Loowit Trail

Looking south from Spirit Lake near the Loowit Trail, a young conifer and other small plants dapple the landscape that Mount St. Helens ripped clean of life more that 36 years ago.

Roger Werth, The Daily News file

Forest Road 99 is expected to reopen Aug. 21, restoring access to many popular viewpoints and trails on the east side of Spirit Lake and Mount St. Helens.

The narrow, winding U.S. Forest Service road has been closed all summer because of winter storm damage.

Forest Road 99 is the only vehicular route to the Windy Ridge viewpoint and Harmony Falls, Independence Pass and Norway Pass trailheads. It also is the only route to Meta Lake, Ryan Lake and the Miners’ car destroyed by the volcano’s eruption on May 18, 1980.

A Gifford Pinchot spokesperson in June said large potholes and piles of debris were found that month after snow had melted away, and contractors were hired to fix the damage.

The Aug. 21 reopening date still is somewhat tentative, Forest Service officials said.

Forest Road 25, the major north-south route through the Gifford Pinchot, is still open and State Route 504 is open on the west side of the volcano is all the way to Johnston Ridge.

The Daily News, Longview, Wash.

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