Backpack Indian Heaven to Blue Lake

Thomas Lake Trailhead

Hike in to amazing views of Mt. Hood, Mt. Adams, and Mt. Rainier. You can score a great campsite by Blue Lake. The mosquitos can get a little heavy if you go in the high season.

Crowds and mosquitoes were nonexistent as we went a bit early in the season. The trails were all covered in snow, but we were able to do some way finding with a GPS and topo map.

3.5 miles in we found a dry spot next to Blue Lake and set up shop. After dropping off our gear we climbed up Gifford Peak to catch some views of the area. We could see Mt Hood, Mt Adams and Mt Rainier along with a nice aerial view of Indian Heaven. That night we made a nice warm fire and drank too much whiskey. Falling asleep was not a problem. In the morning we did some exploring around Blue Lake before packing up and hiking out of the snowy wilderness.

To get here from Portland, head east on 84 and then cross into WA via the Bridge of the gods. Go north thru Carson and then continue into Gifford Pinchot NF. From there you will need good directions to find the trailhead - coordinates are 46.00555, -121.83761. Do your research and you’ll be fine.

If you hit this area early in the season like we did to avoid crowds and mosquitoes. It’s been said that after the mosquitoes are out for the season the place is just a pretty nightmare.

Pack List

  • NW Pass is required at the trailhead
  • REI half dome tent
  • Osprey 50L Atmos pack
  • Jetboil
  • Snowpeak dinnerware
  • Black Diamond trekking poles
  • Headlamps
  • Lantern
  • Northface waterproof pants
  • Patagonia down sweater
  • Mountain House Dinners
Show More
RT Distance 7 Miles
Activities Camping, Backpacking, Hiking
Skill Level Intermediate
Season Spring, Summer, Autumn
Trail Type Out-and-Back
Features
Forest
Lake
Scenic

Reviews

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Overall rating: 

Indian Heaven-Blue Lake

This is an amazing hike to do. There are several lakes that you will pass on your way to Blue Lake. Very beautiful all around the area. Heads up on the time of season you go because of mosquitos. Also if you are going to camp overnight I would suggest getting there early. A friend and I got a late start, and every camp site was taken. Given that all sites are spaced out to where you won’t bother your neighbors, it’s one of the best places I have stayed. The lake itself is pretty cold, yet it feels refreshing getting in. Also I would highly recommend downloading Topo Maps before you head out. You won’t have service so this is a must! Had we not downloaded our maps, it would have been very difficult to find. So good luck and adventure on!

Amazing Lakes... Blood-thirsty Bugs

Incredible lakes that appear at every bend capped by the gem, Blue Lake. Bugs were bad though. Really bad. On the other hand, the fish were biting!

Foggy weekend in May

I did a two day, 25ish-mile backpacking loop in Indian Heaven last May and it was fantastic. Relatively flat hiking most of the time, which meant we could get more distance each day. The only drawback was that it was so foggy the entire trip we could usually only see about 50 feet ahead of us. The area was still stunning and the steady blanket of fog made it a truly relaxing, serene experience (especially since we only saw two other people the whole time!) but I do feel like we missed out on some of those mountain views. We camped near Junction Lake as the biting wind coming off the larger lakes was just too cold that early in the season. Overall, I'd highly recommend this trip!


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