Indian Heaven Wilderness, located within the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, is a beautiful area for trail running. It offers various options for runners of all abilities. The trails in Indian Heaven Wilderness are generally well-maintained and offer stunning views of lakes, meadows, and mountains. However, they can also be rooty and uneven. There are more than 150 lakes in the 20,784-acre Indian Heaven Wilderness.

The Pacific Crest Trail runs over 16 miles through the Indian Heaven Wilderness.

The weather in Indian Heaven Wilderness can vary depending on the time of year. It is typically warm and dry in the summer, but mosquitoes can be a nuisance. Fall is a great time to visit for trail running, as the weather is mild and mosquitoes are less of a problem. Winter brings snow to the higher elevations, making the trails unsuitable for running. Bears, cougars, and rattlesnakes are all in the area.

The trails in Indian Heaven Wilderness range from short out-and-back trails to longer loops. You can easily find a trail that is the perfect distance for your run.


Bear Grass along the rim of one of many Indian Heaven lakes.


Some popular trails for trail running in Indian Heaven Wilderness:

  • Indian Heaven Trail: This is an excellent trail for runners of all abilities. The trail climbs steadily for the first few miles but then levels out and offers beautiful views of meadows and lakes. The total distance of the trail is about 10 miles.
  • Cultus Creek Trail: This is another beautiful option for runners of all abilities. The trail follows Cultus Creek for a few miles and then climbs to a viewpoint with stunning views of Mount Adams. The total distance is about 5 miles.
  • Lemei Trail: This trail is more challenging but rewards runners with stunning views of Lemei Rock and the surrounding wilderness. It is about three miles long and gains about 1,000 feet in elevation.
  • Thomas Lake Trail: This moderate trail leads to a beautiful lake. It is about 4.5 miles long and gains about 1,500 feet in elevation.

Trailheads/Trails that access Indian Heaven Wilderness:

Source: US Forest Service


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Views of Mt. Adams appear on many spots in the Indian Heaven Wilderness.


No matter which trail you choose, you’ll have a great trail running experience in Indian Heaven Wilderness. Just be prepared for the conditions and enjoy the beautiful scenery! Here’s a twenty-mile loop starting from the East Crater Trailhead. This loop enjoys almost everything Indian Heaven offers, including Indian Heaven Lakes. For an extra 1.5 miles, add the out-and-back to Lemei Rock.


Late spring snow melts make early to mid-July the prime time to see wildflowers.


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