Loowit Creek harbors about four significant waterfalls as it spills out of the crater of Mount St. Helens, with two of them being essentially inaccessible. Loowit Falls is the major attraction in the immediate area, while Lower Loowit Falls is only seen by hikers who choose to traverse the blast plain below the breached crater via the round-the-mountain Loowit Trail. While nowhere near the size of its upstream sibling, Lower Loowit Falls is significant enough to warrant attention.
Like Loowit Falls, the lower falls along the creek is at the mercy of its own blade. The 1980 eruption was caused when an earthquake triggered the largest recorded landslide in modern history on the north side of the mountain, which coupled with the material ejected by the eruption buried the landscape north of the mountain in rock, ash and pumice hundreds of feet deep. Once the mountain settled down Loowit Creek quickly got to work scouring a canyon through this material, eventually wearing down to bedrock in several places, including at Loowit Falls and here at the lower falls near the mouth of the canyon. Because so much of this relatively unstable and easily eroded debris is still present along the banks of Loowit Creek, constant avalanches and landslides spill into the canyon, altering the path of the creek in many places. Since 1994 Lower Loowit Falls has retreated upstream by over 100 feet, during which time it has altered its appearance and reduced its stature. In August 2011 we measured the plunge at about 35 feet tall, but at one time it may have been as much as 100 feet tall - a huge pile of boulders now lies at the base of the falls, causing the falls to appear quite a bit less significant than it had been (and hopefully will be in the future).
- Lower Loowit Falls is the Unofficial name of this waterfall.
From the town of Randle, follow FSR #25 south towards Mt. St. Helens National Volcanic Monument (Windy Ridge) for 19 miles and turn right onto FSR #99, signed for Mount St. Helens and Windy Ridge. Follow Road 99 to its end at Windy Ridge and begin hiking along the Truman Trail at the south end of the parking lot, following signs pointing to Loowit Falls at all trail junctions. For the first two miles it follows the old road. At the first junction stay right, then at the second junction at the end of the old road (where there may be a few cars parked) stay left. At the third junction the Loowit Trail will be intersected, 2 3/4 miles from the parking lot. Head right and reach the Loowit Falls Trail in another 3/4 mile. Continue downhill along the Loowit Trail for another mile, staying left where the Willow Springs Trail intersects, to the ford of Loowit Creek in the blast plain at the very foot of the breached crater. Lower Loowit Falls will be visible about 1/3 of a mile due south. From this point the shortest route back to the Windy Ridge parking lot is about 4 miles via the Willow Springs Trail and the Truman Trail, making the loop about 9 miles total.