Mt. Adams Wilderness

  “Wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirit” 
                                                                                                      -Edward Abbey

 

Mt. Adams WildernessAlong the west slope of Mt. Adams lies the 46,353-acre Mt. Adams Wilderness. The 12,326-foot high Mt. Adams is the second highest peak in the Northwest after Mt. Rainier. Mt. Adams Wilderness is bounded on the east by the Yakima Indian Reservation. Wilderness trails offer the hiker spectacular views of Mt.Adams and its glaciers, tumbling streams, open alpine forests and wildflowers scattered among lava flows and rimrocks. Since the eruption of Mount St. Helens, Mt. Adams has become a popular attraction for mountain climbers.

Here you'll find a unique blend of dry eastside and moist west side weather conditions which allow diverse types of vegetation to flourish. The area has a complex geologic history that continues even today.

You can find active glaciers methodically carving away the mountain, and the dramatic trace of avalanches that substantially altered the landscape. Even the volcanic activity in the area is fairly recent: some occurred a mere 3,500 years ago-bare moments on the scale of geologic time.

Taken all together, these qualities provide the visitor opportunities for a rich and varied experience. We hope you enjoy your visit. Thanks for your help in preserving the unique character of the Mount Adams Wilderness.

Climbers Guide
Creation of Mt Adams
Featured Trails

Climber's Guide

Many routes exist up Mount Adams with the South Climb route the most popular. While these routes provide a wide range of difficulty, all mountain climbing, whether a "walk up" or "technical climb", is a potentially dangerous activity.

All climbers need to be prepared to deal with a wide variety of weather, snow, and rock conditions. Detailed information on climbing routes is available from a number of climbing guidebooks. Consult these as you plan your trips. In addition to the ten essentials for outdoor recreation (map and compass, whistle, flashlight, extra food and water, warm clothing, a first-aid kit, sun glasses and sunscreen, waterproof matches, a candle or fire starter, and a pocket knife), equipment should include sturdy hiking boots, ice ax, crampons, and ropes when travelling on glaciers. For more information, see  Mt. Adams Climbing Information.

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The Creation of Mount Adams

The mountain as we see it today is the result of volcanic activity and the effects of glaciers on those volcanic deposits. The events listed below are among the most dramatic (but certainly not the only!) events responsible for the shape of Mount Adams as we know it today.

Among all the volcanic peaks in the Pacific Northwest, Mount Adams has a rich and varied history. Adams lacks the symmetry which often characterizes volcanic cones. Instead, it is a long ridge composed of a complex of several cones that grew from volcanic flows occurring over successive ages.

  • 450,000 years ago; oldest eruptions associated with mount Adams.
  • 25,000 to 12,000 years ago; the period of most recent cone-building. The entire mountain above timberline was constructed in a series of eruptions issuing at the true summit, south summit, and Suksdorf Ridge.
  • 21,000 to 12,000 years ago: the last major glacial expansion when ice covered virtually the entire Wilderness. Tongues of glacial ice extended well down many of the surrounding valleys. The glaciers smoothed and streamlined formerly rough lava surfaces. These surfaces are now covered by deep glacial deposits or more recent lava flows. The road to Morrison Creek and Cold Springs ascends one of these glacier-formed ridges (also called moraines).
  • 5,100 years ago: the Pinnacle was formed by a great avalanche. Sulfur gasses (mostly hydrogen sulfide) combining with meltwater from the ice cap created sulfuric acid. This acidic meltwater flowing from the summit, severely weakened the summit rocks resulting in a dramatic avalanche. Debris from this avalanche flowed down the White Salmon River to the Trout Lake Valley. The many large yellow-brown rubble boulders around the valley are conspicuous reminders of this great avalanche.
  • 3,500 to 6,000 years ago: the Muddy Fork and Aiken Lava Flows moved down the flanks of Mount Adams, the latest-but probably not the last-volcanic activity of Mount Adams.
  • Twentieth century: in 1983 and 1921 large avalanches broke off the Avalanche and White Salmon Headwall-the same headwall created by the great avalanche 5,100 years ago.
  • The 1921 avalanche fell nearly one mile, covering almost 6,000 acres with debris. Other avalanche deposits are prominent at Devils Garden, Avalanche Valley, and along the Big Muddy below the Klickitat Glacier.

