Loowit #216- Butte Camp to Ptarmigan Trail

Area Status: Open

This 2.5 mile section of the Loowit Trail #216 begins at Butte Camp Trail #238A junction with the Loowit Trail and runs east to end at the Ptarmigan Trail #216A junction.

This section of the Loowit trail provides an invigorating and challenging hike across the rough terrain typical of a young volcano. The trail climbs over lava flows reminiscent of rock gardens thick with heather and delicate mosses. Here you can enjoy excellent views as you travel along the southern slope of Mount St. Helens. Pass through the tall spires of scattered subalpine firs and mountain meadows speckled with wildflowers. See the backbone of Monitor Ridge looming larger and larger on the horizon as you near the junction of Ptarmigan Trail #216A. 

This trail receives minimal maintenance and gains little elevation as it follows the timberline of Mount St. Helens. Steep ascents and descents can be expected over massive lava flows. The route is marked by wooden posts over sections with minimal trail tread. 

At a Glance

Current Conditions: 05/05/2023: The Loowit Trail is sitting under a deep snowpack, especially on the South side of the mountain. The snow depth at the Smith Creek SNOTEL station at 4,400 ft is currently reported at 196 inches while the station at June Lake at 3,440 ft is reporting 130 inches of snow. It will take a long time for this snow to melt, and when it does, the streams and rivers around the mountain will be running extremely high.
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-Medium
Best Season: Summer and Fall
Busiest Season: Summer
  • 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: Cougar, WA
Restroom: No
Operated By: Forest Service
Information Center:

General Information


Red Rock Pass Trailhead (Forest Road 81) - accesses Toutle Trail #238 which leads to Butte Camp Trail #238A.

Climbers Bivoac Trailhead - accesses Ptarmigan Trail #216A. (This trailhead is not recommended as it is very busy in the summer.)


Mountain Biking

Difficulty Level: Moderate


Difficulty Level: Moderate

Recreation Areas

Recreation Activities


  Area/Length : 
2.5 miles

  Elevation : 
4700' - 4800'