Indian Heaven: Thomas to Blue Lake

Imagine 20,000 acres of pristine wilderness, toss in over 150+ lakes and quite literally thousands of wild huckleberry bushes and you get the Indian Heaven Wilderness.  All three of us had been here before and then Codi and I on another quick backpacking trip.

As the Pacific Northwest gets a brief respite from the heat, and Mia and I take a reprieve from packing the house for our impending move, we decided to head back up for a nice hike and some wild berry picking.

And we’re off

The drive to any of the trailheads along the western side of the I.H.W. is a bit time consuming from PDX metro.  We drove out to Hood River, up to Trout Lake and around from the southeast.  On the way home we just dropped down FR-65 past Panther Creek Campground and through Carson and Stevenson.  I honestly don’t think either is the better option in regards to time.  The White Salmon to Trout Lake option has much nicer views of Mt. Adams though.


We opted to start from the Thomas Lake Trailhead.  The big concern for this area from June through August is the mosquitos.  The little blood suckers can be ferocious until the first frost kills them off (usually September).  It kind of brings Mia and I back to our NH days.  The Wapiki hike was very buggy but today we scored (lucked out?).  Temps at the car were high 50’s with a decent breeze and up towards Blue Lake at the end of our out-and-back hike I bet it was high 40’s or low 50’s.  I think these weather conditions helped keep the bugs to a minimum.

Freaking parking lot was packed
Less than 3/4 of a mile brings you to Thomas Lake (and camping)

I imagine there are people who come out here, “hike” the 0.6 miles to Thomas Lake, and then tell all their friends they went “backpacking for the weekend”.  I’m not faulting them, though I may be making fun of them just a little bit.  It really is a fantastic effort to reward ratio.

One of many swimming opportunities today

For all the cars in the parking lot we really didn’t see all that many people today.  We did see quite a few tents near the various lakes and ran into a couple groups and individuals hiking but it wasn’t wall to wall people.


Only Codi is looking at the camera

We kept randomly stopping during our hike to pick huckleberries from the bushes along the trail.  It was interesting to see how the flavors varied on them from area to area.  It was also funny trying to keep Codi from eating everything we picked.


I think Mia and I both kick ourselves for not turning this into a quick overnight trip.  Even with the cool temps and drizzle it would have been totally doable.  Most of our camping equipment is already packed in moving boxes though.

Coming up on Blue Lake

Not long after we got to Blue Lake the clouds and mist really rolled in.  It didn’t rain heavily but it was enough to deter us from dilly dallying around.  Lunch was eaten on the go after letting Codi swim some more and catching sight of a mountain goat across the lake.

Indian Heaven = Dog Heaven
Crappy iPhone zoom of the mountain goat

Perhaps with a little luck we can get out here for a quick overnighter this fall?  With the move, 24 hour race, Mia’s half marathon and Paul coming out, I’m not confident it will happen but I am willing to keep the option open.

Wet, tired, and happy pup
Sunday morning wild huckleberry pancakes

Thanks for reading

all the pics here




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