Vancouver, WA: Indian Heaven Wilderness
Escape onto the PCT in vast Gifford Pinchot National Forest.
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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)
- Distance: 21.7
Location: 46.0062625, -121.8377781
Thomas Lake Trailhead
Location: 45.9986908, -121.8061066
Location: 46.0180355, -121.787889
Location: 46.0182143, -121.7742848
Location: 46.0055769, -121.7882752
Location: 45.9846772, -121.7952704