Gifford Pinchot – Loowit Trail

Location Gifford Pinchot National Forest, ID
June Lake trailhead
Distance 29 miles
Total Elevation Gain 6350 ft
Topographic Map

One of my favorite trails of 2018. The round-the-mountain of Mount Saint Helens is stunning. Fall makes the views especially vibrant.

The trail itself is certainly not empty. There are many entry points to the loop and this results in trail runners and day hikers–since you’re never really able to put miles between you and a trailhead. However, there were surprisingly few actual backpackers.

The route itself is fairly straightforward, with only one section that require cairn hunting, and only two or so steep climbs. There are a few sections of the trail which require rope-assisted downclimbing. It was nothing I would classify as “scary”, but someone afraid of heights or unsteady might have a bad time.

  • Water availability late season could be a concern. When I was there in late September there were a few trickling streams. Call the FS.
  • I went counter-clockwise, which I think is the superior direction. The breach zone reveals itself in a more fantastic way. However, this makes the last day a bit of a rock scrambling slog.
  • I did this in two days, but three is way better. The views made me want to spend more time here.
  • Be aware of the protected zone between Windy Ridge and Toutle River when determining daily milage. No camping is allowed in the area north between these sections. There is signage to indicate this.

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