Pets allowed
Elevation Gain
900.00 ft (274.32 m)
Trail type
8.50 mi (13.68 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.

With over 150 alpine lakes, and in an area of Washington State visited by few people, the Indian Heaven Wilderness* is a backpacker’s heaven.  With nearly two hundred lakes and numerous peak outcroppings, creating a weekend itinerary can be a challenge. One easy option is a visit to Placid Lake. Rambling through a forest of noble fir, subalpine fir, mountain hemlock and huckleberries, the trail takes you to Placid Lake, and then, in the shadow of Bird Mountain, climbs the moderately arduous 900 feet to the Clear Lake area just west of Lemei Rock. Once you reach Clear Lake, the Wilderness area is open to explore as you see fit. Be forewarned: due to the extensive network of lakes and meadows be sure to bring your mosquito repellent, particularly in early summer.

Here are some additional exploration ideas for the wilderness area: scramble an additional 700 ft. to the top of Bird Mountain for incredible views of Mount Adams, Mount St. Helens, Mount Hood, and Mount Rainer; hike east 3 miles to Lake Wapiki on the east side of Lemei Rock; or hike south past East Crater on the Pacific Crest Trail for 3.3 miles to the Blue Lake/Lake Sahalee Tyee area.

* The Indian Heaven Wilderness is a protected area within the Gifford Pinchot National Forest located between Mount St. Helens and Mount Adams. At roughly 20,960 acres, the area is an elevated volcanic plateau averaging 4,000 to 5,000 feet in elevation, and dotted with more than 150 alpine lakes.  The plateau itself is comprised of numerous overlapping shield volcanoes, spatter cones, and cinder cones, all erupting as recently as 8,000 years ago, creating the majority of the wilderness area's most prominent peaks, including Lemei Rock, the area's highest point at 5,927 feet. Since that time, the area originally known as “Sahalee Tyee” has played a critical role in the livelihood of local Native Americans who gathered there for berry picking, fishing and hunting, hence its westernized name.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass

Wilderness Permit


Numerous lakes perfect for backpacking. Serene wilderness.


Snow pack until late in summer. Mosquitoes.

Trailhead Elevation

4,040.00 ft (1,231.39 m)


Backcountry camping
Old-growth forest


Nearby Adventures

Mt. Adams/Indian Heaven Wilderness/Goat Rocks, Washington
Washington, Southwest Washington/Mount St. Helens
Southwest Washington/Mount St. Helens, Washington

Nearby Lodging + Camping

Southwest Washington/Mount St. Helens, Washington
Mt. Adams/Indian Heaven Wilderness/Goat Rocks, Washington


9/3/17 A (camper-started) fire began at Junction Lake. After 3 days exploring this incredibly stunning forest, we were heartbroken to leave a day early due to this travesty. I'm not sure how many acres and where the fire has spread, but you'll want to check with the Ranger Station at Trout Lake before venturing into Indian Heaven Wilderness area.
what time of year were photos taken? Would you expect snow pack into late July?
Nate, thanks for the corrections to the driving directions! Very helpful! We've made the edits.
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