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Indian Heaven Wilderness

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Title: Indian Heaven Wilderness  
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Subject: Pacific Crest Trail, List of U.S. Wilderness Areas, Gifford Pinchot National Forest, Indian Heaven
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Indian Heaven Wilderness

Indian Heaven Wilderness
Location Skamania County, Washington, USA
Area 20,960 acres (85 km2)
Established 1984
Governing body United States Forest Service

Indian Heaven Wilderness is a protected area located inside the Gifford Pinchot National Forest of southwestern Washington state. The wilderness consists of some 20,960 acres (85 km2) of broad, forested plateau, with meadows straddling numerous volcanic peaks and at least 150 small lakes, ponds, and marshes.[2] The wilderness also contains the Indian Heaven volcanic field. Originally known to the Indians as "Sahalee Tyee," the area has been and remains culturally important to Native Americans.[1] During the past 9,000 years, the Yakima, Klickitat, Cascades, Wasco, Wishram, and Umatilla tribes gathered in this area for berry picking, fishing, and hunting.[2]


Lemei Rock, the highest peak in the Indian Heaven Wilderness.

The wilderness consists of some 20,960 acres (85 km2) of forested plateau, with meadows and at least 150 small lakes, ponds, and marshes.[2] The wilderness also contains the Indian Heaven volcanic field. Lava once flowed from the numerous volcanic cones that rise above the plateau, consisting mainly of overlapping shield volcanoes, spatter cones, and cinder cones, which averages 4,500 feet (1,400 m) in elevation. The wilderness' highest point is Lemei Rock (5,927 ft), whose crater now contains Lake Wapiki.[3] Some of the most prominent volcanic peaks include Lemei Rock, Bird Mountain, Sawtooth Mountain, Gifford Peak, East Crater, and Red Mountain. Big Lava Bed is the result of the most recent volcanic activity about 8,200 years ago.


Lemei Rock is one of the many shield volcanoes topped by cinder cones and spatter cones that make up the Indian Heaven Volcanic Field. About 60 eruptive centers lie on the 19-mile (30 km) long, N10°E-trending, Indian Heaven fissure zone. The 230 square miles (600 km2) field has a volume of about 20 cubic miles (100 km3) and forms the western part of a 770-square-mile (2,000 km2) Quaternary basalt field in the southern Washington Cascades, including the King Mountain fissure zone along which Mount Adams was built.

Indian Heaven Volcanic Field and Mount Adams Volcanic Vicinity Digital Relief Map showing Lemei Rock and the various other peaks that make up the volcanic field.
Name Elevation Location Last eruption
meters   feet   Coordinates
Big Lava Bed[4] 1,278.6 4,195 ~8150 years ago
Bird Mountain[4] 1,632 5,354 ~8,200 years ago
Crazy Hills[4]      
East Crater[4] 1,614 5,295 ~8,200 years ago
Gifford Peak[4] 1,614 5,295   ~8,200 years ago
Lemei Rock[4] 1,806 5,925 ~8,200 years ago
Lone Butte[4] 1,457 4,780 ~8,200 years ago
Red Mountain[4] 1,513 4,964 ~8,200 years ago
Sawtooth Mountain[4] 1,632 5,354 ~8,200 years ago


Ancient Indian Racetrack at Indian Heaven

Deer and elk reside in the wilderness area until winter snows drive them lower, along with black bears attracted to the abundant ripening of fall huckleberries.[3] Numerous bird species reside in the wilderness along with various small forest animals, such as chipmunks.

Plant Life

The forest conifers consist mainly of Subalpine Fir and Douglas Fir. The area (including the Sawtooth Berry Fields) is known for its abundant huckleberries in mid-August to Early September. They grow abundantly in the old, fire-scarred forest meadows burned in the past by Natives to stimulate more huckleberry production.


One of the Race Track Lakes near the Indian Racetrack.

The Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail passes north/south through the wilderness, which is known for its many lakes and spectacular views of four nearby volcanoes: Mount Adams, Mount Hood, Mount St. Helens, and Mount Rainier. It is also known to hikers for an intense population of mosquitoes throughout the summer. Other major trails in the area are Indian Heaven Trail and the Cultus Creek Trail, which climbs up the east side of Bird Mountain; and Lemei Trail which traverses up the east side of Lemei Rock and passes by Lake Wapiki. In late fall, the huckleberry bushes provide excellent berries as well as intense orange color in some years.


  1. ^ "US Forest Service: Gifford Pinchot National Forest: Indian Heaven Wilderness". Retrieved 2008-11-08. 
  2. ^ a b " Indian Heaven Wilderness". Retrieved 2008-11-08. 
  3. ^ a b "GORP: Indian Heaven Wilderness". Retrieved 2008-11-08. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i Wood, Charles A.; Jűrgen Kienle (1993). Volcanoes of North America. Cambridge University Press. pp. 166–167. ISBN . 

See also

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