Indian Heaven Labor Day weekend

Trip recommendations, current conditions, and other trail related Q&A
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jortina
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Joined: May 28th, 2019, 10:03 am

Indian Heaven Labor Day weekend

Post by jortina » August 28th, 2021, 3:04 pm

Hi all, would really like to explore Indian Heaven for the first time this Labor Day weekend weather/smoke permitting. My family backpacks with another family for a total of 4 2-man tents, so we do need to find more spacious campsites. We've definitely hiked further than planned on holiday weekends but always found something, other than this past July 4 when there were no sites at Burnt Lake.

Anyway, I am considering one of the several Indian Heaven loops outlined on this site or in the Douglas Loraine book, and it seems promising that there are multiple lakes and site options. Do you think we will run into areas so crowded there will be no sites? Any tips on a trail that might take us by the most options in the lowest mileage?

Thanks!

bushwhacker
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Joined: September 7th, 2009, 3:56 pm
Location: Troutdale

Re: Indian Heaven Labor Day weekend

Post by bushwhacker » August 29th, 2021, 4:00 pm

Blue Lake and Thomas Lake have designated camp sites so unless you get there early I would avoid those. The rest are open. Most of the areas around those lakes are relatively flat so you should be able to find something. It might just be a matter of how far you want to lug water.

I was up there on Wednesday and went in from the Placid Lake trailhead and did a loop past Junction Lake and Lemei Lake. Both Junction and Lemei Lakes look pretty sorry at this late date due to evaporation so probably not the best choices either. Clear, Deer, Bear Lakes looked great and are all close together and are easily reached by Cultus Creek or East Crater trails.

Lots of PCT hikers this time of year and day hikers (most seemed to have come up from Cultus Creek). The dispersed car camping is out of control up there with the few camp spots at the Placid Lake trailhead taken up you many tents and cars which looked like they have set up a semi-permanent village. And a horse camp that had taken up part of the trailhead parking lot :x .

Titogoeshiking3
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Re: Indian Heaven Labor Day weekend

Post by Titogoeshiking3 » August 29th, 2021, 4:06 pm

Bear lake is my favorite. Hope you have a great trip.

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drm
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Re: Indian Heaven Labor Day weekend

Post by drm » August 30th, 2021, 6:21 pm

You didn't say when you are expecting to arrive at your campsite. If that is Saturday afternoon, then you will likely have problems finding a large site. If you just needed to set up one small tent, then it's easy to improvise. Not so with four tents. It's made worse that most of the creeks in Indian Heaven are dry with the summer we have had, and camping on a creek away from the lakes is usually the first overflow choice.

Anybody expecting to arrive at their campsite Saturday afternoon should at least carry extra water bottles so they are prepared to camp away from water, which is usually what it takes to find a site in a popular area at times of high demand.

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BigBear
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Re: Indian Heaven Labor Day weekend

Post by BigBear » September 9th, 2021, 6:33 pm

Now that Labor Day is complete, it is a better time to explore the IH wilderness. And even now, weekdays would be preferable to weekend dates.

My favorite spots:
1) Wood Lake. It is a half-mile off trail and down a hill which makes it more remote.
2) Deep Lake. Don't camp on the slope of the lake, but the meadow to the south.
3) Bear Lake. Popular, but if you hit it on a weekday, not so bad.
4) Clear Lake. Not the well-traveled north side, but along the abandoned trail on the south side.
5) Blue Lake. Very over-crowded but if you can find a day when the parking lot is empty...
6) Lemei Lake. There's a nice knoll on the south side of the lake and its off the PCT.
7) Elk Lake. A nice alternative to Bear Lake.
8) Rock Lake. There's a lot of foot traffic during the day.
9) Acker Lake. The west end is private.
10) Lake Sahalie Tyee. This is the overflow for Blue Lake.
11) Chenemus Lake. The more remote alternative to the for-the-kids Placid Lake.
12) Thomas Lake. Never camped here, and if you don't have young kids, why here?

Since I don't backpack anymore, I feel more relaxed in revealing my favorites. I have a sleep apnea machine now, and everyone says "you can get batteries for that," but you know what, no one is willing to carry the batteries for me. Imagine that?!

I did most of my backpacking in the 90s when foot traffic was so limited that the trails were often covered in purple bear scat. It was a wonderful place to go and relax. Now, the biggest challenge is finding a parking space.

ejain
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Joined: August 18th, 2017, 1:17 pm

Re: Indian Heaven Labor Day weekend

Post by ejain » September 13th, 2021, 9:50 pm

BigBear wrote:
September 9th, 2021, 6:33 pm
4) Clear Lake. Not the well-traveled north side, but along the abandoned trail on the south side.
Thank you for sharing!

To add my 2¢: The "abandoned trail" to the south side of Clear Lake follows the west shore (and continues on to Bear Lake). Don't try to follow the far more abandoned trail along the east shore :)

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drm
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Re: Indian Heaven Labor Day weekend

Post by drm » September 14th, 2021, 5:42 am

ejain wrote:
September 13th, 2021, 9:50 pm
Don't try to follow the far more abandoned trail along the east shore :)
I did - the forest convinced me of the error of my ways.

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