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Indian Racetrack via the PCT Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

Indian Racetrack meadow (bobcat)
Sheep Lake, on the Pacific Crest Trail (bobcat)
Red Mountain from the Pacific Crest Trail (bobcat)
Route to the Indian Racetrack; Red Mountain Add-on in green (not a GPS track) (bobcat) Courtesy: National Geographic Topo
  • Start point: Crest Camp TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End Point: Indian Racetrack
  • Trail Log:
  • Distance: 8.0 miles
  • Hike type: Out-and-back
  • Elevation gain: 850 feet
  • High Point: 4285 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Seasons: Summer - Fall
  • Family Friendly: Yes, for older kids
  • Backpackable: Yes
  • Crowded: No


Hike Description

The longer way to the Indian Racetrack approaches via the Pacific Crest Trail (Begin at the Falls Creek Horse Camp Trailhead if you want a shorter hike). The meadow itself is a marvelous golden expanse in late summer and fall and invites some dallying after all the mosquitoes are gone. The optional Red Mountain Add-on Hike adds a viewpoint and a lookout to your day.

After signing in at the Wilderness Permit box, enter a forest of silver fir, noble fir, Douglas-fir, and mountain hemlock, with some lodgepole and western white pine. Bear-grass, huckleberry, twin flower, and vanilla leaf form the understory. Rise gently and cross a dry creek bed, which you will soon recross. The trail switchbacks. Look to your left above this rise and note eleven mountain hemlocks rising out of the same spot, probably seeded from the same cone. Pass little Sheep Lake on your left and rise again through a meadow. Cross a creek bed and head gradually up, undulating a little and entering the Indian Heaven Wilderness, before reaching Green Lake. After this, the trail passes through a large meadow with a view to the lookout tower on the summit of Red Mountain. You will pass the unmarked Pacific Crest-Cascade Crest Trail South Junction, the abandoned CCT now a trace through low-growing blueberries. Seventy-five yards later, reach the Pacific Crest-Racetrack Shortcut Trail Junction.

Go left here, rising slightly through the woods before dropping to a small meadow, which leads to a larger meadow, and then finally, half a mile from the junction, to the expanse of the Racetrack Meadow. Reach the signposted Indian Racetrack-Racetrack Shortcut Trail Junction in the middle of the meadow. Go right a short distance to view the shallow Racetrack Lake. Go straight and then left to see a sign marking the continuation of the Racetrack Trail #171 up the slopes of Red Mountain.

The racetrack course, described on the Indian Racetrack page, runs straight through the meadow. There is no trail on the west side of the meadow although many people, obviously, have followed this route into the woods looking for one.


  • Maps: Hike Finder
  • Green Trails Maps: Wind River, WA #397
  • Indian Heaven (USFS)
  • 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

Fees, Regulations, etc.

  • Self-issued wilderness permit at trailhead

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this destination

  • Hiking Washington's Mount Adams Country by Fred Barstad
  • Day Hike! Columbia Gorge by Seabury Blair, Jr.
  • 95 Virtual Hikes of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest and the Mt. St. Helens National Volcanic Monument by Northwest Hiker
  • Washington: The Creaky Knees Guide by Seabury Blair, Jr.
  • Hiking the Pacific Crest Trail: Washington by Tami Asars
  • Hiking Washington's History by Judy Bentley
  • The Forgotten Forest: Exploring the Gifford Pinchot by the Washington Trails Association
  • Exploring Washington's Wild Areas by Marge & Ted Mueller
  • Indian Heaven Back Country by Mel Hansen
  • 33 Hiking Trails: Southern Washington Cascades by Don & Roberta Lowe
  • The Columbia Gorge: Short Trips and Trails by Oral Bullard & Don Lowe

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.