Cultus Lake

I try to do one hike every fall in the Indian Heaven Wilderness. Last year I visited the Red Mountain lookout, which I enjoyed immensely.

Since last Saturday’s forecast called for mostly sunny weather, I settled on another view hike in Indian Heaven starting at Cultus Creek Campground and hiking up to Cultus Lake. Saw some lovely vine maple on Road 24.

The trail launches strait uphill and is incredibly steep for long stretches. This section really could have benefited from some switchbacks! After a long lung-busting mile the trail reaches a viewpoint where you can see Mt. Adams front and center. On a clear day, that is. It was totally hidden from view this day.

To the north I could see Sawtooth Mountain and part of Mt. Rainier. The peaks in front of Rainier are in the Dark Divide Roadless Area, an area I had hoped to get to this summer, but ran out of time.

Steamboat Mountain on the left; Goat Rocks Wilderness on the right:

The trail travels through forest and the occasional meadow before reaching Cultus Lake, which is quite pretty. I paused here to eat a snack and enjoy the quiet.

After Cultus Lake I headed over to the viewpoint above Lake Wapiki. When I got there this was the “view” of Mt. Hood:

And Mt. Adams:

Well, so much for that. I turned around and headed back down. On the hike back out I took the short side trail to Deep Lake, which is VERY popular with the backpackers. Saw lots of tents there. Unlike many of the lakes in Indian Heaven, this one is actually deep enough for swimming. A giant cloud blocking the sun had finally moved aside and the water looked oh so blue in the sunshine.

Saw some fall color throughout the day:

And lots of mushrooms:

This is a really lovely hike. I just wish the weather had cooperated, but I learned my lesson: this is the last time I do a view hike with a “mostly sunny” forecast!