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Wood Lake

South Cascades > Mount Adams Area
46.0917, -121.7660 Map & Directions
Length
1.5 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain
250 feet
Highest Point
5110 feet
Calculated Difficulty About Calculated Difficulty
Easy
Serene Wood Lake. Photo by Susan Saul. Full-size image
  • Wildflowers/Meadows
  • Dogs allowed on leash
  • Old growth
  • Lakes
  • Fall foliage

Two approaches, one longer and easier and the other shorter and harder, access this spur trail off the PCT to a serene mountain lake. Continue reading

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Hiking Wood Lake

Follow the Wood Lake Trail down hill for about 0.7 mile and 250 feet descent to reach lovely, serene Wood Lake. The route passes an unnamed tarn below Bird Mountain and traverses huckleberry parklands before the final, steep descent to the shore of Wood Lake at 4,860 feet. A boot path continues along the south side of the lake to campsites.

There are two approaches to access the Wood Lake Trail. The approach you choose will alter the mileage and elevation gain listed for this trail. 

PCT Approach: (No Parking Pass required). Begin at the Sawtooth Trailhead at 4,200 feet along Highway 24. Hike south from Highway 24 on the PCT. At 1.3 miles, pass the Indian Heaven Wilderness boundary. Continue another 0.1 mile to the junction with Sawtooth Mountain Trail #107 North. This former route of the PCT climbs high over the west side of Sawtooth Mountain.

Continuing on the PCT, the hike contours around Sawtooth Mountain and meets the junction with Sawtooth Mountain Trail #107 South at 3 miles. Hike another 1.3 miles, climbing a couple of switchbacks up the north ridge of Bird Mountain, to the junction with Wood Lake Trail #185.

Cultus Creek Approach: (Northwest Forest Pass required). Starting at the north end of the Cultus Creek Campground at 4,000 feet, take Cultus Creek Trail #108. The late Mel Hansen, in his 1977 guidebook “Indian Heaven Backcountry,” described the Cultus Creek Trail as “not for everyone.” He reported that it has been called “The Cardiac Arrest Trail” because a segment of it climbs 1,249 feet in just over a mile. The trail ascends up Bird Mountain to a saddle at 5,237 feet in 1.4 miles and then descends 377 feet in 0.1 mile down to meet the PCT at a 4-way junction with the Wood Lake Trail #185.

Amenities: Vault toilets are available at Cultus Creek Campground. There are no restrooms at the Sawtooth Trailhead for the PCT approach.

WTA worked here in 2021!

Hike Description Written by
Susan Saul, WTA Correspondent

Wood Lake

Map & Directions

Trailhead
Co-ordinates: 46.0917, -121.7660 Open in Google Maps

Before You Go

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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 Trout Lake: Head west on SR 141. After 5.4 miles, the road becomes FR 24. At Peterson Prairie, 7.9 miles from Trout Lake, turn north on FR 24 for another 10 miles to Cultus Creek Campground and designated hiker parking.  Continue on FR 24 for an additional 4 miles to reach the Sawtooth Trailhead for the PCT. A large parking area is down a spur road to the right just beyond where the PCT crosses the road.

From State Route 14: Turn north from SR 14 onto the Wind River Highway at the exit for Carson. Drive through Carson and continue on the Wind River Highway for 14.3 miles, then turn right onto FR 30/Wind River Road, just past the Carson National Fish Hatchery. Continue on this paved two-lane road for about 18 miles to the end of pavement at the Lone Butte Sno-Park. Continue on gravel FR 30 before it becomes paved again. Turn right on FR 24 for 0.5 mile to the Sawtooth Trailhead for the PCT. A large parking area is down a spur road to the left just before the PCT crosses the road. The driving distance from Carson is 34.5 miles. Continue on FR 24 for an additional 4 miles to reach Cultus Creek Campground. Look for the designated hiker parking area.

From I-5: Take the Woodland exit/Exit 21. Follow State Route 503 east for 29 miles to Cougar. Continue east on SR 503, which becomes FR 90, for 18.5 miles, At the junction with FR 25, turn right onto FR 90/Lewis River Road. In about 4 miles, turn right on FR 51/Curly Creek Road. Climb 5 miles to the junction with FR 30/Wind River Road. Turn left and drive north to the end of pavement at the Lone Butte Sno-Park. Continue on gravel FR 30 until it becomes paved again. Turn right on FR 24 for 0.5 mile to the Sawtooth Trailhead for the PCT. A large parking area is down a spur road to the left just before the PCT crosses the road. Continue on FR 24 for an additional 4 miles to reach Cultus Creek Campground. Look for the designated hiker parking area.

More Hike Details

Trailhead

South Cascades > Mount Adams Area

Wood Lake (#185)

Gifford Pinchot National Forest, Mount Adams Ranger District

Guidebooks & Maps

Green Trails Indian Heaven, WA No. 365S /

US Forest Service Mount Adams-Indian Heaven-Trapper Creek Wilderness Map (2005)

Buy the Green Trails Indian Heaven No. 365S map

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Wood Lake

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