Follow the Wood Lake Trail down hill for about 0.7 mile and 250 feet descent to reach lovely, serene Wood Lake. The route passes an unnamed tarn below Bird Mountain and traverses huckleberry parklands before the final, steep descent to the shore of Wood Lake at 4,860 feet. A boot path continues along the south side of the lake to campsites.
There are two approaches to access the Wood Lake Trail. The approach you choose will alter the mileage and elevation gain listed for this trail.
PCT Approach: (No Parking Pass required). Begin at the Sawtooth Trailhead at 4,200 feet along Highway 24. Hike south from Highway 24 on the PCT. At 1.3 miles, pass the Indian Heaven Wilderness boundary. Continue another 0.1 mile to the junction with Sawtooth Mountain Trail #107 North. This former route of the PCT climbs high over the west side of Sawtooth Mountain.
Continuing on the PCT, the hike contours around Sawtooth Mountain and meets the junction with Sawtooth Mountain Trail #107 South at 3 miles. Hike another 1.3 miles, climbing a couple of switchbacks up the north ridge of Bird Mountain, to the junction with Wood Lake Trail #185.
Cultus Creek Approach: (Northwest Forest Pass required). Starting at the north end of the Cultus Creek Campground at 4,000 feet, take Cultus Creek Trail #108. The late Mel Hansen, in his 1977 guidebook “Indian Heaven Backcountry,” described the Cultus Creek Trail as “not for everyone.” He reported that it has been called “The Cardiac Arrest Trail” because a segment of it climbs 1,249 feet in just over a mile. The trail ascends up Bird Mountain to a saddle at 5,237 feet in 1.4 miles and then descends 377 feet in 0.1 mile down to meet the PCT at a 4-way junction with the Wood Lake Trail #185.
Amenities: Vault toilets are available at Cultus Creek Campground. There are no restrooms at the Sawtooth Trailhead for the PCT approach.