Tuesday, 13 April

⇒ For additional images, please visit the Loowit Trail loop hike Photo Gallery.

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After climbing the Mt Saint Helens volcano, a number of times over the years, I was ready to try some different kind of challenge. Hiking up the Ptarmigan trail, I have always been intrigued by the Loowit trail, which intersects the climbing route.

I started reading up about the Loowit trail, which is a 30-mile loop around the volcano. Trip reports rave about its diverse and stunning landscapes, but also warn about its difficulties and challenges.

Lewisville county Park in Battle Ground, WALewisville county Park in Battle Ground, WAIt is a beautiful weekday in the fall, the leaves in the trees are turning yellow. It is quieter at the park. The summer crowd is gone. But a number of cars can be seen parked at the various parking lots around the park. Older couples, ladies with their strollers, dog owners with their dogs, are enjoying the day on the many miles of beautiful trails along the river, around the open fields, and in the surrounding hilly forest.

The Tillamook Head trail spans between Indian Beach trail head at the Ecola state park, north of Cannon Beach, and the Tillamook Head trail head, south of Seaside.

This article is about a 4 mile in and out hike from the Tillamook Head trail head. The Ecola state park is currently, as of July 2020, closed due to the Covid-19 epidemic. The length of the whole trail is 6.3 miles, but many people seem to enjoy hiking the 4 mile in and out from the Seaside-end of the trail.

Tillamook Head trail headIf you are familiar with the Bells Mountain trail at Moulton Falls, near Yacolt, Washington, you will notice several similarities between these to trails. Both trails are traverse trails, about similar lengths. Both trails have a over a mile climb from respective trail heads (Tillamook Head and Moulton Falls).

This trail is not as steep and demanding as the Bells Mountain trail climb. The mile and three quarters climb is fairly steady, with switchbacks, so generous that people have started taking shortcuts between the switchbacks. The trail is more rugged than the Bells Mountain trail, with uneven, rocky and narrow passages. There are also many larger and smaller trees crossing the trail, you have to climb over or duck under the trees.

Higher up, in the rain-forestry setting, at least when I hiked it in the mid-morning, the trail was muddy, wet and slippery.

The 2-mile part of the trail was mostly in dense forest, with no exciting views. Once you reach the top, where the trail starts plateauing, there are ocean views, but it was too foggy on my hike, so I wasn’t able to see any of the ocean.

Tillamook head trail zig zagThat brings me to another issue, same as I ran into when hiking the Saddle Mountain trail hike. These trail heads have limited parking. If you arrive early, you will find parking, but most likely any views will be obstructed by fog. If you arrive later in the day, the fog would have lifted, but it’s hard to find parking.

Tillamook head trail As I mentioned, I only hiked 2 miles in, and turned back. Not much views, but still good exercise, and being close to the nature. This was a Saturday morning in July. I met very few hikers on my way up, but on my hike down, the trail was much busier. I met one couple carrying their surf boards, and overnight gear, heading for Indian Beach, and then another couple heading on an overnight hike. Most people were doing same as me, hiking up the climb and then turning around, just like many people do on the Bells Mountain trail.

I have been RV camping in Seaside for many years, never thinking that there would be nearby mountain hiking trails. Last year I hiked the Saddle Mountain trail, east of Seaside. It is quite a scenic hike. Unfortunately, the trail is closed this summer. And now I hiked the Tillamook Head trail for the first time. I highly recommend both trails! Hopefully they will be fully opened soon.

I am hoping to hike the whole Tillamook Head trail someday.

Tillamook trail tall trees

St Helens Crater Rim PanoramaIt is mid-august of 2016, and time to climb the Mt. St Helens Volcano again, my seventh time doing it!