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Blue Lake via Cultus Creek

South Cascades

Location

South Cascades -- Mount Adams Area
View map below

Length

13.0 miles, roundtrip

Elevation

Gain: 700 ft.
Highest Point: 5200 ft.

Rating

2.17 out of 5

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WTA worked here: 2018
 

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

Northwest Forest Pass
 
 

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. 

 

Blue Lake via Cultus Creek

Map & Directions

Trailhead
Co-ordinates: 46.0471, -121.7562 Open map in new window

Trailhead

South Cascades -- Mount Adams Area

Gifford Pinchot National Forest, Mount Adams Ranger District

See weather forecast

Guidebooks & Maps

Day Hiking: South Cascades (Nelson - Mountaineers Books)

Green Trails No. 365 Mount Lone Butte

Green Trails No. 397 Wind River

Green Trails No. 365S Indian Heaven

Getting There

From White Salmon, head north on Highway 141 (West Jewett Boulevard in town) for 23.5 miles, passing through Husum and BZ Corner on your way to Trout Lake. Continue though Trout Lake on Highway 141 to a fork where the highway bends south. Take the right fork, pass a road branching off to your right, and then turn right onto Trout Lake Creek Road.

Proceed for 1.3 miles, and then turn onto a nondescript road, continuing for 2.2 miles before turning left onto Forest Road 091 and driving for 1.5 miles. FR 091 turns into FR 8821 at a fork, take the left branch and continue for 1.7 miles to a junction with FR 24 (Twin Buttes Road). Turn onto Twin Buttes Road and continue for about 14 miles past Little Goose Campground to Cultus Creek Campground and trailhead.

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

Northwest Forest Pass
 

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Blue Lake via Cultus Creek

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