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Indian Point Loop

Intermediate/Difficult
  5.0 ( 1 ) Favorite

Trail

7.8 mile 12.6 kilometer point to point
68% Runnable
Intermediate/Difficult

Elevation

Ascent: 2,898' 883 m
Descent: -2,897' -883 m
High: 2,933' 894 m
Low: 223' 68 m

Grade

Avg Grade: 14% (8°)
Max Grade: 63% (32°)

Dogs

Unknown
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Trail shared by Steve Heller

Earn the incredible views from Indian Point!

Steve Heller

Features Geological Significance · Views

BPA is performing line and road maintenance around the road crossing with Herman Creek Trail #406. The trail isn't supposed to close for this work, but be aware of any heavy machinery in the area as you pass through.

Overview

Get a workout on Nick Eaton Trail #447 on your way out to the truly inspiring Indian Point rock formation in this lollipop route through the well-developed trail system around Herman Creek. This area was affected by the 2017 Eagle Creek fire, so those interested in ecology will also be able to observe how the forest regenerates, depending on microclimate, elevation, and the severity of the fire damage.

Need to Know

NW Forest Pass or day pass required to park at the Herman Creek Trailhead. There is a restroom at the trailhead. Deer reside in the area and there is ample undergrowth along the trail, so long pants are recommended as a tick deterrent.

Runner Notes

Some areas on the ridge are still stabilizing after the fire. Watch for soft dirt patches, which will easily give way.

Description

Beginning from the Herman Creek trailhead, start on Herman Creek Trail #406 as it gently winds to an intersection with a BPA service road. Head straight across onto the uphill gravel road, looking for trail signs as you go. The #406 should reappear on your left within a few hundred feet.

Continue on #406 up a couple of mild switchbacks until you reach a trail junction. Take the left path that proceeds uphill (this is still #406). At about 1.2 miles into the route, you'll encounter another junction, this time with Gorton Creek Trail #408; take the right path to stay on Herman Creek Trail #406. At 1.5 miles into your run, you'll encounter a third junction, this time with Nick Eaton Trail #447. It is time to bid #406 adieu for now; take the left path to start on Nick Eaton Trail #447.

The Nick Eaton Trail #447 begins a climb into a burned area populated by significant undergrowth and charred snags. The trail becomes a little steeper right away and the trail tread becomes a little harder to follow. Pace yourself appropriately, not only because you are going to be climbing a steep trail for the next 1.5 miles, but also because this reconstructed trail winds to and fro and the tread may not be visible until you are right on top of it. If you are paying attention, you'll have no trouble following the trail.

After a brief introduction, Nick Eaton starts a steep ascent straight up the ridge with sharp switchbacks that gain about 1,700 feet of elevation in 1.5 miles. There are peek-a-boo views as you go, so there is no shame in taking a breather to admire the Gorge through skeletal burned trees. Near the top of the climb, the trees thin out into some small rocky meadows. Once you level out and head back into denser forest, be on the lookout for a trail junction with Ridge Cutoff Trail #437 on your left.

Taking #437, travel the excellent (and flat!) cutoff trail for about 0.5 miles until it descends steeply for a few feet to a T-junction with Gorton Creek Trail #408. Here you have the choice of accessing Indian Point via a scramble trail or skipping the scramble and descending on the #408 by turning left.

If you are interested in the Indian Point scramble trail, turn right onto Gorton Creek Trail #408 and immediately look up and to your right to see a sign posted high on a tree for Indian Point. This will mark the scramble trail, which descends off the ridge to your left. Make your way down Indian Point Trail, watching for root systems and loose rocks. This scramble is quite doable but benefits from a leisurely pace due to the loose footing and steep descent. Moreover, though the scramble trail is mostly unexposed, there are a couple of sharp turns in the trail near exposure where a slip could be quite hazardous.

As you descend and wind to the right, you'll see the Indian Point rock formation below you and to your left. Traverse along the scramble trail until you reach the sharp talus ridge that runs out to the basalt column at the end of the point. There is a flat area amongst the trees right before the talus that makes for a good lunch/snack/water/etc. spot. If you are unafraid of exposure and are comfortable running on talus, you can run out onto the ridgeline for truly outstanding views of the Columbia River, the Gorge area, and Mt. Adams.

The ridge is quite narrow and there is very little space for passing, so it is best to wait for other runners to return from the ridge before running out onto the talus. Some people like to climb the basalt column, but I cannot recommend this; the rock is quote dodgy and falls to either side are extremely exposed. A fall could easily be fatal. Once you've had your fill of the the views, return up the same scramble trail and then turn right onto Gorton Creek Trail #408.

Gorton Creek Trail #408 gently and continuously descends through dense underbrush for about 2.5 miles, meeting up with Herman Creek Trail #406 in a small clearing. Take a right onto #406 and follow it back to the trailhead!

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Dogs Allowed, Flora & Fauna, History & Background

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