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Featured Trails of Mt. Adams Wilderness

AROUND-THE-MOUNTAIN #9

  • Miles: 8.3
  • Amount of Use: Heavy
  • Access: Road 23 and Trails #2000, 183, 11, and 16
  • Description: Located in the northeastern portion of the Ranger District, Trail #9 begins on Trail #2000 going southeast toward the Yakama Indian Reservation. This trail is very scenic with rolling grades around the base of Mt. Adams. The adjacent slopes are abundant with wildflowers and small subalpine fir. Eight miles of Trail #9 exist on National Forest land before it enters the Yakama Indian Reservation. Recreation permits are required in the Reservation area and are available for a small fee from administrative personnel in the area of Bird Creek Meadows. This trail does not continue around the mountain as the name depicts. Several miles of rugged cross-country travel are necessary to complete a trek around the mountain.
  • Trail Park Pass: No
  • Hiker: MORE DIFFICULT
  • Horse: MOST DIFFICULT

CROFTON BUTTE #73

  • Miles: 2.7
  • Amount of Use: Medium
  • Access: Roads 8031050 and 8040
  • Description: Trail #73 is located in the northwest portion of the Ranger District. The trail contours the extreme lower slopes of Mt. Adams. The majority of the trail is through timber. There is one large opening on Crofton Butte, providing a scenic view of the surrounding area. The trail terminates on Road 8040 at Morrison Creek Horse Camp
  • Trail Park Pass: No
  • Hiker: MORE DIFFICULT
  • Horse: MORE DIFFICULT

DIVIDE CAMP #112

  • Miles: 2.8
  • Amount of Use: Heavy
  • Access: Road 2329000 and Trail #2000
  • Description: Trail #112 is located on the northwest side of the Mt. Adams Wilderness and begins on the east side of Road 2329. The trail leaves Road 2329 and travels in a southeasterly direction. About 0.2 mile from Road 2329, the trail crosses the Mt. Adams Wilderness boundary. The trail continues through timber and open meadows. About 2 miles from Road 2329, a side trail leads off for 1/4 mile southwest to Divide Camp, where there is normally water. The trail terminates on Trail #2000.
  • Trail Park Pass: Yes, at Divide
  • Hiker: MORE DIFFICULT
  • Horse: MORE DIFFICULT

     

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HIGH CAMP #10

  • Miles: 0.7
  • Amount of Use: Heavy
  • Access: Trail #113 or #2000
  • Description: High Camp Trail is located in the northern part of the Mt. Adams Wilderness, directly across from Trail #113 and #2000 junction. It is used primarily as access to climb the North Cleaver Route on Mt. Adams. The trail terminates in a high alpine meadow.
  • Trail Park Pass: No
  • Hiker: MOST DIFFICULT
  • Horse: MOST DIFFICULT

HIGH LINE TRAIL #114

  • Miles: 5.3
  • Amount of Use: Medium
  • Access: Road 2329 via Muddy Meadows, Trail #13 or Killen Creek Trail #113, and Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail #2000
  • Description: Trail #114 is located on the north side of the Mt. Adams Wilderness. The trail begins on the east side of the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail #2000 just north of Killen Creek. It lies in a west to east direction around the north side of Mt. Adams and gains in elevation from 6,000 feet to over 7,000 feet. There are many spectacular views of Lyman and Lava Glaciers as well as panoramic views of Goat Rocks and Mt. Rainier. The trail terminates at the Yakama Indian Reservation boundary.
  • Trail Park Pass: No
  • Hiker: MOST DIFFICULT
  • Horse: MOST DIFFICULT

KILLEN CREEK TRAIL #113

  • Miles: 3.1
  • Amount of Use: Heavy
  • Access: Road 2329000
  • Description: Trail #113 is located on the northwest side of the Mt. Adams Wilderness and begins on the south side of Road 2329. The trail leaves Road 2329 ascending through timber and open meadows in a southeasterly direction toward Mt. Adams Wilderness boundary. An old cabin site is visible about 1-1/2 miles from Road 2329. The trail terminates at its intersection with the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail #2000.
  • Trail Park Pass: Yes, at Killen Creek
  • Hiker: MORE DIFFICULT
  • Horse: MORE DIFFICULT

