Mt. Adams Summit

Area Status: Open
This area is Open

Mt Adams covered in snow and reflected in Tahklahk Lake

Mt. Adams, with its summit of 12,276 feet elevation, is the second highest peak in Washington State and the third highest peak in the Cascades Range. There are several climbing routes on the mountain, ranging from the "non-technical" South Climb, to highly technical routes that require advance skill, experience, and special equipment. Because of the high elevation, all climbs have a measure of difficulty and danger.

Weather on Mt. Adams can change rapidly. Sudden snowstorms can occur above 6,000 feet elevation at any month of the year. What appears to be a non-technical route can change drastically during these storms. Your safety will be the result of your preparation and good judgment. Climbers should always prepare for bad weather and an extended stay on the mountain.

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. Be prepared and know your limits.

Mt. Adams climbing routes and summit are within Mt. Adams Wilderness and is protected and managed to preserve its natural condition. It is to provide opportunities for solitude as well as primitive and unconfined types of recreation. Your actions will help all of us care for this unique area.

At a Glance

Current Conditions: 4/15/2019: Road 80 to trailhead is snow covered and not driveable. Parking is approximately 9 miles below the trailhead at this time of year. The road typically melts out completely to the trailhead at the end of May. Please park carefully where other cars won't be blocked in. A Cascade Volcano Pass is required for climbing May 1 - Sept. 30. Contact the Mt. Adams Ranger District 509-395-3402 for further information.
Permit Info: Wilderness permits are required for entry into Mt. Adams Wilderness. The self-issuing permits are free and are available at trailheads and at Forest Service Ranger Stations. A Cascades Volcano Pass may be used as your Wilderness permit between May 1 and Sept. 30.
Usage: Medium-Heavy
Restrictions: Wilderness restrictions applyPack out all solid wastes. Human waste pack-out bags are available for free at the Mt. Adams Ranger Station. Disposal cans are located at the South Climb Trailhead.  
Closest Towns: Trout Lake, WA
Passes: 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. (For Wilderness travel at low elevation or during the off-season, Wilderness Permits are required.)  
  • Some trailheads require a valid Recreation Pass. (A valid Cascades Volcano Pass parking stub may be used at trailheads requiring a pass within Mt. Adams Wilderness between May 1 and Sept. 30.)  
Operated By: Forest Service
Information Center: Mt. Adams Ranger District, (509) 395 3400  
  • Avalanche Advisory, Oregon (503) 808 2400; Washington (206) 526 6677
  • Yakima County Sheriff: (800) 572 0490 (Search & Rescue)
  • Trout Lake Emergency Medical Technicians & First Responders: 911

General Information


From Bingen, WA., take Highway 141 north 25 miles to Trout Lake, WA. Continue on Highway 141 through Trout Lake, one mile, and you will see the sign for the Mt. Adams Ranger Station. Mt. Adams Ranger Station is located at 2455 Highway 141, Trout Lake, WA 98650.

Climbing Routes

South Climb

  • The South Climb is considered a "non-technical" route, however, ice axes and crampons are recommended year-round. South Climb Trail #183 begins at the end of Forest Road 8040-500. The three-mile section of the road beyond Morrison Creek Campground is extremely rough and narrow. Please drive carefully!
  • Time: 6-8 hours up (ascending), 4-6 hour down (descending). Many climbers begin their ascent one day, then spend the night at some elevation in order to adjust to the altitude, prior to beginning their ascent of the summit. Lunch Counter, the relatively flat area above Crescent Glacier is the most highly used camping area. Those seeking a more sheltered and less popular camp area may choose to camp below Crescent Glacier, in the Morrison Creek drainage. 

North Cleaver

  • The North Cleaver Route is rocky. Ice axes and crampons are essential. Access the North Cleaver via Killen Creek Trail #113, then High Camp Trail #10 (approximately four miles). North Cleaver lies in a north-south direction between Adams and Lava Glaciers. A bearing of due south across the summit dome leads to the summit.
  • Time: 12-16 hours from the road to summit; 5-8 hours down. (Allow 2 days).

Adams Glacier

  • For Experienced Technical Climbers Only -- Crevassed 35-40 degree slopes and prevalent heavy rockfalls. Ice axes, crampons, and ropes required.  Access the Adams Glacier route via Killen Creek Trail #113, then High CampTrail #10 (approximately four miles). From High Camp bear southeast to the lower edge of Adams Glacier (approximately 7,000 feet elevation). Continue southeast for one to one-and-one half miles to icefall between North Ridge and Northwest Ridge. Ascend icefall to summit dome and then south to the True Summit.
  • Time: Conditions on the Adams Glacier route are generally better in early summer. Allow two days to complete the climb. 

General Notes:

Mountain Safety

Wilderness Restrictions

Leave No Trace

Minimum-impact backcountry use is a hands-on, practical approach to caring about both the land and others who share its richness. Its success hinges on the willingness of the individual user to learn, to think, and then to commit knowledge to action. Demonstrate your commitment to a Backcountry Ethic by following these simple guidelines:

  • Limit the size of your group. Large parties disturb other visitors' solitude and cause greater impacts to trails and campsites. 
  • Pack it in-Pack it Out. Take out all of your garbage, along with anyone else's you might find along the way. Remember--aluminum foil and plastic don't burn--take them with you. 
  • Use an established campsite in high use areas, and when camping in remote areas select a site on resilient ground, at least 100 feet from lakes, streams and trails. Naturalize your campsite when you leave. 
  • Use a backpacking stove for cooking. Stoves are cleaner, more convenient and don't scar the landscape as campfires do. In Mt. Adams Wilderness, fires are prohibited above 6,000 feet elevation. 
  • Even "Biodegradable" Soap Pollutes cold high country water. Collect water in a pot and wash yourself and cooking gear at least 200 feet from water sources. 
  • Dispose of Solid Waste by burying it 6-8 inches deep, at least 200 feet from lakes, streams or trails. Carry plastic ziplock bag to pack out used toilet paper. On Mt. Adams climbing routes, pack out all solid wastes. Human waste pack-out bags are available for free at the Mt. Adams Ranger Station. Disposal cans are located at the South Climb Trailhead.

Recreation Map

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