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Loowit Falls, Mount Saint Helens

A hike from The Johnston Ridge Observatory, across the pumice planes, and part way up Mt. Saint Helens to Loowit Falls.
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Rating: 5 out of 5 by EveryTrail members
Difficulty: Strenuous
Length: 8.5 miles
Duration: Full day

Overview:  A great hike from the Johnston Ridge Observatory, across the pumice planes in the devastated area destroyed in the 1980 eruption, and ... more »

Tips:  Bring lots of water and sunscreen because there is no shade on this hike. Get up early because this is a full day hike and you will... more »

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Points of Interest

1. Johnston Ridge Observatory 4,314 ft

Visit here the day before your hike and pay your fee ($8 per adult 16 and over). Grab a trail map and take a look around at the great exhibits. The next morning, you want to be on the trail before the Observatory opens. If you are here when it opens (10 am) get moving quickly as this is an all day hike). Open mid May through October. Check... More

2. Mt. St. Helens Memorial

Stop here and read the names of the 57 people who died in the May 18, 1980 eruption. It's a good time to stop and remember that you are hiking in the blast zone of an active volcano. Be careful and be aware of what is happening on the mountain.

3. Panoramic View

A great place to see a 36o degree panoramic view of Mt. Saint Helens and the surrounding mountains. There is wheelchair access up to this point and the grade is easy. This is the place to bring your large groups who do not want to hike the trails.

4. Shortcut To Parking Lot On Return!

On the way back, take this junction to the right to shortcut to the parking lot without going up to the Observatory. You'll thank me later when your feet are sore. Also, if you don't want to go to the Observatory, the lookout, or the Memorial you can start your hike on this path right off the parking lot.

5. Trail Heading Down

The trail down the ridge is mellow and a great stroll. If you only have an hour or so, just hike down this trail and turn around when you have to. This segment of the hike is about a mile with about 300 feet decrease in elevation.

6. Flower Covered Mountainside

One of the Gems of the hike is this mountainside covered in wildflowers.

7. An Amazing Trail

The wildflowers along this part of the trail are wonderful to walk through.

8. Trail 207 Junction

You want to head down and to your right at this junction. Elevation 4,100 ft.

9. Spirit Lake Viewpoint

A great view of Spirit Lake.

10. Moss Lined Creek

A beautiful moss lined creek with flowers all around.

11. Trail Junction

You just have about three quarters of a mile until the start of the Loowit Trail. This is the way you are going, but don't be confused, the Loowit Trail is a trail circumnavigating the mountain. You will be on it for a very short time before going up to the falls. This stretch of trail is Trail 207A on you trail map.

12. Researchers On The Trail

You will often find teams of researchers studying the regrowth. They carry long sticks so they can poke around under brush and into the dirt.

13. Moss and Flower Lined Trail

The "Pumice Plains" are not pumice anymore. Green moss covers the ground and baby trees and beautiful wildflowers spread out for miles.

14. Loowit Falls Overlook

The trail just ends here and Loowit Falls is over a ravine full of raging water. Be very careful around here as the footing is loose gravel and dirt.