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Vancouver, WA: Indian Heaven Wilderness

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Star Star Star Star Star

Escape onto the PCT in vast Gifford Pinchot National Forest.

It may seem small by Western standards, but Washington's Indian Heaven Wilderness has a large list of attractions. Meadows abound in summer blooms, huckleberries start ripening in late August, and the October colors are among the best in the Northwest.

Start this 13.5-mile loop with an easy 2.2-mile climb via the Thomas Lake Trail to a junction at Rock Lake, passing other lakes along the way. Go north on an obvious but abandoned trail, and wind through meadows to a junction with the PCT at Bear Lake. From here, you can loop east, then south, past remote Clear and Lemei Lakes to a junction at the appropriately named Junction Lake, then take the PCT south to Blue Lake before returning on the Thomas Lake Trail. All the lakes have excellent campsites.

Maps: USDA Forest Service Indian Heaven Wilderness.

Info: Mt. Adams Ranger District: (509) 395-3400; www.fs.fed.us/gpnf

-Hike provided by Doug Lorain, author of Backpacking Washington (Wilderness Press)

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