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Indian Heaven at Wood Lake

Backcountry Response Team

Wed Sep 1, 2021 8:30 AM — Sun Sep 5, 2021 3:30 PM

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South Cascades — Mount Adams Area

Features: Earn Northwest Forest Pass

Crew Leader: Gabe Smith

View of Mount Adams from the trail to Wood Lake. Photo by John.


Savor the splendor of late summer with a lakeside camp and a chunky treadwork project in one of the most lovely wildernesses in Washington. It's a trail worker's little slice of heaven for four days.

About the Area

The Indian Heavan wilderness is 20,600 acres of broad, rolling country, straddling the crest of the Cascade Range with subalpine meadows and 175 small lakes.

Known to the Native people as "Sahalee Tyee," the area is culturally important to Native Americans. "Indian Heaven" offers visitors wildlife and panoramic views, as well as wildflowers and huckleberries, in season.

What to Expect

We'll have fun, work hard and make a difference!

Project Description

The trail to Wood Lake is deeply rutted, and your crew is coming to the rescue!

Spend a problem-solving four days collapsing ruts, figuring out how to drain the trail-become-creek, and delighting in the Indian Heaven Wilderness. This project will let you flex your problem-solving muscles, along with your, you know, actual muscles.

Camping and Hiking Information

  • Type: Backcountry basecamp 
  • Location: Wood Lake
  • Weather: Be prepared for variable conditions including heat, cold, wind and rain
  • Initial hike to camp: Approx. 2.0 miles with about 1,300 feet of elevation gain at a moderate pace while carrying your backpack fully loaded with all provisions including camping gear and food, plus WTA-provided tools
  • Expected daily hike to project: 1.0 miles roundtrip on fairly flat terrain.


  • Day 1: Meet the crew rain or shine, then hike in, begin work on the project and set up camp
  • Day 2+: Make breakfast and pack a lunch before heading out on trail with the crew by 8:00 AM. Work at your own pace, take plenty of breaks and enjoy lunch on the trail. Arrive back in camp by 4:00 or 5:00 PM for a relaxing evening. Prepare your own dinner and swap stories with the crew. 
  • Final Day: Break down camp, finish trail project, hike out and say goodbye to the crew at the trailhead

For safety reasons, arriving late or leaving early is not allowed.

Planning Information

Get ready for a challenging backcountry adventure!

What it Takes to Do This Work Party

  • A great attitude for working with a team! WTA provides the training and tools you need for the project
  • Backpacking gear and food for multiple nights on the trail
  • Good physical condition to hike with a fully-loaded backpack and be physically active for about 8-9 hours daily on uneven terrain 
  • Backpacking experience including ability to run your own camp following Leave No Trace principles
  • Day work party experience recommended
  • Flexibility to adapt to changes due to unpredictable weather or land manager requests
  • Minimum age: 18

What to Bring

  • Boots
  • Long pants 
  • Work gloves
  • Long-sleeved shirt recommended
  • Eye protection recommended (glasses, sunglasses or safety glasses)

Backpacking gear

  • Backpack to carry all of your gear
  • Tent, sleeping bag and sleeping pad
  • Cooking gear and enough food (plus a little extra) for the entire trip
  • At least two 1-liter water bottles and a way to purify your water
  • Rain jacket and rain pants
  • Extra warm clothing
  • Camp clothing such as shorts, shirt and sandals
  • Sun and bug protection
  • Headlamp and extra batteries
  • Personal items such as medication, hand sanitizer and toiletries
  • ​First aid kit
  • A sense of fun and adventure for learning new skills and meeting great people!

Trail work gear

  • Boots
  • Long pants 
  • Work gloves
  • Long-sleeved shirt recommended
  • Eye protection recommended such as safety glasses
  • WTA hard hat (provided, unless you have one)

For safety reasons, shorts and sneakers are not allowed while working. Firearms and weapons are not allowed.

More Information

From the Hiking Guide

See what WTA's hiking guide and trip reports say about this area.

A My Backpack account is required. You will be asked to register or log in before you can join.

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From Trout Lake it is about 45 min. to the Cultus Creek Campground. Drive west through town on WA-141/Carson Road past the Ranger Station and follow signs to Berry Fields and Carson Road. About 5 miles from the Ranger Station the road becomes FS Road 24 as you enter the Gifford Pinchot NF. Continue on for about 2.5 more miles and  take a right turn off of the pavement to stay on the 24 road. Continue on the 24 road for about 9 more miles to the Cultus Creek Campground. The Cultus Creek trailhead is the first of two trails that start at the campground. The second trail, Indian Heaven # 33 has a trailhead parking area towards the south end of the campground.

Note: Please follow the written directions above instead of using a GPS device. This will ensure that you get to the correct meeting location for this work party. The location of the pinpoint below is only approximate.

Getting to WTA work parties can involve travel on rough, unpaved roads in areas without cellular service and without street addresses that can be accurately used by navigation devices. Unless specifically noted otherwise, routes can generally be traveled by all types of vehicles. Volunteers with limited experience driving on unpaved mountain roads may want to allow extra time, beyond what is recommended in the directions above, to get to the meeting location.

Required Documentation

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