Wilderness: Indian Heaven
The 20,784 acre Indian Heaven Wilderness is a forested high plateau, dominated by fir (Pacific silver, noble, subalpine), with numerous open meadows and more than 150 lakes. Many of the lakes are stocked with rainbow and brook trout.
Lava once flowed from the numerous volcanic cones that rise above the plateau which reach their highest point on Lemei Rock (5,927'), where a broad crater now contains Lake Wapiki. Originally known as "Sahalee Tyee," the area is culturally important to Native Americans. Periodically over the past 9,000 years the Yakima, Klickitat, Cascades, Wasco, Wishram, and Umatilla tribes gathered here for berry picking, fishing, and hunting.
Indian Heaven is known for wildflower color and swarms of biting insects in the summer. The snow melts away in the area around mid-July. Fall is a good time to visit due to the brilliant fall colors and the winding down of mosquito season. Deer and elk reside here until winter snows drive them lower, along with black bears attracted to the ripening of fall huckleberries.
The Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail #2000 crosses the entire Wilderness north-south for a distance of 16.4 miles, with several side trails to some of the larger lakes and to the Indian Racetrack, a 2,000-foot-long field where horse racing once provided a break from the tribal food-gathering routine. Seven other trails enter from the east and west to join the Pacific Crest Trail.
A designated campsite system has been implemented in the vicinity of Thomas and Blue Lakes.
- Key access points: Trail and trailhead information
At a Glance
|Current Conditions:||7/24/2022: The Wilderness is mostly melted out. Mosquitos present and in large quanity. Mosquito repellent recommended. For current information, contact Mt. Adams Ranger District 509-395-3402.|
|Permit Info:||Wilderness permits are required for entry into all Gifford Pinchot National Forest Wildernesses. The self-issuing permits are free and are available at all trailheads leading into these Wildernesses, and at Forest Service Ranger Stations.|
|Closest Towns:||Trout Lake, WA|
|Water:||Treat all non potable water before consuming.|
|Passes:||Some trailheads require a valid recreation pass. Check our Recreation Passes and Permits page for details.|
|Operated By:||Forest Service|
|Information Center:||Mt. Adams Ranger District|
From Trout Lake, Follow State Highway 141 N. on to national forest land, where it becomes Forest Road 24. Stay on Forest Road 24 and travel past Little Goose Campground to Cultus Creek Campground and Trailhead, about 16 miles from Trout Lake.
Trailheads/Trails that access Indian Heaven Wilderness:
- Crest Campground/Trailhead - access to the Pacific Crest Trail #2000 south of Indian Heaven Wilderness.
- Trailhead: Cultus Creek - access to the Trail #108 Cultus Creek.
- Cultus Creek Campground - access to Trail #108 Cultus Creek and Trail #33 Indian Heaven.
- Trailhead: East Crater - access to Trail #48 East Crater.
- Trailhead: Filloon- access to Trail #102 Filloon.
- Trailhead: Indian Racetrack and Trailhead: Indian Racetrack South - access to Trail #171 Indian Racetrack.
- Trailhead: Lemei - access to Trail #34 Lemei
- Trailhead: Sawtooth- access to Trail #2000 Pacific Crest National Scenic north of Indian Heaven Wilderness and Trail #107 Sawtooth.
- Trailhead: Thomas Lake - access to Trail #111 Thomas Lake.
Gifford Peak, Little Huckleberry Mountain, Lone Butte, Sleeping Beauty. Download free U.S. Forest Service Topo maps.
Find maps online
Go to the maps page to download or order maps. You can also purchase the maps in person at Gifford Pinchot National Forest offices.
Go to Wilderness.net for online maps and other important Wilderness information.
Other Trails within Indian Heaven Wilderness:
- Trail #29A Chenamus Lake - Trail can be accessed from Trail #29 Placid Lake or Trail #2000 Pacific Crest National Scenic.
- Trail #33A Deep Lake-
- Trail #176 Elk Lake - East of Lemei Rock this trail leads .4 miles to Elk Lake from Trail #2000 Pacific Crest.
- Trail #179 Lemei Lake - Accessed from Trail #33 Indian Heaven and Trail #2000 Pacific Crest. Combine for a loop.
- Trail #29 Placid Lake- Trail can be accessed from Forest Road 30-420 or Trail #2000 Pacific Crest.
- Trail #171A Shortcut - This .5 mile trail connects Trail #171 Indian Racetrack to Trail #2000 Pacific Crest.
- Trail #55 Tombstone Lake - This .5 mile trail near Blue Lake leads to Tombstone Lake from Trail #2000 Pacific Crest at it's junction with Trail #111 Thomas Lake.
- Trail #34A Wapiki Lake - This .5 mile trail leaves the Trail #34 Lemei about 3 miles from Forest Road 24 to Lake Wapiki adjacent to Lemei Rock.
- Trail #185 Wood Lake - This .5 mile trail decends to Wood Lake from the Trail #2000 Pacific Crest at it's junction with Trail #108 Cultus Creek.
Indian Heaven Loop
Indian Heaven Loop is a ten mile hike within Indian Heaven Wilderness that begins and ends at Cultus Creek Campground. Note: Both Indian Heaven Trail #33 and Cultus Creek Lake Trail #108 begin from the campground.
From the campground take Indian Heaven Trail #33 and climb 1000' to reach Deep Lake Trail #33A which is a side route to Deep Lake. Continue on Indian Heaven Trail #33 past Cultus Lake to the junction with Lemei Trail #34. Continue on #33 to the Lemei Lake Trail #179. It is 2.7 miles to this point.
Leave Indian Heaven Trail #33 and follow Lemei Lake Trail #179, through a large meadow and past Lemei Lake and up to the junction with the Pacific Crest Trail #2000 at Junction Lake. (East Crater Trail #48 also joins the Pacific Crest Trail at Junction Lake). It is 4.5 miles to this point.
From the intersection at the Junction Lake, hike north on the Pacific Crest Trail #2000. In 1.7 miles you will reach Bear Lake and the spur trail to Elk Lake. Continue north on #2000 and pass the junction with Indian Heaven Trail #33 (this is where you would have arrived if you hadn't taken the Lemei Trail #179).
Hike north for about 2 miles beyond the #33 junction to reach the upper end of Cultus Creek Trail #108. (You'll have passed Placid Lake Trail #29 before this junction). At this junction there is also a side trail which drops to 13-acre Wood Lake to the west. To complete the loop take Cultus Creek Trail #108 east for 1.5 miles to return to Cultus Creek Campground.
Indian Heaven Wilderness designated campsite map: