The first one mile is easy walking on a moderate grade to Nickel Creek. Good campsites along the stream and on the far bank. In another .5 mile is a small creek, the last water before Indian Bar. From Nickel Creek the trail climbs steadily to the Cowlitz Divide, reaching the crest approximately 3 miles from the road. Here are junctions with the abandoned Backbone Ridge Trail and the trail from Ohanapecosh.
The next 4.5 miles are along the crest of the Cowlitz Divide, going up and over some bumps and contouring around others. At times the way is very steep. First, there are glimpses of the mountain through trees. Then the trail climbs higher, the meadows grow larger, and finally, atop a 5914' knoll, the mountain comes completely and grandly into the open. To the southeast is Bald Knob. Beyond is Shriner Peak. From the knoll, the trail drops 800' to 5120' Indian Bar.
The Ohanapecosh River divides the large green meadow. The shelter cabin is on the west side of the river. At the valley head are small remnants of the Ohanapecosh Glacier. In early summer numerous waterfalls splash down the lava cliffs. Just 100' below the shelter is Wauhaukaupauken Falls, a name almost larger than the falls.
Don't forget the considerable elevation gain on the return hike. If transportation can be arranged, Indian Bar can be combined with hiking the Summerland Trail for a beautiful one-way trip of 17 miles.