Loowit Loop Trail

HARD 9 reviews

Loowit Loop Trail is a 27.3 mile lightly trafficked loop trail located near Stevenson, 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.

DISTANCE
27.3 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
6922 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Loop

birding

hiking

nature trips

trail running

walking

forest

lake

views

wild flowers

wildlife

rocky

no dogs

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).

backpacking
3 months ago

I did this loop in the summer of 2015 when it was very dry and water sources were limited.. Previous to my trip, I did quite a bit of research and was running into different reviews describing a wide spectrum of difficulties and troubles. I found that the trip isn’t that difficult with proper planning and I’m writing this review with some detail to try to help others who are thinking of going. The two biggest issues you have to deal with on this loop are 1) Access to filterable water and 2) traversing glacial washes and I’ll give my experience with both.

Before I do that I just want to say this trip was one of my favorites so far. It has a wide variety of landscape and terrain. There is the massive ravine of the Toutle wash, the devastation of the blast area, many boulder fields, and majestic veiws of Mt. Adams to the east. Every side of the mountain is different and interesting. Check out my photos!

First dealing with the wash/ravine crossings. Here is a link to current trail conditions. https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/giffordpinchot/alerts-notices/?cid=fseprd492502 There are many glacial runoffs around the mountain which have dug ravines that must be traversed by going down one side of the ravine, crossing the stream, and climbing up the other side. The majority of the crossings have gentle slopes and easy stream crossings. This can change as the water reshapes the ravines.

In 2015 when I went there were two significant ravine crossings. One was at Blue Lake Wash on the south side of the mountain, where the trail detours a ½ mile downhill, following the ravine to a crossable spot and then back up the other side. The other is at South Fork Toutle river. Either might have ropes to help you get down and back up. Neither is technical and can probably be traversed without the ropes, they just might it easier to do. I was also able to cross every stream without fording, but your results may vary depending on the time of year and day when you cross. The above forest service trail report seems to make it sound dangerous at parts, but it really isn’t. If you are an intermediate hiker with experience, the traverses should be no trouble.

Second is the issue of water sources. The above forest service conditions page lists the year round water sources on the trail. It’s important to note that there are many streams along the trail, but almost all of them are glacial runoff and are filled with dirt and sand which will quickly clog and ruin your water filter and are hence unusable. I met two guys on the east side of mountain towards the end of the day who hadn’t prepared properly and didn’t know where the clean water locations and had tried to pump muddy water, clogging their filter. They had about 1 litre each of water to get them back out to their car, so they were safe, though their trip was over prematurely. I recommend assuming that you will only be able to get water at the listed sources. It’s what I did and with a bit of planning it worked out just fine.

I started out by having a gallon of water at my car. I chose to start my trip at the Climber’s Bivouac. I carried 2 litres of water on me which I knew would get me to the first water source and camp site just south of the Toutle river crossing. There I got enough water for my evening/morning meals. In the morning I once again carried 2 litres of water as I knew this would get me the 8 miles up to the spring on the north side in the blast zone. It is a very nice cold spring, right on the trail, and the water is great on a hot summer day. Since the spring is in the blast zone, you aren’t allowed to camp there.

If you started at Climber’s Bivouac as I did, it is important to note that this spring is your last water source before you reach your car. If you do get in a bind, you can drop down to June Lake on the south side for water if needed. I instead decided to load up all the water I would need for the remainder of my trip at this spring. This required 6 litres of water by my calculations. 1 to get me to my camp for the night, 2 litres for dinner/breakfast, and 2 more to get to my car the next day where I had the remainder of my gallon of water. I added a sixth for fudge room. The big downside to this method is that you are carrying close to 20 pounds of water for few miles from the spring up over windy pass down to campsites near the Ape Canyon Trail. But so is life.

People will hike the trail both directions, though after doing the math, I chose clockwise from Climber’s Bivouac as this made gave me the shortest possible mileage while carrying 20 pounds of water. If it’s your first time out, you can just follow the way I did it and have a great time, getting a look and the trail and maybe doing a different way the next time.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

it's a really cool experience and the land scape is like no other I would recommend going on days that are gonna be in the 70s it's really barren but worth the hike Mt. St. Helens is Beautiful to look at its crazy to see the different land scape

Sunday, August 02, 2015

Various landscapes make this 3 day hike exciting and suspenseful.

hiking
Thursday, July 03, 2014

Loves this hike yesterday July 2, 2014 just past the twin lakes near the old seizment antennas I heard a black bear growl at me three times. What a way to add excitement to a long days hiking. Bear spray and hiding in the wild flowers helped me hide from him but not his stinky smell. Pee uuuuu.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

I did this trail 6/14/14 with a group of 4 others as a day hike. The trail is extremely rough this time of year with snow remaining in most of the ravines and some of the tree covered areas and the trail washed out in dozens of locations in and out of the ravines. Even when the trail is in good shape it is a challenge with long sections of rock-hoping and tough ascents/descents into and out of the various ravines and canyons. You are constantly giving back all of the elevation gains over and over, which is tough to stomach after 15 or 20 miles. There are sections of loose pumice that are like climbing sand dunes, the weather is ever changing and the trail has a tendency to just disappear as noted by previous reviewers. All in all, I would rate this trail as the most difficult one I have ever done as it just seems to keep throwing obstacles at you over and over again. Whatever time you may have allotted is not going to be enough and you will be simply amazed at how little distance you gain over an hour in some sections, most notably on the South side of the mountain, with the toughest section being between Ape Canyon and June Lake. We did that section in the dark as it turned out.
It's an amazing opportunity to be able to circumnavigate a mountain of this character and geological interest, with mountain goats, glaciers, lava flows, waterfalls...you name it, MSH has it. But just be forewarned, this trail will test you in ways you've likely not been tested before.

trail running
Monday, September 24, 2012

The trail is in excellent shape. Starting at June Lake and going Clockwise there is good clean water at 1/3 and 2/3 the way around. This also puts the tough boulder fields in the beginning of your loop so they are much easier.

hiking
Thursday, August 09, 2012

July 28-30, 2012 - We started at June Lake Trailhead. Camped 7.5 miles in (4 hours) - Plains of Abraham as there is no camping for ten miles once you enter the restricted area. We hiked 15 miles (10 hours) the 2nd day and water was scarce. The South Toutle River area was treacherous and scary. We camped about 3 miles past the river and completed 12.5 (8 hours) miles the last day, stopping at Chocolate Falls for lunch. Awesome trail but washouts have changed the route and can be confusing if you have your face in a map. Our Green Trails map was not accurate in a huge washout area just past the South Toutle crossing. Sunscreen and a hat are a must. Get water when you see it. We easily drank 3 liters per day and cooked with at least that each meal. We only passed 4 other groups of two and three hikers on the entire loop - camping near trailheads was crowded, though. Excellent, challenging hike - my pack was 42.5lbs and hubby's was 45lbs at start.

hiking
Saturday, March 03, 2012

I've hiked the trail twice using June Lake trail as my access point. Neither time was I able to complete the hike in one day. The first trip was under mostly cloudy skies with rain for about 25 percent. The second trip was under clear skies. Lots of up/down thru ravines - slows down the pace. The ascent out of the South Toutle seems to take forever. The trail had deteriorated some between the time of the two hikes

hiking
Monday, August 23, 2010

This is usually a well maintained trail around Mt St. Helens. We went during the summer following some severe winter storms and lost the trail several times because of wash outs, fallen trees and fallen rocks. It was still an amazing trail and I highly recommend it. Make sure you carry a lot of water during the summer because most of the maps that show water are incorrect.