Mt. Adams Wilderness Area

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Along the west slope of Mt. Adams lies the 47,280-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, tumblingstreams, 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 formountain climbers.

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

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

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

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 andvaried 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 volcanicflows 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 mountainabove 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 calledmoraines).
  • 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 ina 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 ofthis great avalanche.
  • 3,500 to 6,000 years ago: the Muddy Fork and Aiken Lava Flows moved down the flanks ofMount 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.

Hiking and Climbing Information

Many routes exist up Mount Adams with the South Climb route the most popular. Whilethese 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, warmclothing, a first-aid kit, sun glasses and sunscreen, waterproof matches, a candle or firestarter, and a pocket knife), equipment should include sturdy hiking boots, ice ax,crampons, and ropes when travelling on glaciers.

Hiking Trails

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 isvery 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 permitsare 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 isthrough timber. There is one large opening on Crofton Butte, providing a scenic view ofthe 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 theMt. 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

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 asaccess to climb the North Cleaver Route on Mt. Adams. The trail terminates in a highalpine 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 justnorth 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 trailterminates 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 #9 Aleaves Trail #9 descending south through rocky washes, rolling grades, and sparselytimbered 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 #2000at 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 travelsthough the Mt. Adams Wilderness, as well as Indian Heaven Wilderness and non-wildernessterrain. 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 Wildernessboundary.
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 beginson Road 8031060. Within 500 feet it enters the Mt. Adams Wilderness, traveling throughlarge fairly open timber. After a short walk, one might expect to see elk grazing, waterplants 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 nearthe 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 southwestslopes of Mt. Adams, Trail #16 begins in Morrison Creek Campground. It climbs norththrough 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 isat Cold Springs Campground. The trail follows what used to be Road N81 from Cold Springsto 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 androcky 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

Climbing Routes

Mt. Adams, with its summit at 12,276 feet elevation, is one of five major volcanic peaks in the Pacific Northwest. There are several climbing routes on the mountain, ranging from the "non-technical" South Climb, to highly technical routes that require advanced skill, experience and special equipment.

The difficulty and danger of any climb are directly affected by preparedness andweather conditions. Weather on Mt. Adams can change rapidly. Sudden snow storms can occurabove 6000 feet elevation during any month of the year. What appears to be a non-technicalroute can change drastically during these storms. Climbers should always be prepared forbad weather and an extended stay on the mountain.

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 8040500. The three-mile section of the road beyond Morrison Creek Campgroundis extremely rough and narrow. Please drive carefully!

Follow Trail #183 across the intersection with Round-the-Mountain Trail #9, then continue to just below Crescent Glacier. Bearing to the left of Crescent Glacier, continue yourascent to the top of the glacier (approximately 8600 feet elevation). Bear to the right(across "Lunch Counter") to Suksdorf Ridge and ascend to the summit. Looking back occasionally on your way up from timberline to the summit helps minimize routeconfusion on your way down. Do not follow the ridge all the way down on your descent--the trail leaves the ridge and turns east just below Crescent Glacier.

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 inorder to adjust to the altitude, prior to beginning their ascent of the summit."Lunch Counter," the relatively flat area above Crescent Glacier is the mosthighly 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 prevalentheavy rockfalls. Ice axes, crampons & ropes required.

Access the Adams Glacier route via Killen Creek trail #113, then High Camp trail #10(approximately four miles). From High Camp bear southeast to the lower edge of AdamsGlacier (approximately 7,000 feet elevation). Continue southeast for one to one-and-onehalf miles to icefall between North Ridge and Northwest Ridge. Ascend icefall to summitdome 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.

Important Phone Numbers

--Avalanche Advisory Oregon: (503) 808-2400

--Avalanche Advisory Washington: (206) 526-6677

--Mt. Adams Ranger District : (509) 395-3400

--Yakima County Sheriff: (800) 572-0490 (Search & Rescue)

--Trout Lake EMT's & First Responders : 911


Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 13 Jul 2011
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication

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