Indian Racetrack Trail

Trout Lake, Washington

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The Indian Heaven Wilderness may be the most underrated wilderness area in Washington. This often-forgotten gem is one of the most beautiful places in the Cascades, and it has been a popular gathering place for wilderness-loving humans for centuries. Part of the reason for that, of course, is the abundance of berries along the trail—starting with a vast field on the south flank of Red Mountain, just below the lookout tower—which gives a strong hint as to how the wilderness area earned its name. For centuries, local native tribes would gather here each summer to partake of the lands’ bounty throughout what is now Indian Heaven Wilderness. They would harvest roots from the broad meadows that cover the areas, hunt the resident deer and elk, fish in the hundreds of small lakes that dot the landscape, and pick bushels of berries. Heaven, indeed. The local tribes gathered in such numbers that after harvesting food all day, the young men needed some way to challenge each other. So they raced. They raced so frequently and with such vigor that the track their thundering horses drummed into the dirt still exists today. This is the Indian Racetrack.
Day Hiking: South Cascades

DESCRIPTION FROM:

Day Hiking: South Cascades

by Dan A. Nelson (The Mountaineers Books)

The Indian Heaven Wilderness may be the most underrated wilderness area in Washington. This often-forgotten gem is one of the most beautiful places in the Cascades, and it has been a popular gathering place for wilderness-loving humans for centuries. Part of the reason for that, of course, is the abundance of berries along the trail—starting with a vast field on the south flank of Red Mountain, just below the lookout tower—which gives a strong hint as to how the wilderness area earned its name.

For centuries, local native tribes would gather here each summer to partake of the lands’ bounty throughout what is now Indian Heaven Wilderness. They would harvest roots from the broad meadows that cover the areas, hunt the resident deer and elk, fish in the hundreds of small lakes that dot the landscape, and pick bushels of berries. Heaven, indeed. The local tribes gathered in such numbers that after harvesting food all day, the young men needed some way to challenge each other. So they raced. They raced so frequently and with such vigor that the track their thundering horses drummed into the dirt still exists today. This is the Indian Racetrack.

© 2007 Dan A. Nelson /The Mountaineers Books. All Rights Reserved.

Activity Type: Hiking
Nearby City: Trout Lake
Distance: 5
Elevation Gain: 700 feet
Trail Type: Out-and-back
Skill Level: Moderate
Season: Late May-November
Accessibility: Dog-friendly
Local Contacts: USFS Mount Adams Ranger District
Local Maps: Green Trails No. 365 Mount Lone Butte, No. 397 Wind River
Driving Directions: Directions to Indian Racetrack Trail

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Apr 2018