The Mount Adams Wilderness spans 47,122 acres along the west slope of Mount Adams, the second highest peak in the Northwest. Tucked in the eastern Cascades, Mount Adams lies east of Mount Saint Helens and north of Mount Hood. Although Mount Adams has been referred to as ‘the neglected mountain,’ it’s not uncommon for Washington locals to travel to the Mount Adams Wilderness to hike through expansive subalpine meadows and explore one of the summit’s 25+ climbing routes. Despite being the third tallest volcano in the Cascade Range, trails to the top of Mount Adams vary from highly technical routes to nontechnical hiking paths.
Towering over at least ten glaciers, Mount Adams is understandably the crowned jewel of the wilderness and takes up more than half of the surrounding wilderness. The remaining acreage belongs to the Yakima Indian Reservation, a Native American reservation located in Yakima and Klickitat counties. Though most visitors to the Mount Adams have their sights set on the summit, several other hiking trails lead to sweeping views of the peak, cascading streams, and wildflower-filled meadows.
Though it hasn’t erupted for more than 1,000 years, Mount Adams is an active volcano. In fact, Adams has produced a larger volume of eruptive material during the past million years than any other Cascade stratovolcano, with the exception of Mount Shasta. The summit lies in the middle of the Mount Adams volcanic field, a large area that comprises of at least 120 mostly basaltic volcanoes. The volcanic field has been active for over a million years and the peak maintains several active glaciers and traces of lahars that once altered the landscape.
The South Climb to the top of Mount Adams requires the least amount of technical expertise. Approaching from the south, hikers will climb nearly 7,000 feet in elevation. Though the south slope is much gentler than the craggy ridges on the east, ice axes, trekking poles, and crampons are still needed depending on the season. Most climbers take two days, starting their ascent from the trailhead and heading to the Lunch Counter for the first evening. Other climbers will camp below Crescent Glacier to avoid crowding in route to the summit. From the peak, climbers will be greeted to sweeping views of Mount Jefferson, Mount Hood, Mount Saint Helens, Mount Rainier, and Mount Baker.
Sitting at the top of the ridge, Sleeping Beauty Peak overlooks the stunning Mount Adams Wilderness and surrounding craggy summits. The trail, which ascends abruptly nearly 1,400 feet in 1.3 miles through the cool canopy of ancient Douglas fir and western hemlock. Eventually the trail reaches a grand view of Mount Adams, just 11 miles south of its base. From there, it’s an arduous climb to the top of the summit. The historic tower that once stood at the top of Sleep Beauty was built in 1931. Though it was popular at the time, it was torn down in the late 1960s when human watchers were replaced by technology.
Sitting beside the sublime Trout Lake, Trout Lake Cozy Cabins offers visitors a quaint mountain getaway in the Mount Adams Wilderness. Stunning views of Mount Adams can be admired from several cabins and opportunities for exploration are endless. A handful of restaurants and breweries can also be found just down the road in Trout Lake, Washington.
Looking for the perfect place for a romantic getaway? The Columbia Gorge Hotel & Spa offers 40 contemporary guestrooms with stunning views of the Columbia River and surrounding gardens. The hotel is a historic hotel that has been recognized as one of the Historic Hotels of America by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Visitors to the Columbia Gorge Hotel & Spa can take advantage of a variety of hiking trails leading to scenic waterfalls in the Columbia River Gorge, hit the trail in Mt. Hood, or wander into nearby Washington to explore the Mount Adams Wilderness. The hotel’s location in Hood River also means that visitors have plenty of shops, restaurants, and coffee shops to enjoy.