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Bluff Lake

South Cascades


South Cascades
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3.0 miles, roundtrip


Gain: 1000 ft.
Highest Point: 3840 ft.


2.50 out of 5

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WTA worked here: 2021

Parking Pass/Entry Fee


This forested trail to a small, secluded lake uniquely set on a ridge with a few campsites provides an easy day hike or backpack trip.

Unfortunately, Purcell Creek washed out the access road 1.3 miles before the trailhead, making it a bit more difficult for children.

At the washout, found at 2400 feet of elevation, a trail with a makeshift bridge has been constructed get across Purcell Creek. A 1.3 mile walk up a mostly shaded road, which seems to be transitioning to trail, leads to the trailhead. At the trailhead, found at 2840 feet, there is room for a few cars (which will be useful if and when the road is repaired. There's also a trailhead sign, and a wilderness register, but no facilities.

From the trailhead, the trail immediately enters the forest and the Goat Rocks Wilderness Area. The well maintained trail has red huckleberry bushes along the initial half mile. The shady walk is mostly within sound of Purcell Creek, but stays a well above it and its main tributary from the Bluff Lake area.

At 0.7 miles, the trail crosses the base of a large rock feature with a layer of moss and it crosses another at 0.8 miles. The trail crosses a stream a mile from the trailhead and continues the gradual climb to the lake.

As the trail nears the lake it enters an area known as Huntington Berry Patch. True to its name this area has many blueberry and salmonberry bushes, which have ripe berries in mid to late July.

The trail passes by the lake at 1.5 miles and 3840 feet of elevation, but not really in sight of it. A short side trail provides access to a campsite on the southwestern end of the lake. A boot trail around the lake provides access to campsites on a rock above the southeast side and at the eastern end of the lake. The boot trail encircles the lake but skirts the brushy area on the north side and also provides a few access points for trout fishing.

There are no views at the secluded lake. To see Mount Rainier, one must continue on the Bluff Lake trail, now less maintained, for another 0.8 mile and climb 600 feet above the lake to a viewpoint at 2.3 miles 4470ft from the trailhead.

Beyond this viewpoint, the trail continues on, crossing the ridge of Coal Creek Mountain and continues near the crest as it heads southeast to a junction at 6.6 miles from the trailhead. Two trails leave the junction, one to Lost Lake and the other to Lost Hat Lake.


Bluff Lake

Map & Directions

Co-ordinates: 46.6532, -121.5705 Open map in new window


South Cascades

Bluff Lake (#65)

Gifford Pinchot National Forest, Cowlitz Valley Ranger District

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Guidebooks & Maps

Green Trails Packwood No 302

USGS 7.5 Min Topographic Ohanepcosh Hot Springs

Getting There

From the junction of State Route 123 and US 12, head west on US 12 for 2.7 miles and turn left onto USFS 46. This point can also be reached by travelling 4.5 miles east from Packwood on US 12 and turning right onto USFS 46.

Follow USFS 46 for 1.6 miles and turn right onto USFS 4610. Follow USFS 4610 for 1.5 miles and turn left onto USFS 4612 and follow it for 1.3 miles to the road closed sign and washout. At the washout, the road is wide enough to turn around and provides parking for a few cars.

Parking Pass/Entry Fee


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Bluff Lake

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