Vancouver, WA: Bird Mountain Loop

This 10-mile loop in the heart of Washington's Indian Heaven Wilderness is overflowing with wildflower meadows, summer huckleberries, and sparkling lakes. Do it as a dayhike, or backpack it with several side trip options.
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This 10-mile loop in the heart of Washington's Indian Heaven Wilderness is overflowing with wildflower meadows, summer huckleberries, and sparkling lakes. Do it as a dayhike, or backpack it with several side trip options.

The Indian Heaven Wilderness is a wonderland of lakes, meadows and volcanic features nestled between Mount St. Helens and Mt. Adams, west of Trout Lake. Early summer brings hoards of mosquitoes, so is discouraged, but later summer brings a bounty of wildflowers and huckleberries, ripe for the viewing and snacking; or hike it even later for an explosion of autumn color. From this 10-mile loop, a variety of side trails to numerous other lakes are available, making for an ideal dayhike or multi-day backpack.

Start the Bird Mountain loop at the trailhead parking area in the Cultus Creek Campground, heading southwest on Trail #33. The trail immediately starts a healthy 1,200' climb in the first 1.5 miles; beyond this, the trail undulates gently from one lake basin to another, making for pleasantly easy hiking. At the Deep Lake junction, take the short side trail to the lakeshore, spying Mt. Adams peeking above the treeline and deep, blue water. Several campsites are available around the lake.

Back on the main trail, pass Cultus Lake, then a junction with the Lemei Trail #34. This is a side-trip option to Lemei Rock and Lake Wapiki. Bear southwest, still on Trail #33 to another junction. For a shorter 7-mile loop, turn right on Trail #33 to pass Clear Lake and meet up with the PCT; otherwise, head south on Trail #179. The trail now passes through numerous meadows, brimming with flowers and huckleberries, passes Lemei Lake, then makes a gentle descent to Junction Lake and connection to the PCT. Several campsites and more huckleberries can be found around the lake. To continue the loop, turn northward on the PCT.

Now on forested PCT, start a gentle upward route past several more lakes and several more side trails, offering enticing routes to explore even more lakes and meadows. Continue on the PCT for 3.5 miles, crossing several creeks, and a particularly jagged rockfall slope of large lava boulders, to a 4-way junction. Here, divert eastward on Trail #108, climbing a short rise to a viewpoint offering a panorama of Mt. Rainier, Mt. Adams and the Goat Rocks. Then its 1.5 miles downhill, back to your starting point.

Mapped by Eli Boschetto Bosco Mountain Photo

Trail Facts

  • Distance: 16.5

Waypoints

BRD001

Location: 46.046636, -121.756459

Start the Bird Mountain Loop at the Cultus Creek Campground trailhead parking area; use Trail #33 SW.

BRD002

Location: 46.040941, -121.767365

Open switchback with wide panorama of Mt. Adams, Goat Rocks and Mt. Rainier.

BRD003

Location: 46.030711, -121.774156

Trail spur through open meadow with a few campsites near trees.

BRD004

Location: 46.030443, -121.774054

Trail junction; turn left (E) for side Trail #33A to Deep Lake.

BRD005

Location: 46.031381, -121.771399

Deep Lake; find a light trail that circles lake and a few campsites near the lakeshore.

BRD006

Location: 46.030189, -121.774132

Cultus Lake

BRD007

Location: 46.028003, -121.774052

Trail junction; turn right (W), continuing on Trail #33. Side trip option to take Trail #34 east 2.8 miles past Lemei Rock to Lake Wapiki.

BRD008

Location: 46.025221, -121.779032

Trail junction; for shorter loop, continue right (W) on Trail #33 to PCT junction; for longer loop, turn left (E) on Trail #179.

BRD009

Location: 46.02339, -121.776473

Proceed through a large meadow, sprinkled with late summer huckleberries.

BRD010

Location: 46.017654, -121.775364

Lemei Lake.

BRD011

Location: 46.009724, -121.780268

Creek crossing.

BRD012

Location: 46.005346, -121.786992

Junction Lake; small campsites available around lakeshore; gather summer huckleberries.

BRD013

Location: 46.005603, -121.787685

Very nice campsite north of trail.

BRD014

Location: 46.005429, -121.788584

PCT junction; turn right (N).

BRD015

Location: 46.009805, -121.787917

Creek crossing.

BRD016

Location: 46.014586, -121.787594

Creek crossing.

BRD017

Location: 46.015672, -121.788527

View of Acker Lake below.

BRD018

Location: 46.01808, -121.787513

Trail junction; continue straight (N) on PCT. Side trip option to take Trail #176 west 0.5 mile to Bear and Elk Lakes.

BRD019

Location: 46.023072, -121.786108

Trail junction; continue straight (N) on PCT. Short descent to Deer Lake and campsites on south lakeshore.

BRD020

Location: 46.025353, -121.786228

Trail junction; end of Trail #33 and aforementioned short loop. Continue straight (N) on PCT.

BRD021

Location: 46.035766, -121.786457

Pass a rockfall slope; look and listen for pika

BRD022

Location: 46.037955, -121.786155

Trail fork; continue right (NE) on PCT. Side trip option to fork left 3.3 miles to Placid and Chenamus Lakes.

BRD023

Location: 46.04389, -121.780347

Unnamed lake below.

BRD024

Location: 46.043863, -121.778875

Pass through large lava boulder slope.

BRD025

Location: 46.046733, -121.777751

Trail junction; turn right (NE) on Trail #108.

BRD026

Location: 46.047859, -121.775712

Short spur trail to rock outcrop and viewpoint of Mts. Adams and Rainier.

BRD027

Location: 46.048256, -121.756317

At a small stock fence, turn right (S) on a light side trail to return to Cultus Creek Campground.

BRD028

Location: 46.047913, -121.756423

Turn right (S) on campground road to return to trailhead parking area.

Indian Heaven

Location: 46.046697, -121.757011

Enter the Indian Heaven Wilderness to hike the loop trail around Bird Mountain.

Rainier View

Location: 46.040948, -121.76729

At the top of an open switchback, view a wide panorama of Bird Mountain, Mt. Rainier, Mt. Adams and the Goat Rocks.

Deep Lake

Location: 46.031147, -121.771023

The deep blue water of Deep Lake, backed by Mt. Adams.

Indian Meadow

Location: 46.02264, -121.776388

One of many wide meadows on the east side of Bird Mountain. Summer brings an abundance of wildflowers and huckleberries; autumn brings an explosion of color.

Junction Lake

Location: 46.005115, -121.78879

Autumn brings bright red huckleberry bushes to the shores of Junction Lake.

Cascades

Location: 46.014742, -121.787739

A handful of small creeks cross the trail along the PCT, on the west side of Bird Mountain.

Bear Lake

Location: 46.018319, -121.788125

The still, reflective water of Bear Lake.

Big Rocks

Location: 46.044285, -121.778319

The PCT cuts across a slope of jagged lava boulders.