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Indian Heaven Wilderness

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General Information

Description - Indian Heaven Wilderness is 20,600 acres of broad, rolling country, straddling the crest of the Cascade Range with subalpine meadows and 175 small lakes. Originally known to the Indians as "Sahalee Tyee," the area has been and is culturally important to Native Americans. "Indian Heaven" offers visitors wildlife and panoramic views, as well as wildflowers and huckleberries, in season. Snow melts away in the area about mid-July. Fall is a good time to visit, with brilliant colors flourishing, and the mosquito season nearly over.

Attractions - The natural scenic beauty of Indian Heaven is enhanced by several interesting volcanic formations such as East Crater and Lake Sahalee-Tyee. Lemei Rock is the highest point in the area, at 5,927 feet, and provides majestic views of the Cascades and Wapiki Lake. In addition there are nearly 42 miles of trails providing a variety of backcountry travel experiences.

Recreation - Activities include hiking, horseback riding, camping, and backpacking.

Snow melts away in the area about mid-July. Fall is a good time to visit, with brilliant colors flourishing, and the mosquito season nearly over.

Climate - Climate on the Gifford Pinchot changes drastically with elevation. The area receives a high amount of precipitation. Much of the precipitation comes from October to April in the form of rain at the low elevations and as wet heavy snow in the higher elevations. Deep winter snowpacks accumulate in the high elevations.

Although snow is possible in the lowest elevations, it is infrequent. Late spring, summer and early autumn tend to bring clear, sunny days with moderate temperatures.

Location - The Indian Heaven Wilderness is located in the south central portion of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, just north of the Big Lava Bed. It can be accessed by Forest Routes 24, 6048, and 420.

Current Conditions & Trip Reports

Trip Reports:
Add your own trip Report! Newly re-released feature. One of the most popular features on Wildernet, trip reports allow you to share your experiences with others. This is an invaluable resource for determining what to expect on your outdoor adventure, so please participate! To prevent spamming, you must be a registered user of Wildernet in order to submit a trip report

Number of People Encountered: 0-10 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: Directions: Carson to Falls Creek Horse Camp Head north out of Carson cross the Wind River, go over gorge. Take 3rd RIGHT on to "Old State Hwy". Go LEFT immediately on to Panther Cr Rd Falls Creek Horse Camp is on Panther Cr Rd, approx. 5 miles past "4 Corners" (where Panther Cr Rd intersects with Road 60). See signs.

Filed By: Day Hikers (Portland, OR)
Number of People Encountered: 0-10 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: On August 7, 2004, we set out to climb Bird Peak and Sawtooth Moutain from the north end of the Indian Heaven Wilderness, but the ease of the PCT trail took us past both moutains very quickly as we waited for the morning clouds to burn off. We then decided to try for three peaks in a day by hiking on toward Lemei Rock, which we climbed via the W/NW ridge just as the clouds were dissipating. From the summit of Lemei Rock we could see our intended off-trail route over Bird Peak. We descended a steep gully on the N/NE side of the peak and intersected the trail back to Cultus Lake. At Cultus Lake we headed up to a grassy pass just S of the rockiest of the several summits that make up Bird Peak. We then traversed the length of Bird Peak, crossing 4 different summits on our way to the trail between the PCT and the Cultus Lake CG that crosses the ridge of Bird Peak to the N. Back on the trail, and headed N, we took the Sawtooth Mt trail, and then climbed the rocky summit of Sawtooth Mt. as a short, but somewhat exposed detour. After a lunch with a great view, we descended back to the PCT and headed N to the car, but were distracted by the huge numbers of huckleberries that were along the trail. The off-trail portions of this hike over Bird Peak were pretty good by NW standards, meaning not too much in the way of crashing through brush, although the East side of the ridge of the peak was definitely the most open for hiking. There was only little evidence of others hiking this peak, and we did not see anyone while we were off-trail. The views of the mountains all around were beautiful, and it was amazing to see Mt. Jefferson so far away in the distance to the South. I would recommend this hike for strong hikers who are comfortable with off-trail navigation.

More Information

Contact Information:
Gifford Pinchot National Forest, 10600 NE 51st Circle, P.O. Box 8944 , Vancouver, WA, 98682, Phone: 360-891-5000, Fax: 360-891-5045, TTY: 360-891-5003

Additional Information:
Gifford Pinchot National Forest - The Gifford Pinchot National Forest is located in southwest Washington State. It lies between Mount Rainier National Park and the Columbia River Gorge, and includes the Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument.
Mt. Adams Ranger District - The Mount Adams Ranger District covers the southern portion of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest and offers hiking, biking, backpacking, camping, horseback riding, fishing, and cross-country skiing, snow shoeing and snowmobiling in the winter.


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