Falls Creek Horse Camp is your gateway to the delights of riding in and around the Indian Heaven Wilderness. a little north of Carson, WA. For centuries, this area was a gathering place for native American tribes. Today, it offers horse-friendly trails that take you through lush forest, past sparkling lakes, and beside verdant meadows filled with huckleberries.
When the tribes gathered each year to pick berries, dig roots, hunt, fish, and socialize, the young men would amuse themselves in the evenings by racing their ponies in the meadows. As recently as the late 1980s you could see the track carved into what’s now called Indian Racetrack Meadows by the horses’ flying hooves. Today, the encroaching forest has largely obscured the racetrack, but the sense of history in this beautiful spot persists.
You can ride to the easy-to-reach lookout site at the top of 4,900-foot Red Mountain, where 360-degree panoramic views await you.
You can make a loop over the flank of Berry Mountain, take in the views of Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Adams, and Mt. Hood, then continue past beautiful Blue Lake and on through a series of meadows dotted with tiny lakes and streams.
You can follow the Falls Creek Trail, a non-Wilderness trail that roughly parallels Falls Creek (though almost never within sight of it). It takes you to interesting lava caves, formed when the roofs of lava tubes collapsed. If you ride far enough, you’ll get a filtered view of 200-foot Falls Creek Falls. This trail is a popular downhill route for mountain bike riders, so keep a sharp eye out.
You can also ride a fun loop to McClellan Meadows, a vast wet prairie in a sea of Douglas-firs.
Fall is the best time to ride in the Indian Heaven Wilderness. Its meadows and lakes are mosquito nurseries in early summer, but by mid-August the pesky bugs are gone. The brilliant fall color of the huckleberries in the meadows contrasts nicely with the deep green of the Douglas-firs. And the warm weather often lasts into mid-October. So start making plans now for next year. The Indian Heaven Wilderness is heaven, indeed!
Falls Creek Horse Camp has four sites with highline posts and cables, fire pits, and picnic tables. Stock water is available from Falls Creek, but it’s a rather long way from some of the campsites we suggest bringing your stock water. The campground road has a tight turning radius that is not suitable for larger rigs. Don’t let that deter you, though. The campground road has relatively large aprons at the entrance, so you can fairly easily back into the campground and then into sites 1, 2, or 4.
The trails around Falls Creek Horse Camp are covered in more detail in Riding Southwest Washington Horse Trails, by Kim McCarrel, available at www.NWHorseTrails.com.