Mount Adams Circumambulation

Yakima County, Washington



35.1 miles

Elevation Gain

8881 ft

Route Type



Added by Benjamin Perri

A rugged, stunning, difficult, and satisfying trip around a gorgeous mountain.

***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.*** 1-509-865-5121 or 1-509-395-3402

There are a few places you can start this adventure, but starting from the South Climb Trail Head and Cold Spring Campground seemed like the best option.  It mostly meant that we were going through the Yakama Reservation where there is no trail early in the run and crossing the major water crossings before they swell too much.

At the trailhead, you gradually climb up the Round the Mountain Trail about a mile or so from when you start.  There is a campground called Timberline at the junction where you could hike in to the night before and get started right away, but the warm up to the trail is worth it since the hard stuff is about to come.  

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 RTM trail doe not actually go around the mountain.  Follow this Trail of the Flowers for about a mile and come to the first ridiculous view of Pahto at Hellroaring Viewpoint and get ready for the real adventure to start.

Now is the time a GPS track on Gaia, or Garmin, or whatever GPS device you like would come in extremely handy.  Or, if you are great with a map and compass, that would be handy too.  The trail disappears for about nine or ten miles through some of the roughest terrain on the mountain.  There are two lines to take, the higher one which most times of year will require snow tools like spikes or crampons, and an axe or the low line through thick brush or trees, down scree slopes that descend over hundreds of feet in short order, or cross raging glacial runoff over rocks and boulders everywhere.  And once you do all that, all of the sudden, you are back on the trail and on your way.  It will be slow going through this area, but savor all the amazing views and 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 PCT.  Follow the PCT for a while with some great views, until a junction with the Round the Mountain Trail and you are home free!

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