Indian Heaven via Thomas Lake


Backpack - Indian Heaven via Thomas Lake

Enjoy fall colors & scenery among Indian Heaven lakes, 2-night camp at Blue Lake (or Junction Lake) & middle day hike to explore trails to more lakes from base camp.

COVID-19: Learn about our most up-to-date guidance for participants and leaders on our COVID-19 Response page. All participants and leaders must agree to the COVID-19 Code of Conduct before participating in this Mountaineers activity.
  • Easy
  • Mileage: 15.0 mi
  • Elevation Gain: 1,100 ft
  • High Point Elevation: 5,200 ft
  • Pace: 1-1.5 mph

Arrive 8:30 am Thomas Lake trailhead; ready to backpack by 8:45am.  Toilet at TH.

Each vehicle must display Northwest Forest Pass, America the Beautiful or similar pass.


From  Seattle area:  I-5 south to Woodland exit at WA-503, east on WA -503 to Cougar, WA-503/FR 90 to Pine Creek Info Center, then south (past Eagle Cliff Park (restroom) to Curly Creek Road, right turn onto Curly Creek road then drive 5 mi to junction with Wind River Road, left turn signed "Berry Fields,"  right onto gravel FR-6507, then left .5 mi on gravel FR 65 to TH,   Approx 206 mi; 4.5 hours.

From Yakima area:  take i-82 E toward Richland, take exit 37 for US-97 S toward Goldendale/Bend; then take WA-14 W to 1st exit onto Wind River Rd  toward Carson, continue north on Wind River Rd (FR 30), past Curly Creek Road on right, right turn onto gravel FR-6507, then left .5 mi on  FR 65 to TH,  Approx 158 mis; 3.5 to 4 hours drive time.  Shorten drive time by about 30 minutes by taking I-84 between US-97 S and Cascade Locks, OR; toll bridge over Columbia River at Cascade Locks then E on WA-14 to Wind River Road turnoff near Carson.  Approx 158 mi; 3-3.5 hours.

From Vancouver,WA  or Portland,OR:  Drive WA-14 east to Carson, north on Wind River highway, bypass junction with Curly Creek Road, continuing north toward on Wind River Road (FR-30) Berry Fields, then right onto gravel FR-6507, and left .5mi to TH.  Shorten drive time 20-30 minutes by taking I-84 between I-5 or I-205 and Cascade Locks, OR; toll bridge over Columbia River at Cascade Locks; then E on WA-14 via Stevenson to Wind River Road turnoff near Carson.  Approx 75-80 mi; 1-3/4 to 2 hours.

Revised 9/25 (itinerary details): 

Please read leader notes.  Thanks!

Revised 9/10:   leader permission required.  Submit copy of vax card on leader permission form or via email to leader for leader's approval of registration.   Mask recommended when within 6 feet of other hikers.  Bring personal hand sanitizer.

Fully Vaccinated participants only.   

Enjoy vivid fall colors and scenery among Indian Heaven lakes, 2-nights at base camp (Blue or Junction Lake) and middle day hike (6-10 mi) to explore trails to see more lakes north of our base camp.   Leisurely pace. 

A limited number of designated campsites are located in Blue Lake area, for small groups (4-6 tents), a large group site (10-12 tents) and or some tent sharing.  An  alternate base camp at Junction Lake's undesignated camping areas may be likely as the lake has greater capacity (sites for 4-8 tents) and is better suited for larger number of tents.  Blue Lake is approximately 3.4 mi from the TH; Junction Lake is 1.7 mi north of Blue Lake via PCT trail #2000 or about 3 mi mi from TH via Old PCT cutoff trail via Rock Lake and PCT to Junction Lake.


Day 1:  From Thomas Lk TH to Blue Lake base camp 3.4 mi 700' gain.

--OR TH via Blue Lk to Junction Lk base camp 5.4 mi 700' gain & 100' loss.

Day 2:  From Blue Lk camp via PCT north to Junction Lk, PCT north to Bear & Elk Lakes; trail to Bear  & Elk Lakes,  trail 33 Clear Lk; trail 179 via Lemei Lk to Junction Lk; PCT south to Blue Lk. Up to 9.4 mi 300' gain & loss.

--OR  From Junction Lk camp via PCT north to Bear Lk jct; trail to Bear  & Elk Lakes,  trail 33/33A to Clear, Cultus & Deep Lakes; trail 179 via Lemei Lk to Junction Lk.  Up to 8 mi 470' gain/loss.

Day 3:  From Blue Lk camp to TH 3.4 mi 700' loss.

--OR From Junction Lk camp to TH, via Old PCT and Rock Lk 3.1 mi 700' loss

Indian Heaven designated backcountry camp sites:  see link for more info and map at

For those driving 3-4 hours, consider motel stay or camping the night prior to backpack.  Enroute you'll find motels in Woodland and Cougar, or car camping options (FS sites, Pacifc Corp sites along Swift Reservoir) near Cougar, off Wind River Road or closer to TH.  Dispersed camping available in Gifford-Pinchot NF.  Bring water for car camping and for backpack to base camp.  

Pack foods for day 1 lunch through day 3 lunch.

On Saturday, we will break camp about  9am and aim to return to trailhead by early afternoon.

Trail description in 100 Hikes and Travel Guide for Northwest Oregon and Southwest Washington (Sullivan); Indian Heaven Back Country: Trails, Lakes and Indian Lore (Hansen); Oregon Field Guide, and Day Hiking Mount Adams and Goat Rocks (Asars) which includes Indian Heaven trails.


Indian Heaven via Thomas Lake

Required Equipment

Required Equipment

The Ten Essentials plus overnight gear which may include:

  • Tent with footprint/ground tarp
  • Stove and fuel
  • Sleeping bag
  • Sleeping pad
  • Water filter
  • Bear canister, Ursack or extra stuff sack and cord designated for hanging food
  • Cooking pot/pan with plate and utensils
  • Toilet paper and shovel or blue bag to deal with waste (pack out TP)
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