Trail #183 South Climb


General trail map of the Mt Adams Wilderness area.

Vicinity trail map of the Mt Adams Wilderness including: Round the Mountain #9, Looking Glass Lake #9A, High Camp #10, Stagman Ridge #12, Muddy Meadows #13, Shorthorn #16, Divide Camp #112, Killen Creek Trail #113, High Line trail #114, and South Climb #183.

Area Status: Open
This area is Open

This heavily used trail provides access to the South Climb route up to Mt. Adams summit within Mt. Adams Wilderness.

Initially the trail follows an old road bed through forest and meadows. Near timberline it intersects with Round the Mountain Trail #9 which heads north to meet the Pacific Crest Trail. The trail continues to climb then crosses the Morrison Creek drainage through scree. This section of the trail is marked by tall poles mounted in rock carins. It continues goes up the ridge running along Cresent Glacier and follows this ridge to the snow field where the marked trail ends at about 3.4 miles. 

From this point mountain climbers continue up the snow field to lunch counter, Pikers Peak and the summit. This is not a technically challenging climb, but it takes climbers at least 6 to 8 hours to ascend the nearly 6,700 vertical feet across snow and rock to reach the 12,276 summit of Mt. Adams. The entire trip is about 12 miles round-trip. Be prepared and know your limits.

On the trail there are views of the surrounding area including Mt. Hood and Mt. St. Helens. Wildflowers bloom in the meadows and vegetated areas above tree line in season. 

At a Glance

Current Conditions: 11/29/2016: Open. Expect winter conditions on the climbing route. Road to trailhead is snow covered in Winter thru late May.
Permit Info: For Wilderness travel at low elevation or during the climbing off-season, Wilderness Permits are required. Wilderness permits are free and self-issued at trailheads.
Usage: Heavy
Restrictions: Wilderness Regulations apply 
Closest Towns: Trout Lake, WA
Water: Treat all non potable water before consuming.
Restroom: Vault Toilet (1) at South Climb Trailhead
  • A valid Recreation Pass is required at South Climb Trailhead/Cold Springs. A valid Cascades Volcano Pass stub may be used instead between May 1 and Sept. 30. Cascades Volcano Passes are not available on-site.  
  • Purchase of a Cascades Volcano Pass is required if you are climbing above 7,000 feet elevation in Mt. Adams Wilderness, between May 1 and September 30.
Operated By: Forest Service
Information Center: Mt. Adams Ranger District

General Information


South Climb Trailhead & Cold Springs Camp

From Trout Lake, Washington take Mt Adams Road north to the V intersection with Forest Road 23. At this intersection stay to the right and continue about one mile to the left turn on to Forest Road 80, signed South Climb. Stay on Forest Road 80 to where it ends at the intersection with Forest Road 8040 and 8031. Make a right turn on to Forest Road 8040 and continue driving north past Morrison Creek Campground to the trailhead located in the old Cold Springs Camp area.

Recreation Map

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Mountain Climbing

Recreation areas with activity Mountain Climbing:

From the trailhead, the trail follows an old road for 2 miles to the timberline, where it enters the wilderness, crosses Round the Mountain Trail, and continues toward the summit of Mt. Adams (approximately 5.7 miles from Cold Springs). The trail is maintained to the 8,000-foot level on Crescent Ridge, then an unmaintained trail continues to Lunch Counter. A footpath accesses the false summit, Pikers Peak (11,600 feet elevation). The climb continues northwest to the summit. Construction of a fire lookout on the summit of Mt. Adams began in 1918. It took three summers to haul materials to the summit and construct the building. The lookout was staffed for two seasons before it was abandoned. Arthur Jones, the lookout guard, inscribed the rocks at Pikers Peak. In the 1930s, after the lookout was no longer used for fire detection, the lookout was used as the base of a sulfur mining operation on the summit. Sulfur was mined and hauled down the mountain on pack mules. Eventually, the sulfur market nose-dived and the cost of hauling the sulfur down the mountain became cost prohibitive. The mining operation was abandoned. Today the lookout is covered by glacial snow and ice. Climbers can see parts of the building at various times. Features: Historic wagon road, used in the 1930's for mining sulfur on the Summit of Mt. Adams, mountain views, Crescent Glacier, and an old lookout.


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Horse Riding & Camping

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Nature Viewing

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Areas & Activities


  Area/Length : 
Marked trail 3.4 miles; 6 miles to the summit

  Elevation : 
5600' - 12276'