Bird Mountain is the second highest point in the Indian Heaven Wilderness area
- located more or less centrally between Mt. St. Helens
to the west, Mt. Adams
to the east, and the Columbia River Gorge
to the south. Bird Mountain is worth a visit for its grassy open slopes, spring wildflowers, a bit of fun scrambling on its satellite peaks, and views of four Cascade volcanoes. Bird Mountain likely does not receive very many visitors -- although I was surprised to encounter a couple of folks near Point 5618 along the traverse. An old fire-ring up near the summit also indicated former visitors. I found traces of an old trail along the traverse, but it seems to have almost completely disappeared. As there's no real trail heading for the summit, I'd guess it's only visited by determined hikers.
Bird Mountain can be hiked on its own, or combined with two other high points in the area: Lemei Rock
(5926') to the south and Sawtooth Peak
(5353') to the north for a full day outing.
Coming from the Portland area, take I-84 east to Cascade Locks and cross the Columbia River via the Bridge of the Gods. Across the bridge, turn right on Hwy 14 and follow it east ~6mi to the turn off to Carson (signed) on Hwy 30. From the junction, continue north ~14.5mi turning off onto Wind River Road (signed for Mt. St. Helens) and continue another 16mi to Lone Butte Road. Continue on a good gravel road for ~8mi, again turning right on gravel FR 24 and continue ahead about 4.2mi to the the trailhead at the Cultis Creek campground. (Be sure you're starting at the right trailhead -- the northern trail leaves just outside the campground; the Cultis Creek trail leaves from a parking area inside the campground.)
The Cultis Creek campground trailheads both require a NW Forest Pass to park at. Park 0.25mi away to avoid it.
When To Climb
Bird Mountain is probably best done as a spring/summer/fall climb. It might be fun in the snow, but getting to the trailhead might be very time-consuming in winter as roads into the Indian Heaven area are not plowed.
The Indian Heaven area is renowned for its vast and aggressive mosquito population; there's even a lake named after them in the area. Best to be fully prepared if venturing into this area in June-July timeframe.
Late August or early September can be a fine time to visit this area as the huckleberries are ripe for picking.
Car camping is available at the nearby Cultis Creek
or Smokey Creek
campgrounds. Backcountry camping is also available within the Indian Heaven Wilderness area - although note that many of the lakeside camps are fairly popular on summer weekends. Bring your insect repellent!
NWS Point Forecast - Indian Heaven Region
Gifford Pinchot National Forest Website