to bring my Ursack. 

2. You should bring some method of water purification.

3. Bugs are certainly possible; bring bug repellant.

4. To reduce pack weight, you should consider sharing gear, especially stoves, cooking pots, water filters, and tents. About 2 weeks before the trip, I will send an E-mail to all. If you are interested in sharing any items, Reply All to this E-mail, describing gear you would like to provide for sharing or if you are interested in sharing another’s gear. Sharers should make arrangements directly with any interested people.

5.  We may camp some distance from water, so you should bring containers sufficient to carry 1 gallon of water.  

Although open to all club members over age 18, this trip is also part of the B3 Backpacking Building Blocks series and eligible for B3 course credit.



Loowit Trail

Required Equipment

Required Equipment

The Ten Essentials plus overnight gear which may include:

  • Tent 
  • Stove and fuel
  • Sleeping bag
  • Sleeping pad
  • Water filter or other method of water treatment
  • Bear canister or extra stuff sack and cord designated for hanging food
  • Cooking pot/pan and utensils
  • Toilet paper and shovel or blue bag to deal with waste
Trip Reports