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Loowit Falls

Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument

Southwest Washington/Mount St. Helens, Washington

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Loowit Falls

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  • The first half mile of the hike is on a gravel road.- Loowit Falls
  • At the junction with TR 216D, stay on the road to the right.- Loowit Falls
  • The road ends at the junction with Boundary TR 216. Keep left to stay on 216E.- Loowit Falls
  • Spirit Lake is visible from various points along the trail.- Loowit Falls
  • Large herds of elk are common in the late summer and fall.- Loowit Falls
  • Mountain goats grazing below snow level.- Loowit Falls
  • Spirit Lake from the trail to Loowit Falls.- Loowit Falls
  • Expect small stream crossings in the wet season.- Loowit Falls
  • Loowit Falls are visible from just after the last creek crossing.- Loowit Falls
  • Approaching the base of Loowit Falls.- Loowit Falls
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Great views of Mount St. Helens and the surrounding area. Chance to see mountain goats and elk.
Cons: 
Can be crowded in the summer.
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Region:
Southwest Washington/Mount St. Helens, WA
Congestion: 
Moderate
Pets allowed: 
No
Net Elevation Gain: 
480.00 ft (146.30 m)
Parking Pass: 
NW Forest Pass
Preferable Season(s):
Spring, Summer, Fall
Suitable for:
Hiking, Biking
Total Distance: 
8.40 mi (13.52 km)
Trail type: 
There-and-back
Trailhead Elevation: 
4,065.00 ft (1,239.01 m)
Current Local Weather:
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Hike Description

Hike Description

Contributor

The entire north slope of Mount St. Helens gave way on May 18, 1980, following a 5.1 earthquake, creating the largest landslide in recorded history. Nearly thee-quarters of a cubic mile of debris flowed northward, covering the western arm of Spirit Lake and filling the Toutle River valley with mud and ash that was up to 600 feet deep. Seconds later a massive, explosive eruption followed, sending a plume of ash 80,000 feet into the atmosphere, and knocking down 230 square miles of forest. 

This 8.5-mile hike takes you into the heart of the blast zone. The hike takes you through a dynamic, moonlike landscape of pumice planes, lava ridges, and rocky gash-like river channels. Along the way one is treated to sweeping views of Mount St. Helens, Mount Margaret Backcountry, and Spirit Lake. In the spring and early summer, displays of lupine, Indian paintbrush, and pearly everlasting add some unexpected color. In the late summer it is not unusual to see families of mountain goats and some of the largest herds of elk in the Pacific Northwest.

The apex of the hike is Loowit Falls, a dramatic 186-foot waterfalls issuing directly out of the crater. Loowit Falls has been in a state of constant change since its formation following the blast. As a result, it may look dramatically different from one year to the next, and it may disappear completely at some point.

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Updates, Tips + Comments

Field Guide + Trail Map

Field Guide + Trail Map

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Location + Directions

Location + Directions

Nearby Camping + Lodging

(7 within a 30 mile radius)

Nearby Adventures

(39 within a 30 mile radius)

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