Distance: 8.2 miles
Elevation gain: 2,100 ft.
Location: Southern Washington Cascades, between Mount St Helens and Mount Adams
The most beautiful fall color can be seen on this trail in early October. The high meadows of Indian Heaven Wilderness are filled with huckleberries that turn brilliant shades of red and orange.
We started at the Cultus Creek campground trailhead and ended at the Lake Wapiki overlook just past Lemei Rock. The trail starts in heavy forest, and halfway up, there’s a great opening with wide views to Mount Adams, Mount Rainier and Goat Rocks. There’s still quite a bit of smoke in the air due to wildfires in the region, so the views were a little obscured, but the mountains were still visible.
After a grueling 1-1/2 miles with 1,200 ft. elevation gain, we were in the meadow and lake filled area. We stopped at Cultus Lake for a bit, then tried to decide whether or not to go on the trail towards Lemei Rock, or take a different route to a lake filled region. We started on the different route path, but after half a mile of hiking through forested area, we decided to turn back since didn’t want to miss the huckleberry meadows. This added a mile and more elevation gain to our overall hike, but it was well worth it. Back on the Lemei Trail, we crossed through meadow after color-filled meadow and to the side of Lemei Rock, the highest point in the Indian Heaven Wilderness. It is possible to scramble up the rocks for great views, but we kept on the trail so we could reach the Lake Wapiki overlook and hike out before it got dark.