Home  •   Field Guide  •   Forums  •    Unread Posts  •   Maps  •   Find a Hike!
| Page | Discussion | View source | History | Print Friendly and PDF

Junction Lake Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

Junction Lake, Indian Heaven (bobcat)
Creek crossing on the East Crater Trail (bobcat)
Fir-rimmed meadow, East Crater Trail (bobcat)
Tarn, East Crater Trail (bobcat)
The East Crater Trail to Junction Lake (not a GPS track) (bobcat) Courtesy: Caltopo
  • Start point: East Crater TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End Point: Junction Lake
  • Distance: 5.0 miles
  • Hike type: In and out
  • Elevation gain: 725 feet
  • High Point: 4780 feet
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Seasons: Summer into Fall
  • Family Friendly: Yes
  • Backpackable: Yes
  • Crowded: Yes


Hike Description

This short hike with minimal elevation gain takes you into the heart of wilderness and gives you a taste of what Indian Heaven is all about: huckleberries, especially bog blueberries, in late August; boggy meadows; a tranquil lake scudding with goldeneyes; and the choice of a short bushwhack to the rim of East Crater. You can also find a campsite in the vicinity and explore much of the rest of the wilderness from here. Mosquitoes can be a major irritation in the first half of the summer, but are usually less of a menace by mid-August.

The trail heads in past a wilderness permit station in montane forest of lichen-draped mountain hemlock, Douglas-fir, noble and silver fir as well as the odd western larch. Note the hemlock drilled with sapsucker holes right at the trailhead. Cross a boggy area on stepping stones. The path rises through bear-grass and huckleberry bushes and crosses a couple of rocky stream beds, the second on a footbridge. Cross two more footbridges and pass an abandoned trail bed leading to the right. Cross a stream on a footbridge, and then pass a wet meadow and wind up a slope. Pass a couple more small meadows and then one more with a shallow tarn, where you'll observe charred conifers from the 2017 East Crater Fire. Rise alongside the small creek; the trail heads along the south side of a linear meadow with the steep slope of the East Crater to the left. Get a view of Junction Lake on the right. Reach the Pacific Crest-East Crater Trail Junction, and make a right. Soon pass the unmarked junction with the old route of the Pacific Crest Trail, cross a footbridge and then reach the Pacific Crest-Lemei Lake Trail Junction. Explore the shores of Junction Lake from here.

See the Junction Lake-Bear Lake Loop Hike for a description of a loop in the central section of the Indian Heaven Wilderness.

Note on the off-trail bushwhack to the East Crater:

The East Crater rim can be accessed from either the Pacific Crest Trail south of the Pacific Crest-East Crater Trail Junction or the East Crater Trail. The former ascent involves slightly less elevation gain but is brushier. The latter has more deer/elk trails to follow. In any case, you will be bushwhacking about 600 feet up through huckleberry bushes and silver fir saplings and negotiating some blowdown. When you get to the rim, head left and walk along a user path to the steep rise to the high point. From here, you can get an expansive view north and east, from Mount Rainier to Goat Rocks and Mount Adams, the latter hiding behind Lemei Rock. You can also descend from the rim to the crater floor with its meadow and seasonal lake. Keep yourself well-oriented at all times. Some slopes of the East Crater were burned by a 2017 wildfire.


  • Maps: Hike Finder
  • Green Trails Maps: Wind River, WA #397 and Lone Butte, WA #365
  • 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 Hiking Mount Adams and Goat Rocks by Tami Asars
  • 95 Virtual Hikes of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest and the Mt. St. Helens National Volcanic Monument by Northwest Hiker
  • 100 Hikes: Northwest Oregon by William L. Sullivan
  • Portland Hikes by Art Bernstein & Andrew Jackman
  • Best Hikes With Kids: Western Washington & the Cascades by Joan Burton
  • 33 Hiking Trails: Southern Washington Cascades by Don & Roberta Lowe
  • Skamania 231: A Scrambler's Guide by Kelly Wagner (East Crater)
  • Exploring Washington's Wild Areas by Marge & Ted Mueller
  • Indian Heaven Back Country by Mel Hansen

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.