The trail begins where the Herman Creek Trail #406
passes primitive Herman Camp and ends at a junction with the Rainy Wahtum Trail #409 and Herman Creek Cutoff Trail #410
on the ridge above Rainy Lake.
To reach the #408, take the Herman Creek Trail #406
up to Herman Camp. Both the Gorge Trail #400 and the Gorton Creek Trail #408 start on the north side of Herman Camp, so be careful that you are on the right trail when you leave the camp (the #400 starts out level, while the #408 trends uphill).
From Herman Camp, the #408 heads upward through two switchbacks to a junction with the Ridge Cutoff Trail #437
about 2.4 miles from the #406. This cutoff can be used to make a short but steep loop involving the Nick Eaton Trail #447
. Shortly past this junction is an unsigned use trail leading out to Indian Point—a popular vantage point overlooking the Columbia River. Be careful here
, as the rocks on the point can be loose and slippery, and you are on the edge of a tall cliff.
At 3.4 miles, the trail crosses Grays Creek and passes Deadwood Camp (room for 3-4 tents), then continues up a steeper climb for 2.6 miles to the junction with Nick Eaton Trail #447
. After climbing south for 0.6 miles, past primitive Ridge Camp (limited water), the #408 reaches a junction with Plateau Cutoff Trail #412
. After a brief climb, the #408 almost levels out as it continues across the plateau, over Green Point Mountain, and down to its end at Rainy Wahtum Trail #409 and the Herman Creek Cutoff Trail #410
. To reach Rainy Lake from here, turn left (north) onto #409 and descend 1.2 miles to the lake.
On a clear day, the views of Mount Hood, Rainier, Adams, Defiance, and St. Helens are unparalleled, as is the view down to North Lake.