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Sawtooth

South Cascades > Mount Adams Area
46.0918, -121.7661 Map & Directions
Length
5.7 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain
960 feet
Highest Point
5193 feet
Calculated Difficulty About Calculated Difficulty
Moderate
Mount Adams viewed from the south slope of Sawtooth Mountain. Photo by Susan Saul Full-size image
  • Wildflowers/Meadows
  • Mountain views
  • Old growth
  • Dogs allowed on leash
  • Fall foliage

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

None

View the South Cascades peaks in all directions from this loop hike across a craggy summit of Indian Heaven's spine. Continue reading

Rating
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Hiking Sawtooth

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.

Toilet Information

  • No toilet at trailhead

More information about toilets

Hike Description Written by
Susan Saul, WTA Correspondent

Sawtooth

Map & Directions

Trailhead
Co-ordinates: 46.0918, -121.7661 Open in Google Maps

Before You Go

See weather forecast

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

None

WTA Pro Tip: Save a copy of our directions before you leave! App-based driving directions aren't always accurate and data connections may be unreliable as you drive to the trailhead.

Getting There

From Vancouver, drive east on SR 14 for 47 miles through Stevenson to the junction for Carson at a roundabout. Follow the signs for Carson and the Wind River Recreation Area.

Proceed for 14.4 miles to a sharp right turn on the Wind River Highway.  (Going straight takes you to Government Mineral Springs).

Follow the Wind River Highway, climbing up over Old Man Pass, all the way up to its junction with FR 24. This is another 24.0 miles, during which the road becomes FR 30 and there’s a 5.2-mile gravel segment.

Go right at the junction with FR 24 for the Sawtooth Berry Fields. Follow this gravel road 0.6 miles to the point where the PCT crosses the road. Just before the PCT crossing, turn left on a short dirt spur road into a large parking area with a picnic table in the middle.

Huckleberry picking on this side of the road is reserved for tribal members by the 1932 Handshake Agreement. It guaranteed Native access to the Sawtooth Berry Fields, some of the most productive huckleberry fields in the world.

Walk across FR 24 to start your hike at the trailhead on the opposite side.

More Hike Details

Trailhead

South Cascades > Mount Adams Area

Sawtooth Moountain (#107)

Gifford Pinchot National Forest, Mount Adams Ranger District

Guidebooks & Maps

A Guide to Washington's South Cascades' Volcanic Landscapes by Marge and Ted Mueller, The Mountaineers

Green Trails Indian Heaven, WA No 365S

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Sawtooth

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