Hike description: To pull in Mount Adams off the horizon for an up-close and personal view, take a long daylight-saving day and venture south. This trail starts out in forest, takes you up to grand meadows, farther up lava-flow steps and along the Pacific Crest Trail for incredible views of three mountains - Adams, St. Helens and Rainier.
At a little over three miles, Trail 113 crosses the PCT and offers the option of gaining another 1,000 feet in one mile to take you to High Camp. The steepness of this section is in marked contrast to the gentle incline of the lower sections. The views just below High Camp are wonderful enough reward for those with shorter, more timid legs who are not enticed to make the last, steep, push up to the camp.
Continue east along the PCT for about 1.5 miles to Trail 112. As you amble along through the meadows, with Adams in front, make frequent stops to turn around to check out the view behind you. When you see Rainier to the north, know that a few more steps will bring you a view of St. Helens to the west.
Just before you get to Trail No. 112 you will come to a water crossing fed by the glacial melt from above. In August 2005 the crossing was a combination of logs and well-placed rocks, the configuration of which is likely to respond to the force of the rushing water below. During high water seasons, or days, you can turn around here and retrace your steps knowing that you have gotten the best views from this area. Since you won’t know until you get there whether the water crossing is something you will be comfortable with, plan for a car shuttle if you have two cars at your disposal.
Directions: Take U.S. 12 to Randle and go south on Forest Service Road 25 for one mile. Turn left and pick up Road 23 (paved and gravel) for about 31 miles to a junction with Road 2329. Turn left on Road 2329, passing the road to Takhlakh Lake at two miles and reaching the trailhead in another six miles (eight miles from 23 and 37.7 miles from Randle).
Difficulty rating: 3 (1 is easiest, 5 is most difficult)
Miles round-trip: 11
Elevation: 1,500 feet
Best time of year: July to October
Map: Green Trails 367S – Mount Adams
Pass: Northwest Forest Pass
Also: For the car shuttle option, drive 2.1 miles down the road and leave the second car at the trailhead for High Camp Trail, No. 112. The loop route is not recommended since it involves 2.1 miles of hiking along a narrow, dusty road which is neither safe nor esthetically pleasing. Fill out a Mount Adams Wilderness backcountry permit at the trailhead and please practice Leave No Trace Hiking – pack out all your trash and toilet paper. Remember to take your 10 Essentials along on this and other wilderness trips.
Info: Contact ranger station for current trail and road conditions: Gifford Pinchot National Forest Mt. Adams Ranger District, Trout Lake 509-395-3400; www.fs.fed.us/gpnf; “Day Hiking South Cascades,” “100 Hikes in South Cascades; Olympics” and “Best Loop Hikes Washington,” all Mountaineers Books.
Hike of the Week is presented by The Mountaineers Tacoma Branch Hiking/Backpacking Committee.