- Rating: Difficult
- Activity: Hike
- Distance: At least 10 miles
You’d need a week to explore the more than 80 miles of interconnected trails that crisscross Indian Heaven Wilderness’s 20,960 acres of rolling country in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, and we figured it makes the 2 hour drive from Portland worth it.
Some paths wend through groves of lichen-draped hemlock and fir, as well as subalpine meadows dotted with heather (and pesky mosquitoes) in early summer. Others climb steep volcanic formations like East Crater, Lemei Rock (the highest point in the area at 5,927 feet), and Lake SahaleeTyee. But they all pass by water, like Blue Lake, backed by the cliffs of Gifford Peak; or swimmable Thomas Lake, near Falls Creek Horse Camp. In fact, the wilderness area boasts more than 150 lakes where hikers can set up camp, catch dinner, or simply bathe trail-weary toes in the clear, cold water—a kind of pedicure au naturel that will prepare you for the next day’s trek.
ROUTE: Plan your route with these essential maps: Mount Adams Wilderness, Indian Heaven Wildnerness, and Trapper Creek Wilderness Map. For other hike ideas in Indian Heaven Wilderness, check out the Junction Lake and Blue Lake trail listing on this map.
DIRECTIONS: Follow Washington’s Hwy 14 east and take a left at the Carson turnoff. Take a right on Forest Road 65, and after 25 miles, turn right onto FR 60. Take another right on FR 6040 and then a left on FR 6035. The East Crater trailhead is 3 miles up the road.