backpack: Indian Heaven – Deep Lake
One night backpacking trip in Indian Heaven Wilderness, with day hikes in the Lakes Basin and to Lemei Rock
- distance & elevation gain to Deep Lake: 2.7 miles, 1,200 ft. gain
- day hike options: Lakes Basin loop; Lemei Rock
- best months: September – October
- location: SW Washington; nearest town: Trout Lake
- land management: Gifford Pinchot National Forest: Indian Heaven Wilderness
- trail conditions: Indian Heaven Trail #33
- hike description: Washington Trails Association – Indian Heaven Trail | Oregon Hikers – Indian Heaven Trail
- permits: self-issued at the trailhead
- trailhead pass: NW Forest Pass
Total distance: 15.8 miles with 2,900 ft gain
2.7 miles, 1,200 ft. elevation gain
We began our hike in on the Indian Heaven Trail #33. The trailhead is located in the Cultus Creek campground’s day use area. The first mile is all forested and quite steep.
At one mile in, a big opening on a rocky ridge has views towards Mount Adams, Goat Rocks and Mount Rainier. The next mile is forested again, and less steep, but still climbing.
The first meadows provide a preview of the fall color we’ll see all weekend on this trip.
At about 2.3 miles in, a side trail goes to Deep Lake. We found a nice campsite above the lake. When we arrived, there was only one other group camping in the area. The sky was clear and blue, and we could see Mount Adams peeking over the trees above the lake. From our campsite, we could see Mount Rainier through the trees.
DAY HIKE: LAKES BASIN
6.2 miles with 912 ft. elevation gain
After we set up camp, we went on a day hike around the lakes basin. Back on trail #33, we took the Lemei Lake trail south to Junction Lake, then took the PCT back north to the Indian Heaven trail #33 and our campsite.
The Lemei Lake trail passed through meadow after meadow, filled with huckleberries and grasses.
At Junction Lake, we turned right to take the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) north. The PCT portion of the hike is all through forest, with lakes seen below the trail through the trees.
Looking down towards Bear Lake from the PCT.
Clear Lake looks like a nice place to camp…
When we returned back to camp, we discovered that at least three more groups of people were camping, including two families with kids and dogs. For a short time, it sounded more like we were at a campground than backpacking, but everyone was having a good time and quieted down as it got dark. At sunset, I walked around the meadows behind our campsite to take photos, and then watched sunset’s pink streaks in the sky over the lake before going to bed.
Day 2 – day hike to Lemei Rock
4.3 miles with 768 ft. gain
After breakfast, we did a day hike to Lemei Rock and the viewpoint above Lake Wapiki.
After a set of switchbacks in the forest, we crossed a ridge with a view of Sawtooth Mountain and Mount Rainier.
Lemei Rock is the highest peak in Indian Heaven Wilderness.
Lake Wapiki as seen from the cinder ridge next to Lemei Rock.
Hello, Mount Hood!
2.7 miles with 1,200 ft. loss
After our hike, we broke camp, packed up and hiked out. I’ll be back to see you again, Indian Heaven!!