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Heart Lake Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

Heart Lake and Little Mt. Adams (bobcat)
Big spring on the Hellroaring Meadows Trail (bobcat)
Mossy creek, Hellroaring Meadows Trail (bobcat)
The short hike to Heart Lake (bobcat)
  • Start point: Hellroaring Meadows Trailhead
  • Ending Point: Heart Lake
  • Trail Log:
  • Hike Type: In and out
  • Distance: 2.0 miles
  • Elevation gain: 150 feet
  • High Point: 5,380 feet
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Seasons: Mid-summer into Fall
  • Family Friendly: Yes
  • Backpackable: No
  • Crowded: No


Hike Description

NOTE: The area of this hike was severely affected by the extensive Cougar Complex Fire of 2015. As of summer 2018, the area was still closed.

On Yakama Nation land and part of the Mt. Adams Recreation Area, Heart Lake is a small forest lake at the site of a former glacial icefall at the east end of Hellroaring Meadows. Little Mount Adams looms above the lake and is reflected in its still waters. A wall of andesite just west of the lake is sometimes used by climbers. The Hellroaring Meadows Trail leads one mile in to the lake.

From the trailhead, keep on a gentle or level gradient as you head into the glacial valley of Hellroaring Creek. The forest here is dominated by mountain hemlock with a huckleberry understory. Pass above a boggy meadow and mossy creek as you continue up the western side of the valley. At a talus slope squeaking with pikas, a large spring issues to feed the creek. The trail veers right here into a parkland of conifers and wet meadows blooming with lovage, groundsel, lupine, paintbrush, and heliotrope in summer. Come to a short section of trail paved with stones and then make a log crossing of a branch of Hellroaring Creek. Walk across a boggy meadow and then rise up a little slope to reach the shore of Heart Lake, a dark little expanse reflecting the cinder cone of Little Mount Adams rearing above.

On the north side of the lake, a short use trail leads to the top of the 100-foot tumbling cascade of Hellroaring Creek Falls that spills over a former icefall area in the days when this was a glacier-filled valley.

Fees, Regulations, etc.

  • $2 toll each way at the Hood River Bridge
  • $5 five-day pass for Tract D (Mt. Adams Recreation Area)


  • Maps: Hike Finder
  • Green Trails Maps: Mount Adams, WA #367S
  • Yakama Nation: Mount Adams Recreation Area Overview
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: Mt. Adams Wilderness, Indian Heaven Wilderness, Trapper Creek Wilderness
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: Mt. Adams Ranger District
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: Gifford Pinchot National Forest
  • National Geographic Trails Illustrated Map: Mount St. Helens - Mt. Adams

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this destination

  • Day Hiking Mount Adams and Goat Rocks by Tami Asars
  • Washington's South Cascades Volcanic Landscapes by Marge and Ted Mueller
  • Best Short Hikes in Washington's South Cascades & Olympics by E.M. Sterling & Ira Spring
  • 95 Virtual Hikes of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest and the Mt. St. Helens National Volcanic Monument by Northwest Hiker

More Links

Page Contributors

Oregon Hikers Field Guide is built as a collaborative effort by its user community. While we make every effort to fact-check, information found here should be considered anecdotal. You should cross-check against other references before planning a hike. Trail routing and conditions are subject to change. Please contact us if you notice errors on this page.

Hiking is a potentially risky activity, and the entire risk for users of this field guide is assumed by the user, and in no event shall Trailkeepers of Oregon be liable for any injury or damages suffered as a result of relying on content in this field guide. All content posted on the field guide becomes the property of Trailkeepers of Oregon, and may not be used without permission.