Loowit Loop Trail is a 33 mile lightly trafficked loop trail located near Cougar, Washington that features a lake and is only recommended for very experienced adventurers. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from July until September.

Length33.0 miElevation gain6,729 ftRoute typeLoop
BackpackingCampingHikingNature tripsBird watchingRunningForestLakeRiverViewsWaterfallWildflowersWildlifeBlowdownRockyScrambleSnowWashed outNo dogs
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Getting There

A federal Northwest Forest Pass is required to park here

Gifford Pinchot National Forest Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument 42218 Northeast Yale Bridge Road Amboy, WA 98601 Tel: 360.449.7871

From Vancouver, drive north on 1-5 to Highway 503 (Woodland, exit 21). Drive east 35 miles to Forest Service Road 83. Turn left and drive 6 miles to the signed trailhead on the left for June Lake (the shortest access on the south side).

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Reviews (103)
Photos (823)
Recordings (64)
Completed (209)
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Tina Oliva
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarOctober 5, 2020
BackpackingGreat!No shadeRockyScrambleWashed out

Varied scenery. I really liked the east side for scenery. We did it counter clockwise despite what everyone else was doing. Here’s why: we started at noon on October 2 so the sun was not as strong though forecast was for a high of 85. You hike in the forest for awhile and by the time you start going up you can catch some shade just due to the position of the sun. This side was DRY — NO WATER SOURCE untill AFTER windy pass (1/2 mile in blast zone) where you get a divine spring of ice cold water. Two more swiftly moving and silty rivers to hop over as you pass through the blast zone, which we crossed early in the morning so sun wasn’t too strong. Lots of crazy people RUNNING the trail. The long descent to the Toutle would be TERRIBLE walking up because it’s like a giant sand dune And you are staring into the sun getting fried. We thankfully were walking down this watching painful expressions coming up. Fill up every water bottle you have here because you won’t see anything else again till you get back to June lake. OH, and the red rope people tell you about at mile 9.4 : WAY better going counter clockwise- I would not have wanted to throw myself over with a heavy pack trusting someone else’s rope. I was able to climb up pretty easy and crawl my way to standing - not pretty but I did it ;) We did this in 17 hours - getting back to the car at 10:30am Sunday morning with two night camping because we could. Can be done in two days for sure with early starts. There is a lot of boulder field to cross if you start from June lake and it gets tedious but that’s just what it is.

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Bill Jensen
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarSeptember 29, 2020
HikingNo shadeRocky

With the news that the Timberline Trail was essentially closed due to all the recent wind fall, I opted to try the Loowit instead. My plan was to start at the June Lake trailhead (9/29/20) and hike clockwise, camping at the Toutle and the far side of the Plains of Abraham. How hard could it be? I did the Colorado Trail earlier this summer, so this should be a cake walk. Well, the boulder fields and ravines were tough. And then there was the ravine at mile 9.4 (south of the Sheep Canyon Trail). No way was I going to do that sketchy rope descent with a 30 lb. pack. And I'm not even sure the rope was long enough - I think the recent rains washed out the bottom of the ravine. I reluctantly turned around at about 3:30 and was able to make it back to Chocolate Falls before darkness descended. Night hiking the last boulder field didn't seem like a wise choice, so I set up camp. I was down to 0.5 liters of water, but the stream was now flowing (it was not when I crossed in the morning). Although the water was silty, I was able to get my Sawyer filter to work. Fortunately I had brought along my plunger and was able to backflush periodically. At about 10:00 PM the stream stopped flowing, but by then I had collected and filtered an adequate supply of water. The biggest disappointment was not getting to hike through the blast zone. I guess that I will just have to section hike the Loowit.

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Thor Orr
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSeptember 28, 2020
BackpackingGreat!RockyScrambleWashed out

I started 9/25/20 at windy ridge. From there went ccw, camped on the south fork of the river just past the restricted zone. 8am to 3pm about 12.5 miles. Wind and rain force me to make camp. Best section of the trail IMO lots of animals, the breach was amazing! Day two I broke camp around 8am and pushed all the way back to windy ridge 20 miles or so. Hit the car around 4:30pm. One thing I was not expect was all of the ravines! Probably crossed 20+! and due to the heavy rains the water crossing were interesting. I packed way too heavy anticipating taking three days to complete. I think with better weather and a lighter pack it would be doable in one day for an average hiker. Be smart about water, even with heavy rains there wasn’t much to be found. I didn’t see any water fit to drink even with a life straw from the breach to chocolate falls. Back side of the mountain was better as far as water goes. Overall an amazing hike!

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Ryan Bumgardner
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSeptember 8, 2020
HikingNo shadeRocky

Lots of sun exposure and limited water, if doing clockwise. Water at MM 13 & ~21. Good amounts of vertical exposure on some of the drop downs to the debris drainages. Sun exposure can’t be emphasized enough as can’t the lack of water. Beautiful views and plenty of good company as this trail is moderately traveled.

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Keli User
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSeptember 7, 2020
Hiking
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Sándor Lau
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSeptember 6, 2020
Backpacking
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Matt M.
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSeptember 6, 2020
BackpackingNo shadeRocky

Did this as an overnight Sept 5-6, starting from June Lake going clockwise. Day 1: June Lake to Toutle River, Day 2: Toutle River to June Lake. A gorgeous and difficult hike. Constantly changing views and landscapes...crossing the blast zone alone makes it worth it. To echo other reviews: be smart about water. I brought 2L thinking it would be enough between refill points, but if I did it again, 3L+ would have been worth the extra weight. Keep in mind that the terrain on much of this trail can slow you down --- boulder fields, soft silt, narrow rocky paths, and many ravines. In that sense, the mileage is deceiving --- it's ~33 total but between the terrain and the sun exposure, I suggest planning for it as if it's longer than that. I think clockwise is the way to go. That way, you get most of the boulder fields out of the way early, plus you get the loop's chiller, flatter stretches (north side, east side) on the second day, Definitely one of the coolest hikes I've ever done, but also one of the most challenging.

