Indian Heaven Wilderness is a truly special place. Native American tribes met here annually for almost 10,000 years to gather the plentiful huckleberries, fish in more than 150 small lakes that dot the region, hunt, trade, race horses, and celebrate together. Through a rare handshake agreement in 1932 by the Yakima Nation and the Forest Service, the Sawtooth Berry Fields on the north end of the wilderness are only accessible by local tribes.
The area is generally snow free by mid-July, but summer mosquito swarms keep the area known as a “mosquito heaven.” Fall is a much better season to hike here due to the abundance of huckleberry and heather that that turn brilliant shades of red and orange in late autumn.
This hike begins at the south end of the Cultus Creek campground near a sign for “Indian Heaven Trail No. 33 Parking Area.” The first 1.5 miles of trail steeply climb up the side of Bird Mountain through thick Douglas fir forest. After about a mile, an opening in the ridge offers outstanding views of Mount Adams to the east, with Mount Rainier, Goat Rocks, and Sawtooth Mountain visible to the north. The trail levels out near the base of Bird Mountain and proceeds through several sections of pine forest and open meadow before reaching the splendid alpine beauty of Cultus Lake. A short side trail just before Cultus Lake leads to Deep Lake.
At the trail junction past Cultus Lake, turn left on the Lake Wapiki Trail and continue just over a mile through several open meadows with stands of noble and Pacific silver fir to Lemei Rock, an ancient volcanic crag and the highest point in the wilderness. Go past Lemei Rock and through an uphill wooded area to an opening with a view down toward Lake Wapiki, a bright blue lake that sits in an old cinder cone. Views of Mount Adams dominate to the east. You can continue another mile to the lake, or turn around and return the same way.