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Trip Report

Loowit Trail

South Cascades

Trip Report By

Hiked Jul 20, 2020

Type of Hike

Multi-night backpack

Trail Conditions

Trail in good condition

Road

Road suitable for all vehicles

Bugs

Bugs were not too bad

Snow

Snow free

Started from Windy Ridge viewpoint/trailhead and traveled clockwise. Like the previous trip report from Alvarado, I overpacked in training for the Wonderland Trail and severely regretted it. 

Things to keep in mind: The trail is rough at times crossing boulder fields and lahars, including sometimes via descents and ascents with a rope. Much of the trail is exposed to the sun, and water sources in some spots are dry now. Those running are detailed below. Bring adequate water and refill when you can, plan to go much slower than your typical pace, and use plenty of sunscreen. Flowers were out but were best on the East and Northwest portions of the Loowit trail. 

I took the Abraham Trail for more flowers off of Windy Ridge and after a short steep climb it was very pleasant. Camped at Pumice Butte 4.9 miles in the first night. Water here was slowed to a small trickle but some folks were filtering from it. The campsite features outstanding views of Adams and Helens, with an angle on Hood as well. Second day I did 17 miles all the way to the Toutle River. This day involved boulder fields and lahar crossings galore which slowed progress. Water sources on this portion included: Shoestring Creek (I think, I didn't check exactly which stream it was), June Falls if you wanted to descend to it, Chocolate Falls (Best source I saw), and one more small stream somewhere between Ptarmigan Trail and Sheep Canyon. Time of day will make these vary potentially. 

Toutle River is the last spot you can camp before the restricted zone so I made camp there that night. The rope descent, crossing, and ascent at Toutle were no problem in both the afternoon and the following morning. Refill water here for sure though. Third day after crossing in the dark at about 4:00am I climbed up to the meadows in the Northwest. Lupin and strawberry plants abound but most of all so do ELK! Dozens and dozens of them bugling to each other and running in full herds across the valleys. I didn't see another person for 3.5 hours that day so I think I may have been one of the only to experience this. Do yourself a favor and if your itinerary allows, make it a point to get up early and try to catch this display. 

The meadows turn slowly into oscillating small climbs and ascents and then a small lava rock field (Not boulder hopping like the South) with a few good streams shortly before the Sasquatch Steps. Final portion to reconnect was easy and included a couple more water sources in the Northeast.

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