Loowit Trail #216- Windy to Castle Ridge Trail

Area Status: Open

This 7.8 mile section of the Loowit Trail #216 begins at its junction with Windy Trail #216E and ends at the Castle Ridge Trail #216G junction.  

Hike into the very heart of the blast zone on this section. Discover how a debris avalanche, a pyroclastic flow and a mudflow transformed the features of the area forever. Obtain views of Loowit Falls and the steaming dome and crater of Mount St. Helens. Learn about the important research taking place that enables scientists to unlock many of the mysteries surrounding volcanic eruptions. 

This intermittently maintained trail traverses the pumice plain and broken terrain in front of Mount St. Helens. The trail is subject to washouts. The route is marked by wooden posts and rock cairns. 

At a Glance

Current Conditions: 6/30/22: A particularly snowy winter and spring has resulted in challenging conditions on the Loowit Trail. Areas with tree cover along the West side will likely have a considerable amount of downed trees and will retain snow into early July. Trailwork will be delayed, or may not occur at all. In addition, fall atmospheric river events may have caused significant washouts and the trail will be hard to discern in areas, particularly those with volcanic ash and pumice on the North end of the loop. Travel with caution.
Fees: No fee or pass required for trail use, however a $5/vehicle/day or a valid Recreation Pass required at some access points including Ape Canyon Trailhead, Climber's Bivouac Trailhead and Windy Ridge Interpretive Site. See Mount St. Helens Map for fee and payment sites.
Usage: Light
  • Off-trail travel, dogs, bicycles, camping, fires and livestock are prohibited to protect sensitive natural features and scientific studies between Windy Pass and the South Fork Toutle River. This 10 mile section must be completed in one day.  See Mount St. Helens Map for information.
  • Research permits are required for off-trail travel. 
Closest Towns: Randle WA and Cougar WA
Water: No
Restroom: No
Operated By: Forest Service
Information Center:

General Information


Closest trailhead for Windy Trail 216E is at Windy Ridge Interpretive Site. (Fee site)

Closest trailhead for Castle Ridge Trail 216G, is Blue Lake Trailhead. (No Fee)



Difficulty Level: Difficult

Recreation Areas

Recreation Activities


  Area/Length : 
7.8 Miles

  Elevation : 
3800' - 4560'