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Indian Bar

Difficulty: strenuous

14 miles

Elevation gain: 4800'

Max elevation: 5900'

Camps: Nickel Creek, Indian Bar

First hiked by me: 2019

The backcountry campsites at spectacular Indian Bar are some of the most desired, and correspondingly hard to score permits for, of any along the Wonderland Trail. This special place is also accessible as a long day hike from Box Canyon, so the distance shown here is roundtrip.

There are three parts to this trail: a steep climb through forest, a slightly less steep continuing climb up the ridge of Cowlitz Divide with increasingly stunning views in all directions, and then a descent with maximally stunning views into the basin of Indian Bar.

The bizarre thing about this trail is that as you drop down to Indian Bar you will lose sight of Rainier's summit, but you won't care at all because the local views are better than that, if you can imagine such a thing. There's the Ohanapecosh River, and waterfalls descending cliffs all around, and the bridge over Wauhaukaupauken Falls, and... I lack the words. Just go there and experience it for yourself.

Wauhaukaupauken means 'spouting water' in the Sahaptin language of the Taidnapam.

Possibly the best views of all are from the backcountry toilet, which is next to camp site #4. I recommend trying this out even if you don't particularly have to go. Best view I ever had while pooping! Sadly I have no photos, because who takes a camera while going to the bathroom?

There are no water sources along the Cowlitz Divide, so make sure to carry plenty, especially if you're planning on turning around at the top of Cowlitz Divide and skipping the final descent to Indian Bar itself.

Ascending the Cowlitz Divide

The scent of lupin was almost overwhelming

Mount Adams, from high on the Cowlitz Divide

Mount Adams

Descending towards Indian Bar

Indian Bar

Bridge over Wauhaukaupauken Falls