Trail #183 South Climb

Area Status: Open
Mt. Adams Wilderness

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

Initially the trail follows an old road bed through a burn scar created by the 2012 Cascade Creek Fire. As the trail nears timberline it moves into sub-alpine forest and meadows where it intersects Round the Mountain Trail #9, which heads northwest to meet the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail #2000 Trail. South Climb Trail #183 continues to climb before veering west to cross the Morrison Creek drainage and surmount Crescent Ridge. This section of the trail until its end about 1 mile above is marked by tall poles mounted in rock cairns. From Crescent Ridge, it continues north and up along the rocky ridge of krumholtz trees running adjacent to Crescent Glacier until it reaches a large snow field leading to “Lunch Counter.” The trail ends at about 8500ft elevation in the snowfield. Beyond this point it is considered to be a primitive, alpine climbing route that varies with conditions.

Mountain climbers continuing beyond the trail’s end head up the snow field to “Lunch Counter”, a relatively flat portion of Suksdorf Ridge, then upwards to the false summit “Pikers Peak” and the true summit above. This is a challenging climb of about 6,700 vertical feet that takes climbers at least 6 to 8 hours to ascend and another 4-6 hours to descend. Many do it in more than one day, camping along the route. The entire trip from trailhead to summit and back is about 12 miles. Be prepared and know your limits. For more information on climbing Mt. Adams, please see the Mt. Adams Summit page.

At a Glance

Current Conditions: 08/08/2023: Trail is accessible and snow free to 8500'. Above that elevation there are established snow patches. Contact Mt. Adams Ranger District for current conditions (509)395-3402, or check the Climbing Report on the GPNF web site.
Permit Info: For Wilderness travel below 7000ft elevation or during the climbing off-season, Wilderness Permits are required. Wilderness permits are free and self-issued at the trailhead. Travel above 7000ft elevation between May 1 and September 30 requires a Mt. Adams Climbing Permit
Usage: Heavy
Restrictions: Wilderness Regulations apply. Campfires are prohibited at certain areas on Mt. Adams. See Wilderness Regulations link above for more information. Pack out all solid wastes. Human waste pack-out bags are available for free at the South Climb Trailhead and Mt. Adams Ranger Station. Disposal cans are located at the South Climb Trailhead.
Closest Towns: Trout Lake, WA
Water: Treat all non potable water before consuming.
Restroom: Vault Toilet (2) at South Climb Trailhead
  • A valid Recreation Pass is required at South Climb Trailhead/Cold Springs. A valid Mt. Adams Climbing Permit stub may be used instead between May 1 and Sept. 30. Mt. Adams Climbing Permits are available online only.  
Operated By: Forest Service
Information Center: Mt. Adams Ranger District

General Information


South Climb Trailhead also known as Cold Springs Camp

From Trout Lake, WA 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 a hard-to-see intersection with Forest Road 80 on the left signed for South Climb. Turn left and stay on Forest Road 80 for 3.7 miles to its intersection with Forest Road 8040. Turn right onto FR 8040 and follow this for 8.1 miles to its termination at the South Climb and Coldsprings Trailheads.

Recreation Map

Map showing recreational areas. Map Information


Mountain Climbing

Recreation areas with activity Mountain Climbing:

For more information on climbing Mt. Adams, please refer to the Mt. Adams Summit page.

Day Hiking

Recreation areas with activity Day Hiking:
See activity description under Mountain Climbing.


Recreation areas with activity Backpacking:
See activity description under Mountain Climbing.

Horse Riding

Recreation areas with activity Horse Riding:
See activity description under Mountain Climbing.

Viewing Wildlife

Recreation areas with activity Viewing Wildlife:

Viewing Scenery

Recreation areas with activity Viewing Scenery:


Recreation areas with activity Picnicking:

Related Information

Recreation Areas

Recreation Activities


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

  Elevation : 
5600' - 12276'