OverviewThis route is just a hike, including some off trail bushwhacking, but it takes you into some beautiful areas with multiple small lakes to see, green meadows, the surrounding Indian Heaven Wilderness and 4 Cascade stratovolcanoes. It is fairly short, about 3.7 miles one way with 1300 feet of elevation gain, most of it in the last .8 miles up the ridge to the summit once you leave the trail. Mosquitos are lethal in July and sometimes into August. The huckleberries are abundant in August/September. Lots of lakes to camp near if you want although this one can be done in about 2 hours.
Getting ThereSee the Getting There section of the main page for directions to the trailhead.
Route DescriptionFrom the trailhead, hike about .7 miles to a point just after Thomas Lake (on the south) and Dee and Heather Lakes on (on the north) where there is a small path heading left. Ignore that (it heads down to Eunice Lake) and keep heading straight where you will do some mild switchbacks up. In .5 miles you will come to a pond on the left (look for a trail heading over a small ridge to the right, that goes to Brader Lake-you won't be going there but it's neat to see if you want). After this you will head into some meadows in and out of forests for another .9 miles. At that point, you come to a 4-way junction of trails. Turn right and go .8 miles through meadows, lakes and ponds to a "T" junction with this sign. The junction looks like this:
Look to your right at this junction and see the forested ridge there. You will want to cross the little stream on the right side of the trail and head up this ridge.
Go .8 miles up this ridge (it looks like this most of the way).
You'll break out of the ridge slightly left near the top with this view.
From here, just weave in and out of open spots to the summit.
To descend the route, just reverse it. Or, if you are continuing on to Berry Mountain to the south, you can bushwhack down the south ridge. It's a bit thicker in vegetation and you will want to angle slightly left after about a half mile or so to eventually intersect with the PCT which you will catch on to Berry Mountain by heading south). You can also do the south ridge down to the PCT and take a left (north) to hike past Blue Lake and Lake Sahalee Tyee, both great places to hang out. Here is the view of Gifford Peak from Blue Lake:
It's only about a half mile to 3/4 mile back to the place you left the trail from where you would likely catch the PCT off the south ridge. Even if you missed the PCT and headed due south, the ridge narrows to a small ridge between the two mountains and you would be thrown on the PCT anyway.