Pets allowed
Allowed
Elevation Gain
?
Trail type
There-and-back
Distance
6.80 mi (10.94 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

Truly memorable views tend to be those you can somehow feel: you may feel hair rise on the back of your neck, your lips may involuntarily smile, or you might hear your own gasp.  The views from Indian Point, meanwhile, are so vertiginous that you may feel your stomach plunge right out of your body or hear it splash into the Columbia River some 2,000-feet below.  And while climbing gear and proper training are necessary to scale the basalt cone that forms the point, the narrow ridge that connects the point to terra firma adequately rewards those with the moxie to make the trip.  In fact, even those of us who cling to the earth for dear life will enjoy the views from the safe and stable areas on the trail leading down to the cliffs.

As you take in the view, you may wonder if the trembling in your legs is a result of fear of heights or of hiking the 2,600-foot ascent from the Herman Creek Trailhead.  The Herman Creek-Gorton Creek climb is the best kind challenge, constantly rewarding your exertion with the cool smells of moss, sword ferns and Douglas fir, or the occasional vista previews as you gain altitude.  In spring the wildflowers throughout this hike are constant companions.  The hiking trail is well signed, and the trail junctions are straightforward as long as you remember you are taking the Herman Creek Trail to the Gorton Creek Trail.  Be advised that the Herman Creek Campground is closed in the winter.

From the Herman Creek-Gorton Creek junction, climb on the Gorton Creek Trail for 2.6 miles until you reach the Ridge Cutoff Trail. Please note that the informal trail to Indian Point is not signed.  To find this trail, proceed on the Gorton Trail past the Ridge Cutoff Trail.  Keep a sharp eye on the ground to your left, and after approximately 50 yards you will see the small trail that leads you down to Indian Point.  Once you are finished, return to the Ridge Cutoff Trail and take it to the Nick Eaton Trail for more excellent views and a steep downhill descent back to the Herman Creek Trail.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Winter
Spring
Summer
Fall

Congestion

Low

Parking Pass

NW Forest Pass

Pros

No crowds in winter. Spectacular views. Close to Portland. Wildflowers in the spring.

Cons

Difficult elevation gain.

Trailhead Elevation

312.00 ft (95.10 m)

Net Elevation Gain

2,692.00 ft (820.52 m)

Features

Big vistas
Old-growth forest
Wildflowers

Location

Field Guide + Map

Nearby Lodging + Camping

Comments

08/04/2018
I hiked this suggested loop including going out to Indian Point. Arriving at the Herman Creek Trailhead at 12 noon on a Saturday, the lot was full, but luckily while I was changing into my hiking clothes a couple left an open spot to park. I wasn't sure what to expect as this area only just opened back up to the public in the past month or so after work was done to make the trails traversable again following the extensive damage from the Eagle Creek fire of 2017. It must be stated that what you see will be very different from the original description and photos.

If you are hoping to see the rocky outcrop of Indian Point itself, note that some care must be taken going down and then back up the "informal" trail that forks off the Gorton Trail. I had to scuttle / do a very low limbo dance under a large fallen bush, and the currently dry soil makes it all the easier for the rocky gravel to slip out from underneath you.

I have read reports from hikers that the fire damage is not so bad along the Herman Creek and adjoining trails. As of August 2018 this is absolutely untrue. It is easy to be fooled by what little ground cover flora has returned in the wake of the Eagle Creek fire’s area of destruction. But there are definite signs of impending erosion everywhere, and despite my experience and caution, I did slip a few times in the very dry and lose ground on the way down the Nick Eaton Trail. When it rains again in earnest later this year the trails will likely be much more difficult to traverse and I would not be surprised if they will need to be again closed to the public. The state of the ecosystem will continue to be relatively fragile for some time to come.

Having finally seen first-hand the extent of the destruction caused by the Eagle Creek fire, I can say that a hike in this area is a solemn sobering reminder not to take for granted the natural beauty so readily accessible to us, that there can be enduring consequences to our actions, both thoughtful - and thoughtless.

Despite all of this, I highly recommend a hike here to see the effects of the Eagle Creek fire for yourself. You may need to stop a few times as I did, overwhelmed by the stands of completely burnt trees, and the surreal sight of blood red sap dripping down the sides of some, as they go through a slow death. Nevertheless, witnessing the immense beauty and resilience of the forest still makes it all worth the visit.
03/18/2017
We tried to do this hike on Saturday but got turned around when the trail suddenly gained a foot and a half of snow on the ridge. We tried to post hole for about a mile before we decided it was too much and came down the other way. I will have to give it another go soon!
08/06/2016
Arrived at the Herman Creak Campground at about 7:30am and the car lot had about 8 - 10 cars already there. Still, only saw a few people at the trail head. Did the loop counter-clockwise and didn't see a soul until I arrived at the top.
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