Hike 63
The Gifford Pinchot National Forest
Indian Heaven Lake Loop Hike
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Map of the Indian Heaven Wilderness Lakes Hike

Length: 16.5 Miles round trip
Elevation Change: 1500' Cumulative Elevation gain
Season: Summer thru Fall
Difficulty:   Difficult due to the length
Permit:   NW Forest Pass Required

 Click for PDF Topo Map of this Hike 

This long but extraordinary hike begins off Forest Road #65 on the west side of the Indian Heaven Wilderness Area. This hike is a grand tour of the central lake system and offers fantastic visual rewards.

The trail climbs immediately as it works its way from a logged off area into a densely forested area. Because of the elevation of the Wilderness the trees do not get very large in stature. However, in season the mosquitos to, so come prepared. During mid-summer this entire hike is lined with wonderful displays of wildflowers.

In about a half mile you begin encountering some of the many lakes you will see along this hike. Thomas Lake is the first large lake on your right. The hike to this alone makes the trip worth it, but there is much much more.

After passing this lake you will begin to gain elevation again. From time to time you will see other lakes and meadows along the way. At one point you will be able to see Mt St Helens to the west. Soon you will come to Rock Lake. Here the trail turns south and makes its way through more meadows and past more lakes on its way to the junction with the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT #2000). You will loose a bit of elevation as you approach Blue Lake and the PCT.

While you are here, take the short side Trail #55 to Tombstone Lake about a quarter mile away. Then return to the PCT and head north.

The trail will now climb quite a bit as it makes its way around the west side of East Crater. It is about 2.4 miles from Blue Lake to the junction with Trail #48 at Junction Lake. At this intersection, chose Trail #179 and follow it around the south side of the lake.

Trail #179 will take you uphill on its way to Lemei Lake. In about a mile the trail breaks out on a ridge where you can see Lemei Lake below. The trail descends and passes along the east side of the lake. After passing Lemei Lake, the trail veers off to the northwest and climbs as it makes it way to the junction with Trail #33 from Cultus Lake.

When you reach this junction bear left and follow the trail downhill past Clear Lake. About a half mile further you will come to the junction with PCT #2000 which you left back at Junction Lake. Now bear left and rejoin the PCT and head south.

Soon you will pass Deer Lake, which is just a short walk off the trail. Then back to the PCT, and the next lake which is Bear Lake. This is an interestingly shaped lake, and well worth a little time to explore. Then back on the trail heading south to Junction Lake and on to Blue Lake where you first met the PCT.

Here you bear right and follow Trail #111 past Rock Lake and Thomas Lake as you return to the trail head where you began this adventure.

Bear Lake in the Indian Heaven Wilderness
Bear Lake
How to get there:

 Click for PDF Directions Map of this Hike 

From Portland, OR
From Portland, travel east on Interstate Hwy 84 to Exit 44 to Cascade Locks. Exit the freeway and cross over the Columbia River into Washington via the Bridge of the Gods. Then turn right, or east, and head east through Stevenson, Washington to the intersection of the Wind River Highway to Carson, Washington. Bear left onto the Wind River Highway which will take you through Carson, Washington.

from Vancouver, WA
From Vancouver, WA travel east on SR14 through Stevenson, Washington to the intersection of the Wind River Highway to Carson, Washington. Bear left onto the Wind River Highway which will take you through Carson, Washington.

from Carson, WA
Continue north on the Wind River Highway for about 5.8 miles to the junction of the Wind River Hwy and the Old State cutoff road east. In just a few hundred feet turn left, north, onto Forest Road 65. In another 4.7 miles you will pass Forest Road 68. Continue north on FR65 for another 6.1 miles and you will pass Forest Road 60. Continue north on FR65 another 8.3 miles and you see the parking area for the trailhead to this hike.

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