It has been more than ten years since I hiked to Indian Racetrack in the Indian Heaven Wilderness doing “research” for Hiking Washington’s History. The racetrack hasn’t changed, but the approach has. The last time I was there, riders and hikers appeared from the opposite side of the meadow, and now I know how. They came up Trail 171 from FS Road 65 on the west side of the wilderness.
I had driven up Road 6048 from the southeast to the trailhead near the Red Mountain lookout. That road is now gated due to frequent vandalism of the lookout. This is the third structure dating from the original in 1910.
My hardy Tuesday Trekkers group came up Trail 171 on a beautiful blue sky day in late August after a few days of haze. After reaching the racetrack, which is still a straight line embedded in a meadow, we sat on a skinny log for lunch. The meadow is shrinking as trees encroach, and the old sign proclaiming Klama’t for the racetrack has disappeared, but the feel of a gathering spot is the same. On the opposite side of the meadow, we continued up Trail 171, desserting on abundant huckleberries.
Cool breezes mitigated the sun exposure on a mostly bare knoll dotted with balsamroot. Where the trail reaches Road 6048, we walked up to the lookout and luxuriated in glorious views of Mt. Adams, Mt. Rainier, Mt. St. Helens, and Mt. Hood. After three days of hiking around Mt. Adams for our annual retreat, we were sure of our identifications.
It’s a wonderful hike, after mosquito season. For directions, consult Tami Asars’ Mount Adams and Goat Rocks; for history read the Kalam’t chapter in Hiking Washington’s History.