Indian or Mosquito Heaven?

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The Wilderness

I drove to the Indian Heaven Wilderness, located southwest of Mt. Adams, on an early July day. The Wilderness is situated on a high plateau, averaging about 5,000 feet in elevation, with many open meadows and over 150 lakes. The area is famous for its huckleberry fields.

After parking at the East Crater Trailhead on the south side of the Wilderness, I began hiking northwest through a mountain hemlock forest, with noble fir trees becoming more prevalent as I gained elevation. After 1 1/2 miles I began passing small ponds covered in floating grasses. Huckleberry bushes were everywhere but not a berry in sight. In another month or so the huckleberries will be at their prime in the higher elevations.

At 2 1/2 miles Junction Lake was reached, the first of many larger lakes along the Trail. I took a four-mile loop hike through large meadows and by multiple lakes. Lemei, Clear, Deer, Elk and many smaller lakes were passed.

Soon I rejoined the Pacific Crest Trail and returned to Junction Lake. Due to melting snow in places and warm sunshine, the mosquitoes were hatching by the thousands and were very hungry.

During the hike back to the trailhead, they just about wore me down. If I stopped to take a photo, they instantly would swarm all around me. Where is a cold breeze I kept saying to myself. As I learned many years ago, the area is a much more pleasant place to visit in the fall when the skeets are gone.

Indian Heaven (mosquitoes or no mosquitoes) remains one of the most enjoyable wildernesses near Portland.

Sitka Mountain Ash and Engelmann Spruce

Small pond along the trail

Avalanche Lilies

Trail crossing large sub-alpine meadow

Lemei Lake

Melting snow on the trail

Lemei Rock in background

Bear-grass (wild Lily)

One of many ponds along the trail (mosquito breeding heaven)

The ubiquitous PCT


Categories: Washington Cascades HikesTags: , ,


  1. The joy of this particular post is that I got zero mosquito bites! I usually get lots.
    Really enjoyed this hike, John, seeing the meadows, ponds, lakes, and vibrant flora along the trail. Ground snow in July!

  2. You know the snow is barely melted when you see the Avalanche Lilies! And often mosquito bites are the price of admission. Thanks for taking us there with your great pics!

  3. I love this area. Went for a hike up here last September and ended up trudging through 8” of snow, crossed paths with a black bear. It was pretty cool to see it like that.

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