LOOKING GLASS LAKE #9A

  • Miles: 0.9
  • Amount of Use: Heavy
  • Access: Road 23, Trails #2000, 9, and 12.
  • Description: Located in the northeast portion of the Ranger District, Trail #9A leaves Trail #9 descending south through rocky washes, rolling grades, and sparsely timbered areas to a small shallow lake in an alpine setting.
  • Trail Park Pass: No
  • Hiker: MORE DIFFICULT
  • Horse: MORE DIFFICULT

MUDDY MEADOWS #13

  • Miles: 4
  • Amount of Use: Heavy (Heavy use by horses)
  • Access: Road 2329087
  • Description: Located in the extreme north end of the Ranger District, Trail #13 begins at the end of Road 2329087. It proceeds east through meadows and intersects #2000 at 2.7 miles, then continues on and ends at Trail #114.
  • Trail Park Pass: Yes, at Muddy Meadow
  • Hiker: MORE DIFFICULT
  • Horse: MORE DIFFICULT

PACIFIC CREST NATIONAL SCENIC TRAIL #2000

  • Miles: 50.4
  • Access: State Road 14, west of the Bridge of the Gods which crosses the Columbia River, Forest Road 60.
  • Description: The Pacific Crest Trail travels though the Mt. Adams Wilderness, as well as Indian Heaven Wilderness and non-wilderness terrain. It has subalpine vegetation, fragrant meadows of wildflowers, interesting rock formations, glacial streams, scenic vistas of the Cascades as well as timber.
  • Trail Park Pass: Yes
  • Hiker: MORE DIFFICULT
  • Horse: MORE DIFFICULT

RILEY CAMP #64

  • Miles: 3.5
  • Amount of Use: Light
  • Access: Via Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail #2000
  • Description: Trail #64 is located on the west side of the Mt. Adams Wilderness and access is by the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail #2000. The trail runs in a westerly direction from the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail and ends near the Wilderness boundary.
  • Trail Park Pass: No
  • Hiker: MORE DIFFICULT
  • Horse: MORE DIFFICULT

SALT CREEK #75

  • Miles: 3
  • Amount of Use: Light
  • Access: Road 8031060
  • Description: Trail #75 is located on the south side of Mt. Adams. The trail begins on Road 8031060. Within 500 feet it enters the Mt. Adams Wilderness, traveling through large fairly open timber. After a short walk, one might expect to see elk grazing, water plants in the beaver ponds, or further along, start to discover the true wilderness character of the Salt Creek drainage. The trail is maintained for 3.0 miles and stops near the confluence of Cascade and Salt Creeks
  • Trail Park Pass: No
  • Hiker: MORE DIFFICULT
  • Horse: MORE DIFFICULT

SHORTHORN #16

  • Miles: 2.8
  • Amount of Use: Medium
  • Access: Road 8040
  • Description: Located in the east portion of the Ranger District on the southwest slopes of Mt. Adams, Trail #16 begins in Morrison Creek Campground. It climbs north through sparse pine stands and rocky slopes. The trail crosses Shorthorn Creek before it intersects Trail #9.
  • Trail Park Pass: No
  • Hiker: MOST DIFFICULT
  • Horse: MOST DIFFICULT

SOUTH CLIMB #183

  • Miles: 3.4
  • Amount of Use: X Heavy, especially weekends
  • Access: Road 8040500
  • Description: Trail #183 is located on the south side of Mt. Adams. The trailhead is at Cold Springs Campground. The trail follows what used to be Road N81 from Cold Springs to timberline (this segment was closed to vehicle traffic in 1976) where it crosses Around-the-Mountain Trail #9 and continues more or less due north toward the summit of Mt. Adams, approximately 5.7 miles from Cold Springs. The trail is maintained to the 8,000 foot level on the Crescent Ridge, but a path of sorts does continue on to Lunch Counter.
  • Trail Park Pass: Yes, at South Climb
  • Hiker: MOST DIFFICULT
  • Horse: MOST DIFFICULT

STAGMAN RIDGE #12

  • Miles: 4.1
  • Amount of Use: Medium
  • Access: Roads 23, 8031, 8031070 and 8031120
  • Description: Located in the northeast portion of the Ranger District, Trail #12 leaves Road 120 from a clearcut area. It climbs northeast through heavy timber stands and rocky slopes. Trail attains and follows the ridgetop before termination on Trail #2000.
  • Trail Park Pass: Yes, at Stagman Ridge
  • Hiker: MOST DIFFICULT
  • Horse: MOST DIFFICULT

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