backpack: Indian Heaven – Deep Lake

One night backpacking trip in Indian Heaven Wilderness, with day hikes in the Lakes Basin and to Lemei Rock.

Total distance: 15.8 miles with 2,900 ft gain

Day 1

2.5 miles, 1,135 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.

Indian Heaven Wilderness - Deep Lake backpacking trip Indian Heaven Wilderness - Deep Lake backpacking trip

 

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.

Indian Heaven Wilderness - Deep Lake backpacking trip Indian Heaven Wilderness - Deep Lake backpacking trip

 

The first meadows provide a preview of the fall color we’ll see all weekend on this trip.

Indian Heaven Wilderness - Deep Lake backpacking trip Indian Heaven Wilderness - Deep Lake backpacking 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.

Indian Heaven Wilderness - Deep Lake backpacking trip Indian Heaven Wilderness - Deep Lake backpacking trip Indian Heaven Wilderness - Deep Lake backpacking trip Indian Heaven Wilderness - Deep Lake backpacking trip

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.

Indian Heaven Wilderness - Deep Lake backpacking trip Indian Heaven Wilderness - Deep Lake backpacking trip Indian Heaven Wilderness - Deep Lake backpacking trip

 

The Lemei Lake trail passed through meadow after meadow, filled with huckleberries and grasses.

Indian Heaven Wilderness - Deep Lake backpacking trip Indian Heaven Wilderness - Deep Lake backpacking trip Indian Heaven Wilderness - Deep Lake backpacking trip Indian Heaven Wilderness - Deep Lake backpacking trip Indian Heaven Wilderness - Deep Lake backpacking trip

 

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.

Indian Heaven Wilderness - Deep Lake backpacking trip

 

Looking down towards Bear Lake from the PCT.

Indian Heaven Wilderness - Deep Lake backpacking trip Indian Heaven Wilderness - Deep Lake backpacking trip

 

Clear Lake looks like a nice place to camp…

Indian Heaven Wilderness - Deep Lake backpacking trip Indian Heaven Wilderness - Deep Lake backpacking trip

 

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.

Indian Heaven Wilderness - Deep Lake backpacking trip Indian Heaven Wilderness - Deep Lake backpacking trip Indian Heaven Wilderness - Deep Lake backpacking trip

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.

Indian Heaven Wilderness - Deep Lake backpacking trip Indian Heaven Wilderness - Deep Lake backpacking trip

 

After a set of switchbacks in the forest, we crossed a ridge with a view of Sawtooth Mountain and Mount Rainier.

Indian Heaven Wilderness - Deep Lake backpacking trip

 

Lemei Rock is the highest peak in Indian Heaven Wilderness.

Indian Heaven Wilderness - Deep Lake backpacking trip

 

Lake Wapiki as seen from the cinder ridge next to Lemei Rock.

Indian Heaven Wilderness - Deep Lake backpacking trip

 

Hello, Mount Hood!

Indian Heaven Wilderness - Deep Lake backpacking trip

HIKE OUT

2.5 miles with 1,184 ft. loss

After our hike, we broke camp, packed up and hiked out. I’ll be back to see you again, Indian Heaven!!

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