The ragged summit of Sawtooth Mountain is the most conspicuous feature in the north end of the Indian Heaven Wilderness. The east face drops away precipitously in a 500-foot cliff, while from the west, the toothed 100 feet of the crest stands out above the surrounding forest. Sawtooth is one of the oldest Indian Heaven volcanoes.
From the Sawtooth trailhead at 4,252 feet, hike south on the Pacific Crest Trail for 1.2 miles to the Indian Heaven Wilderness boundary. You will be crossing the well-known Sawtooth berry fields that have attracted huckleberry pickers in August and early September for hundreds of years. If the berries are done, the shrubs provide brilliant red, orange and gold trailside backdrops as the leaves turn color in late September.
The trail begins to rise in open montane woodland and then enters deeper forest as you gain a bit more than 300 feet elevation.
In a scant 0.1 mile beyond the wilderness boundary, reach the north junction of Sawtooth Mountain Trail 107 at 4,568 feet. The Sawtooth Mountain Trail goes straight ahead while the PCT makes a sharp right turn. This is the old route of the Pacific Crest Trail before it was rerouted in the 1970s to skirt Sawtooth Mountain's west flank.
The trail climbs up well-graded switchbacks through old growth silver fir forest, passing a good viewpoint of Mount Adams. At a third switchback, look back for a view of Mount Rainier and the Goat Rocks. The trail then traverses the west slope of Sawtooth Mountain. Look up to see the rugged, toothed rocks on the summit. Reach the trail's high point just below the Sawtooth summit at 2.2 miles and 5,193 feet. Continue to an excellent view of Mount St. Helens and the Mount Margaret Backcounty on the northwest skyline.
Nearer at hand, you will have views of Lone Butte and the meadows at its feet that are an important elk calving area. The water you will see in the distance is Swift Reservoir. A map can help you identify the high peaks above Siouxon and Trapper Creeks to the south of Swift Reservoir.
The trail continues around Sawtooth Mountain to its south face, and then switchbacks down the steep, red pumiced open slope. Look straight ahead to Lemei Rock and Bird Mountain, with Mount Hood in Oregon visible between them.
Walk along an open ridge crest on the saddle between Sawtooth and Bird mountains, with views of Mount Adams, Sleeping Beauty, Flattop Mountain, and other landmarks. The trail begins traversing downward into the forest and rejoins the PCT at the Sawtooth Mountain south trail junction at 3 miles and 4,871 feet elevation.
To complete the loop, turn right on the PCT and head north in silver fir forest on fairly level tread. In 1.4 miles, you will complete the loop by meeting the Sawtooth Mountain Trail 107 north trailhead, and then it is 1.3 miles back to your start at the PCT Sawtooth trailhead.