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Shawn Prime
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSeptember 5, 2020
BackpackingGreat!

Went September 3-4, counter clockwise from June Lake to Toutle, camping there, and then back to June Lake. Very challenging, very rewarding. The blast zone is incredible, and there are some incredible views along the way. I wish I had more water on me after June Lake. I only had about 1.5 liters, the water looked gross at June lake and I decided to skip it because I read that there was a source right afterward. There was not. I was very thirsty by the time I finally filled back up. Depending on how much weight you’re carrying, you’ll need more water. There were 3-4 water sources in the blast zone. Nothing from Toutle until about 3 miles away from June lake there was a muddy stream that started up late in the day. The lava rocks on the west side slow things down big time. If I were to do it again I would either take no overnight gear and make it a one day fast loop or make it a 2 night, camping immediately on both sides of the restricted area. One night wasn’t ideal **I FOUND A MULTITOOL ON THE TRAIL NEAR TOUTLE. IF YOU LOST YOURS, GET IN TOUCH AND DESCRIBE IT**

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Sándor Lau
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSeptember 5, 2020
Hiking
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Josh Powell
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSeptember 4, 2020
HikingGreat!No shade

Day 1 (14.5 Miles: 8 am - 5 pm) Started at Blue Lake trailhead and hiked the Toutle Trail North to the Loowit Trail junction near the Toutle River. Continued clockwise on the Loowit and camped a half mile past the Windy Pass summit at a small creek. Water available at the Toutle (silty), Loowit Creek (semi-silty), the spring (Wonderful, Clear, & Cold) a half mile past the Loowit Falls Trail, and the creek (clear with minimal flow) where I camped. Day 2 (17.5 Miles 8 am - 8 pm) Continued the Loowit Trail clockwise to the Butte Camp Trail (238A) junction. Hiked the Butte Camp Trail and the Toutle Trail back to the Blue Lake trailhead. Water available at Ape Canyon or Muddy River (semi-silty) past Pumice Butte and near the June lake trailhead. Boulder fields in this section slowed my pace considerably.

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Tricia Lynn
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarAugust 29, 2020
BackpackingGreat!No shadeRockyWashed out

This is a pretty awesome trail. The views throughout the entire hike were sweeping and amazing views. We started at June lake trailhead and went to the right at the Loowit Loop trailhead. Very hard hike but doable in two nights three days. We got water at Muddy River and at the South Fork river.

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Stephen Varady
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarAugust 28, 2020
BackpackingNo shadeRocky

This is an amazing loop but there is very little water in late August. We planned to do this over two nights from 8/28 to 8/30 but ended up pushing to the end on Saturday 8/29 due to lack of water. Starting at 2:30pm at June Lake and going clockwise, it’s mostly dry to South Toutle Fork (mile 13). There’s one silty stream after the first boulder field at mile ~4. At mile 6 we learned that all the streams were dry until Toutle, so we extended our hike 7 miles to make it to that water source. We arrived well after dark but found a nice camping spot and filled our 2 liters each of water. We drank lots of water and filled up again before hiking out in the morning. Second day was dry until the middle of the blast zone where there are a couple silty streams, but wait a little bit longer for the lovely freshwater spring at mile ~21. If you plan to camp a second night, I would load up all the water you need here and pack it out of the restricted area over Windy Pass. We did not do this and had to hike all the way out. The east side of the mountain is dry except for another silty stream at Muddy River. We otherwise really loved this hike and it would probably be incredible earlier in the season. Bring trekking poles if you have them. 3L+ for water if you plan to camp. Sunscreen. We found the ropes sections to be fun, but I could imagine parts being uncomfortable without poles.

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Clinton L
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarAugust 28, 2020
HikingGreat!

This is a stunning trail with lots of different challenges. Did this as a day hike yesterday. Started from the June Lake Trailhead at 542 am. Went clockwise to get the large boulder fields out of the way early. The first 5 miles or so are all uphill, but that's the bulk of the uphill for the day. Water was not an issue. Started with 2 liters and refilled at the Toutle River crossing after the 2nd rope descent. The trail gets pretty flat and relatively easy along the west side after the climb out of the Toutle River Canyon. The blast zone is spectacular and fairly straightforward. There are a few small gullies but nothing crazy. There is a great water source near the junction with the Loowit Falls Trail. After that is the last major section of uphill to the Loowit High Point. The Plains of Abraham had incredible views of the summit and also east to Adams as well as glimpses back north to Rainier. There are some truly epic campsites near Pumice Butte at the SE corner of the mountain. The going gets a bit tricky on the SE flanks. There are many gullies to negotiate. Some of them have very steep sides and narrow tread. There are also a few shorter sections of boulders to descend on the way back into the forest. Made it back to June Lake TH 10.5 hours after starting. Definitely one of the best hikes in the PNW. Highly recommend!

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Nathan McNeely
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarAugust 27, 2020

Awesome trail!... I wouldn't recommend to do the entire loop as a 'dayhike.' I am an avid hiker and it took me about 23 hours to do the loop (with about 2 hours of total breaks). Rousted a heard of elk, saw about a dozen mountain goats and heard a coyote (or wolf) howling at night! Hiking it clockwise is definitely a good idea.

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Josiah Niedrauer
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarAugust 14, 2020
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