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Upper Saint Kitts & Nevis Canyon Falls off the beaten path on another delightful day hike.

ROUTE: Walk past the sign a long 5 mi N to Blue Lake over the rocky Toutle Trail 238 through the slide area; try not to lose your way as the route meanders up the drainage then left (NW) toward Saint Kitts & Nevis Creek just below Blue Lake without much elevation gain. Find a suitable log crossing before the lake as it can be a bit tricky to the more solid trail traversing a steeper hillside and ridge directly on the other side of the creek. See Blue Lake through the woods from its left side and continue 2 mi N without difficulty to a juncture with Blue Horse Trail 237 on the right . Stay N on Trail 238 as you continue to descend more than 5 mi to the next intersection at the beginning of the lollipop loop.

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Turn right (ESE) on Sheep Canyon Trail 240 to take the loop counterclockwise and save the spur path to Upper Sheep Canyon Falls for the end of the loop for better lighting later in the day or visit them now if curiosity killed the cat. For the falls you would turn left (NW) on Trail 240 down a few hundred feet as the (main) Toutle Trail crosses the creek to the N over a bridge. The old road (Trail 240) opens up nicely to a great overlook of the 101-ft, two-tiered, thin waterfall in a narrow amphitheater. Be careful near the lip of the ravine.

Back to the four-way intersection, hike steadily steeper on Sheep Canyon Trail 1/2 mi ESE to the end at the next juncture (Loowit Trail). You cross a cool creek over the bridge to begin up through several varieties of pine and fir. There are good shots of Mount St. Helens through openings in the woods that drastically improve ahead. Turn left on Loowit Trail 216 (encircles entire mountain for around 30 mi) 1 mi; the route dips down the first 5 mi crossing a small open gully near tree line then ascends to the high point of the day on Crescent Ridge. Begin to head down the ridge left (WNW) on the same trail as it narrows and is somewhat brushy but with the best views yet up the Toutle and Tallus Glaciers to Mount St. Helens, and N over toward the South Fork Toutle River. Easily and pleasantly descend about 12 mi from Loowit Trail to the next junction; you find yourself surrounded by multitudes of wildflowers including bear grass, lupine, and paintbrush late June through August.

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