I enjoyed a wonderful day in the Indian Heaven Wilderness. It was the last weekend of summer with sunshine quickly burning off the low-lying clouds.
Huckleberries were ripe with their leaves turning crimson in the early morning light. There were scattered signs of black bears and many fresh tracks of elk to see.
I began the hike at the Thomas Lake Trailhead on the west side of Indian Heaven. The 32 square-mile Wilderness lies between Mt. Adams and Mt. St. Helens. It contains over 150 lakes and has many large, open meadows to explore.
After hiking several miles to the east, while passing multiple lakes, I followed a faint path across the meadows to Junction Lake and the Pacific Crest Trail. From there it was a relatively easy hike southerly to Blue Lake located below Gifford Peak.
After finding a nice spot in the sunshine, I laid back, ate a snack and marveled at the deep blue color of the lake. Reluctantly, I put my daypack on and savored every inch of the loop trail returning to the Trailhead.
Indian Heaven remains one of the prettiest autumn areas near Portland.