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Mount Adams Circumambulation

Mt. Adams/Indian Heaven Wilderness/Goat Rocks, Washington

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Mount Adams Circumambulation

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  • Open meadows to start the day.- Mount Adams Circumambulation
  • Meadows at the beginning of the hike.- Mount Adams Circumambulation
  • Views opening up along the trail.- Mount Adams Circumambulation
  • Hikers make their way through an open hillside.- Mount Adams Circumambulation
  • Some of the terrain requires careful and agile footing.- Mount Adams Circumambulation
  • Bushwhacking on the Mount Adams Circumambulation.- Mount Adams Circumambulation
  • Mount Adams looming large from trail.- Mount Adams Circumambulation
  • Mount Adams looming large from trail.- Mount Adams Circumambulation
  • Seasonal flows may make some crossings hazardous, so be sure to check with the ranger station before heading out. - Mount Adams Circumambulation
  • The Pacific Crest Trail runs along portions of the circumambulation.- Mount Adams Circumambulation
  • Crossing a meadow beneath Mount Adams.- Mount Adams Circumambulation
  • Open views from the trail.- Mount Adams Circumambulation
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Rugged. Mountain views. Unique landscapes. Solitude.
Cons: 
Off-trail navigation. Difficult terrain. Exposure to sun. Water crossings can be dangerous.
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Region:
Mt. Adams/Indian Heaven Wilderness/Goat Rocks, WA
Congestion: 
Low
Pets allowed: 
No
Highest point: 
7,756.00 ft (2,364.03 m)
Year round: 
No
Open from: 
July 31 to October 31
Parking Pass: 
General Day Use Fee
Permit required: 
No
Preferable Season(s):
Summer, Fall
Total Distance: 
35.00 mi (56.33 km)
Total elevation gain: 
8,881.00 ft (2,706.93 m)
Trail type: 
Loop
Trailhead Elevation: 
5,555.00 ft (1,693.16 m)
Typically multi-day: 
No
Current Local Weather:
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Hike Description

Hike Description

Contributor

There are a few places you can start this adventure, but starting from the South Climb Trailhead and Cold Spring Campground is a good option. It mostly means that you are going through the Yakama Reservation, where there is no trail early in the run, but you'll also cross the major water crossings before they swell too much.

From the trailhead you'll gradually climb up to the Round the Mountain Trail for about a mile.  There is a campground called Timberline at the junction, and this is a good option if your first day is a short afternoon to camp, but the warm up to the trail is worth it because the hard stuff is ahead.  

Turn right at the junction and follow the rolling Round the Mountain Trail in and out of the forest, crossing a few creeks along the way. The next junction is the Snipes Mountain Trail off to the right. Keep going, the views are coming.

Going forward, the trail rolls and reaches the Bird Creek Meadows area. July and August would be prime time for wildflowers here. Not far beyond the Meadow there will be a trail off to the left called Trail of the Flowers. Even though there is a choice to stay on the Round the Mountain Trail, go left onto the Trail of the Flowers as the Round the Mountain Trail doe not actually go around the mountain. Follow this Trail of the Flowers for about a mile and you'll reach the first ridiculous view of Pahto at Hellroaring Viewpoint. Get ready for the real adventure to start.

A GPS device or a map and compass are important at this point. The trail disappears for about 9 or 10 miles through some of the roughest terrain on the mountain. There are two lines to take: The higher one requires snow tools like spikes or crampons and an axe most of the year; the low line leads through thick brush, down scree slopes that descend over hundreds of feet in short order, across raging creeks swollen with runoff, and over rocks and boulders. And once you do all that, all of a sudden you will be back on the trail and on your way. It will be slow going through this area, but savor all the amazing views, take your time, and make sure you are on course. 

Once back on trail, the going gets way easier and more wide open, which is a great respite from what just transpired. The trail that just appears is called Highline Trail, and this is the one that takes you to the the Pacific Crest Trail.  Follow the Pacific Crest Trail for a while with some great views until you meet up with the Round the Mountain Trail, and you are home free!

Note: Before you go on this trek, give the Yakama Nation a call and talk to a Ranger to make sure the trail is open to backpackers or hikers: 509.865.5121 or 509.395.3402

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Location + Directions

Location + Directions

Nearby Camping + Lodging

(10 within a 30 mile radius)

Nearby Adventures

(40 within a 30 mile radius)

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