The perfect backpacking primer trip! Indian Heaven Wilderness is a beautiful, place, and it’s relatively remoteness from urban centers means it’s not that crowded.
From the trailhead hike 1.5 miles at a moderately steep grade along Bird Mountain. In this section, you’ll enjoy open forest then more open views before turning south and heading back into forest. Two miles in, pass Cultus Lake, and a quarter mile past that, arrive at a junction.
Turn onto the Lemei Lake Trail (to the left). Pass shallow, sometimes muddy (and buggy) Lemei Lake, and arrive at Junction Lake 5 miles from the trailhead. Here, two trails merge into the PCT, and you’ll hop on the iconic trail for 1.5 miles on your way to Blue Lake, your destination.
All along the way, alpine meadows and the many lakes keep the scenery interesting, not to mention the impressive peek-a-boo vistas of Mount Adams. If you visit in early summer, the meadows will be alive with incredible wildflowers, and more often than not, given the higher elevation in Trout Lake and the surrounding area, they will stick around a bit longer.
You do need to be aware of mosquitos! They are rampant given all the incredible lakes and water in the area. The best plan would be to wait until the temperatures drop a little to avoid the hassle and having to tote bug spray, which is why we went in late September, early October.
If you time it right, you may have the treat of running into a PCT thru-hiker, bring some extra snacks for them just in case; they always appreciate a treat, and you may even coax a story or two out of them.
WTA Pro Tip: Stop at KJ’s Bear Creek Café to enjoy a huckleberry shake after your outing.