Loowit Trail


Backpack - Loowit Trail

Loowit Trail Mt. St. Helens National Volcanic Monument

COVID-19: Learn about our most up-to-date guidance for participants and leaders on our COVID-19 Response page. All participants and leaders must agree to the COVID-19 Code of Conduct before participating in this Mountaineers activity.
  • Strenuous
  • Elevation Gain: 6,300 ft
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.

Co-leader: Steve LeBrun

Thursday June 27th – Sunday June 30th Mt. St. Helens Loowit Trail; 32 miles roundtrip, 3-days on-trail; 6,300 feet elevation gain; pace 2.0 mph

We’ll walk the stark terrain all around the volcano, with perhaps some navigational challenges and little or no shade on open mountain slopes --- this is a stark sort of beauty, and sometimes difficult trail, but also somewhat of a unique experience and landscape.
We’ll car-pool on Thursday June 27th to the “Climbers Biviouac”, and camp overnight there (this is also our trailhead). Friday we’ll start our counter-clockwise hike with a planned 10+ miles to just past Pumice Butte. Saturday we’ll hike 12 – 13 miles to camp near the South Fork of the Toutle River. Sunday June 30th we’ll hike just under 9 miles back to the trailhead and drive back home.

This trip offers a different kind of beauty --- the guidebook author says it’s “sometimes stark and immense, sometimes colorful and delicate; a single flower in a field of stone”. It also offers the chance for some “barren trail” navigation issues: when trail isn’t visible, the group keeps a watch out for stone cairns or occasional wooden guideposts.
Some streams will be clear, others muddy or silty, so we’ll likely carry more water from each clear source than would otherwise be warranted. Hiking in late June, there could be some wet stream crossings. Note also that with 6300 feet of elevation gain over 32 miles, we’ll likely climb on average a bit over 2000’ per day. There are also stretches that are off-limits to camping, limiting our options somewhat, even areas where it’s forbidden to go off trail at all.
Side trips: It’s likely that we’ll offer a short optional side-trip climbing 300 extra feet in 0.7 mile to get a better view of Loowit Falls. This will likely happen the morning of the second day (Saturday).
Late June should be an excellent time to do this hike --- water sources should be flowing, and snow shouldn’t be an issue, particularly this year. However: I want to be clear that I’ve not hiked this trail before; this will be a voyage of discovery for likely all of us.

Meeting Time & Place: With a late afternoon start, we can’t rely on Park & Ride lots --- any given lot could be full. So we’ll coordinate ride sharing via email ahead of time. Plan to be collected as a carpool and driving south by 5 pm on July 27th, earlier if your carpool wants to stop for dinner en route (alternative is to bring and eat dinner where we’re camping). Traffic issues aside, it’s roughly a 3 hour drive, and it doesn’t get dark until after 9:30 pm.

More details about gear requirements and assistance with food planning and packing will be included in leader emails prior to the trip. The trip may be cancelled or the destination changed if weather looks to be very inclement.


Loowit Trail

Required Equipment

Required Equipment

The Ten Essentials
Trip Reports