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Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail - No. 2000 - Saint Helens

Contact Info
Gifford Pinchot National Forest
2455 Hwy. 141
Trout Lake, WA 98650

Phone:
509-395-3400
Basics
Length:
50.4 miles
Difficulty:
Intermediate
Elevation Range:
100 feet to 6000 feet
Elevation Change:
5900 feet
Season:
May-Late October

Description

Beginning 0.5 mile west of the Bridge of the Gods (which crosses the Columbia River at the town of Cascade Locks), the PCT heads north passing through the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, Department of Natural Resources lands, and the Mt. Adams Ranger District.

From the Bridge of the Gods, the PCT gradually climbs northwest, passing several lakes before it traverses the west side of Table Mountain, offering views of the Gorge. The trail follows the Birkenfeld Ridge toward Three Corner Rock, before intersecting with Three Corner Rock Trail, a DNR trail. (To reach the summit of Three Corner Rock, head up the trail 1.5 miles. From the summit you can attain breathtaking views of Mounts St. Helens, Rainier, Hood, and Adams.)

The PCT descends through second-growth forests through the Rock Creek drainage, crosses several DNR roads, and Rock Creek, before entering the Mt. Adams Ranger District.

Proceeding along fairly flat terrain, the trail passes several DNR roads and trails. It begins climbing, eventually crossing Road 41. Views from this steep climb include Three Corner Rock, the Columbia River Gorge, and Rock Creek. This section of the trail has abundant huckleberries if you time it right.

After crossing Road 41, the trail drops through the Wind River Experimental Forest and crosses Trout Creek with a bridge crossing. The trail crosses Road 43 and then runs parallel with the road for 1 mile through an old-growth forest. The trail skirts what was formerly the Wind River Nursery before intersecting Road 417.

The PCT skirts the east side of Bunker Hill and intersects Bunker Hill Trail #145. The trail climbs to Road 54, crosses Wind River, and Road 30 in quick succession, then crosses Road 6517 and runs parallel with the road in an easterly direction for 2 miles. It crosses Road 65 just south of Panther Creek Campground.

Crossing Panther Creek, the trail gradually climbs through a second-growth forest toward Big Huckleberry Mountain (4,202 feet elevation), and crosses Road 68. The trail begins climbing rapidly, and crosses Grassy Knoll Trail #146. From this point, hikers may take a 0.25-mile climb to the summit of Big Huckleberry Mountain - the site of a former fire lookout. The PCT continues north, skirting Big Lava Bed (a 14,000 acre lava flow). A water trough for stock is located 1.5 miles south of Crest Camp. (Crest Horse Camp is located at the junction of the PCT and Road 60. There is a campsite and outhouse.)

This section of the PCT from DNR Road 2000 to Crest Camp on Road 60 has semi-developed primitive camps along the way. The camps are located at the Rock Creek crossing, Road 41 crossing, Trout Creek crossing, Wind River crossing, High Springs (1 mile north of Big Huckleberry Mountain) and Bill Butte (1.5 miles south of Crest Camp). Campsites include a fire ring, tent pad, log table, and bench.

From Road 60, the PCT generally travels north, passes Sheep Lake, and then crosses the southern boundary of Indian Heaven Wilderness. The trail crosses the center of the wilderness for the next 17 miles, passing numerous lakes and meadows. (Bring water filters or purification tablets.) The PCT has numerous junctions with other trails in the wilderness.

The trail leaves Indian Heaven Wilderness and passes through the Sawtooth Berry Fields. The berry fields were created by fire (possibly an extension of the Yacolt Burn of 1902). These are some of the most productive huckleberry fields in the Northwest. A council in 1932 between the Yakama Indian Nation and the USDA Forest Service resulted in a handshake agreement, designating part of the Sawtooth Berry Fields as an area of exclusive use for local Native American people.

From the berry fields, the PCT heads northeast toward the Mt. Adams Wilderness. After entering the Mt. Adams Wilderness at the 4,400-foot elevation level, the trail climbs through Douglas fir and mountain hemlock forests to Horseshoe Meadow (5,900 feet elevation), where it comes to a junction with Round the Mountain Trail #9.

Heading north from the meadow, the trail skirts the west side of Mt. Adams, offering spectacular views of the White Salmon and Adams Glaciers. From this section of the trail there are incredible views of Mounts St. Helens and Rainier. As if that isn't enough, the trail passes by many lakes and cascading glacial-fed streams and waterfalls. After 14 miles, the trail leaves the Mt. Adams Wilderness, then leaves the Mt. Adams Ranger District at the junction with Road 5603.

Several forest roads intersect the PCT and provide shorter day-hiking or backpacking opportunities. Starting at the south end of the Mt. Adams District, these forest roads are #s 60, 24, 88, 8851, 8810, 23, 2300521, and 5603.

The sections of the PCT through the wilderness areas are heavily used. These areas are in fragile alpine terrain. Footprints in high meadows often remain visible for years. Please stay on the trail. Group size should not exceed 12 (including stock).

Details

Length:
50.4 miles
Difficulty:
Intermediate
Elevation Range:
100 feet to 6000
Elevation Change:
5900
Season:
May-Late October

Map + Directions

Basic Directions

State Road 14, west of the Bridge of the Gods which crosses the Columbia River, Forest Road 5063.

Panther Creek - Trailhead is where Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail No. 2000 crosses Panther Creek FR 65.


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