11.4 Miles Moderate
This is one of the many loop options in the Indian Heaven Wilderness, which is a high subalpine plateau famous for its more than 100 lakes and ponds, and countless meadows. Amid these lakes and meadows are several prolific volcanic peaks–such as Lemei Rock, East Crater, Sawtooth Mountain, Gifford Peak, and Bird Mountain.
The area is also notorious for its early summer mosquito population. The best time to hike here is arguably late summer or fall. During fall, the huckleberry bushes put on a fiery display of yellow, red, and orange.
This lollipop loop goes past five named lakes: Junction Lake, Bear Lake, Deer Lake, Clear Lake, and Lemei Lake. Add the short spur hike to Cultus Lake and Deep Lake, to bring the total to 11.4 miles and a total of seven lakes.
Start out hiking on the East Crater Trail from the East Crater Trailhead, then hike up to Junction Lake. Turn right onto the Pacific Crest Trail, pass the junction for the Lemei Lake Trail (the return trail for the loop), and continue on to Bear Lake and Deer Lake. Take spur trails down to the lakeside, to get a better view.
Past Deer Lake and reach a junction with the Indian Heaven Trail. Turn right onto the Indian Heaven Trail, head east-ward, passing by Clear Lake, to the junction with the Lemei Lake Trail.
To do the full 11.4 miles, take a side trip to Cultus Lake and Deep Lake. To do this, at the Lemei Lake-Indian Heaven Trail junction, continue on the Indian Heaven Trail to the Deep Lake Trail (#33A) junction. Turn right onto the Deep Lake Trail, passing by Cultus Lake, and end at Deep Lake. Across Deep Lake, Mount Adams rears its massive head above the trees.
Head back the way you came, back down the Deep Lake Trail, left on the Indian Heaven Trail, to the junction with the Lemei Lake Trail you passed by earlier. Turn left (south) onto the Lemei Lake Trail, and pass by some spectacular meadows; and, in season, brilliant displays of huckleberry fall color. Pass by shallow Lemei Lake and it's deeply eroded outlet stream (the source of Cultus Creek), and continue down the trail back to Junction Lake–that you passed by early on in the hike. Turn left onto the Pacific Crest Trail; then, shortly after that, turn left onto the East Crater Trail, leading back to the trailhead from where you started.
If you want to do an even longer side trip, you can take the Lemei Trail to the base of Lemei Rock.