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McClellan Meadows to Indian Racetrack Snowshoe

South Cascades

Location

South Cascades -- Mount Adams Area
View map below

Length

15.0 miles, roundtrip

Elevation

Gain: 1250 ft.
Highest Point: 4350 ft.

Rating

4.25 out of 5

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Parking Pass/Entry Fee

Sno-Parks Permit
 
 

If you only have a single day and really want to push yourself, then check out this winter route to Indian Racetrack, in the Indian Heaven Wilderness.

From McClellan sno-park, hike on the 3053 Road toward the McClellan Meadows trail. Trail conditions for the first mile of Road 3053 are groomed, but the rest is typically un-groomed. Once you reach Trail 157, continue southeast. Signage and blue diamonds marking the trail is sparse at best. But the trail follows the route of George McClellan's 1852 railroad survey, which provides a navigable and moderate grade. Popular in the summer months for mountain biking, the trail corridor should be easily discernible as you trudge ever closer to Indian Racetrack.

After three miles on the McClellan Meadows Trail, arrive at 65 Road and head south to Falls Creek Horse Camp. From here, head east on the Racetrack Trail (Trail 171) toward the heart of the wilderness. Past Falls Creek Horse Camp, there is no reassurance marking once you enter Indian Heaven Wilderness.

The trail begins to undulate as it climbs up through silver fir, western white pine, and Engelmann spruce. The trail continues to rise until after 2.1 miles you will finally drop down into a large open meadow. Pause here and reflect upon the echoes of history. Once known as 'Sahalee Tyee', the area is culturally important to many different Native American tribes. Over the past 9,000 years the Yakima, Klickitat, and Umatilla tribes -just to name a few- gathered here for berry picking, hunting, and fishing. Indian Racetrack is named after a long field where horse racing once provided reprieve from the harvest, and likely, much needed entertainment.

If you find yourself wallowing in the splendor of this ancient relic, consider climbing further up the 171 trail to Red Mountain Fire Lookout. Less than a mile to the top, this steep trail will lead you to one of the most coveted views of a snow covered Gifford Pinchot National Forest. A sight few, if any eyes, will gaze upon this winter.

WTA Pro Tip: Stop into Backwoods Brewing in Carson after tackling this trek. You'll have earned it. Also consider booking a night at Carson Hot Springs Golf and Spa Resort. After a long cold hike, take a load off by climbing into your own personal hot tub. With mineral water pumped from an underground stream you will have no cause to move a muscle as you rest your aching bones.

 

McClellan Meadows to Indian Racetrack Snowshoe

Map & Directions

Trailhead
Co-ordinates: 46.0097, -121.9017 Open map in new window

Trailhead

South Cascades -- Mount Adams Area

McClellan Meadows (#157)

Gifford Pinchot National Forest, Cowlitz Valley Ranger District

See weather forecast

Guidebooks & Maps

Green Trails Wind River 397

USFS Indian Heaven

U.S. Department of Agriculture

Forest Service: Mt. Adams Wilderness

Indian Heaven Wilderness

Trapper Creek Wilderness

U.S. Department of Agriculture

Forest Service: Mt. Adams Ranger District

Getting There

From Vancouver, drive 49.5 miles east on Hwy 14. Turn left on the Wind River Highway. Continue on the Wind River Road for 14.3 miles, passing through Carson almost immediately. Turn right onto Meadow Creek Road/NF-30 for 2.1 miles. Continue on to Wind River Road for 10.3 miles. Make a slight right onto NF-3053 and the McClellan Meadows Sno-Park will be on the right.

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

Sno-Parks Permit
 

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McClellan Meadows to Indian Racetrack Snowshoe

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