Weekend Backpacker: Seattle
Mount Adams Ranger District/Gifford Pinchot National Forest
2455 Highway 141
Trout Lake, WA 98650
Mount Adams often gets left in the literal and figurative shadow of its northern neighbor, Mount Rainier, but at 12,276 feet this volcano offers equally good hiking opportunities.
Recommended trip: Killen Creek to Muddy Meadows loop, with a detour on the Highline Trail.
Expect a total circumnavigation of Mount Adams to be thwarted by capricious permitting processes on the Yakima Indian Reservation, which covers the east side of the mountain. Opt instead for one of the area's few loop trips, which starts at Killen Creek Campground off road No. 2329, and climbs to the Pacific Crest Trail #113 (this wooded path is steep and frequently used by horses, but you have to get up somehow). Once on the crest, go north and east and hook up with #114, the Highline Trail, for a five-mile detour around the mountain. The first two miles run between forests and meadows; the last two miles are above treeline and give you views of the glaciated northeast side of Adams. At five miles you hit the reservation and have to backtrack to Muddy Creek Trail (#13). Follow it in the trees down to Spring Creek Campground. A two-mile road hike takes you back to Killen Creek.
Getting there: Drive south from Tacoma on Highway 7 to Highway 12. Go east to Randle and follow signs to Mount Adams. At road No. 23 turn left and follow this for 32 miles. Turn left on road No. 2329. Trailhead is at 6 miles (Killen Creek Campground).
Permit information: Free backcountry permits are available at the trailhead. Recreation fees are being restructured this year, so call the Vancouver headquarters of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest at (360)891-5000 to check the status before you arrive.
Maps: USGS topo map of Mount Adams Wilderness marks all major trails.
100 Hikes in the South Cascades and Olympics (Mountaineers) has detailed outlines of Adams Creek Meadows and the Highline trail; Exploring Washington's Wild Areas (Mountaineers) has a clear map and good descriptions of the region's geology and history.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication