Mount Adams South Climb Trail

HARD 72 reviews
#1 of 5 trails in

Mount Adams South Climb Trail is a 11.2 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Trout Lake, Washington that features beautiful wild flowers and is only recommended for very experienced adventurers. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from May until September. Dogs and horses are also able to use this trail.

11.2 miles
6,732 feet
Out & Back

dog friendly



horseback riding





wild flowers



no shade

Climb one of the Cascade giants in Washington State for a fantastic ski or board down over 6000 vertical feet. Mt. Adams is one of the favorite volcanoes in the Cascade Range for those want to summit one of the bigger mountains of in Washington and ski down from the top. Due to its moderately sloped south face, it offers an outstanding ski run from the summit at 12276 ft to the snow's end at 6-7000 ft depending on the timing of the tour. One caution: this is a real mountain. Despite its low terrain hazard risks of the south approach, there have been a number of injured and lost climbers on this route. The weather can turn quickly as on any major peak and climbers must be prepared to stay out overnight in some form of protection. Many skiers with a good deal of endurance will do this climb in a single long day, but often travel very light and consequently are gambling on good weather. This hike is suggested as a two day climb - to allow for more skiing and also to provide a cushion should the weather or snow conditions turn sour. The snow varies from frozen crust to perfect summer corn depending on your timing and fortune. Via Cold Springs and South Spur This is a challenging climb up a 12,000 foot volcano in southern Washington. You'll climb close to 7,000 feet for this ski descent. When you get up to the base of the glacier it will look like a highway of climbers in spring and summer months. Hope for good snow as the descent is fantastic. Beware - there is a false summit so be prepared to be disappointed as you crest what you think is the top, only to have to hike another half mile or so. When you ski down get some speed from the true top and you might be able to make it partly up the false summit.

30 minutes ago

Did it Car to Car, which made for 12.5 hours if hiking. A beautiful hike, yet it was hard for us to find any trail up the snow when the trail ended, and I don't know if we were looking in the wrong spot or if there was no trail at all.

5 hours ago

This trail was amazing! We left the Trailhead at noon, arrived at Lunch Counter around 4. Setup camp in a very nice spot to watch a beautiful sunset! The wind was very lite and the sky was gorgeous! We headed for Pikers Peak around 6:30, made it to the summit before noon. The weather was beautiful with a lite wind on the summit. We glissaded most of the way back down to Lunch Counter. We broke camp and made it back to the trailhead around 5:30. Had an amazing hike!


5 days ago

On June 26th we set off at 05:30 for one long day. We made the summit around 12noon. The climb was good and steady. We had crampons for the hard snow and I’m glad. Made the climb easier. The sky was crystal clear, blue and beautiful. The winds were relatively calm. The summit view was absolutely outstanding!!! The glissading was SO fun!!! We did the entire trip in one day. Excellent mountain!

11 days ago

we started our hike mid-day after checking into the range station the road to the trail head is a nice drive and snow free. I made a video of our hike, it shows conditions and what to expect, you can find it here:
The trail from the trail-head to Lunch Counter was very well marked both with a solid boot pack and with trail markers eventually we ended putting on our crampons for a short steep section and left them on until we arrived at lunch counter, I would say they are recommended but it can be completed without them. We set up camp at lunch Counter right at the base of Pikers Peak. There is still alot of snow at Lunch Counter however there are tons of spots that are snow free. We started our push up Pikers at around 3:30am there was clear skies and the snow was solid. we took our time going up and arrived at the summit around 8:30am. The trail was nice all the way to the base of the true summit where people took there own routes to the summit I would exercise caution in this section. overall It was a great hike with amazing views check out my experience at:

Be safe out there,
NW Adventures

21 days ago

2 months ago

Just returned from climbing Mt. Adams It was absolutely a brutal climb with challenging weather to braking trail in one ft of fresh snow at the false summit is not fun.
On 12:15 pm April 28 we were the only climbers on false summit and on the entire Mt Adams, myself and my friend Carlie.
Since there where no any other foot steps or previous signs that any one has summited before. We decided to stop there.
Also hiking to South Camp is 5 miles from the last location where you can drive.
It rain, snow and freezes, don’t underestimate Mt Adams.
Adams has several saddle backs around 3 of them one in particular has 1.000 ft dropping approximately which will make you and break you.
Go conquer...respect the mountain. Be safe always leave to tell the story.

2 months ago

Went this past weekend to attempt summit. Had a late start and a 6 mile walk to the trail head where we set up camp for the night and decided to call it quits the next morning and will return to attempt the summit when the road is clear. Still spectacular views and a fun time camping out at the base. Good practice hike. If you want to attempt it with the road still snowed over, snow shoes will help you immensely, however crampons will do fine too.

8 months ago

Amazing climb, watch weather reports for snow later in the season. We climbed on 9/22 and had 2-3 feet of fresh snow in areas.

9 months ago

I did a summit on 8/24 and it was perfect weather for the opportunity. It was chilly which meant the ice stuck better as opposed to climbing up slush, but it was a blue sky, bright sun kinda day. I started the climb at 5am after sleeping in my car at the trailhead. I'm a pretty experienced hiker and occasional climber, but this was my first mountaineering experience. I successfully did it solo as no ropes were needed, but did have to use my ice axe near the top of Piker's Peak to self arrest. The last steep section to that false summit was very tough, so you need positive mental stamina to complete that, or an encouraging partner. After the Piker's Peak (false summit), it's an easy ridge walk and then 20 minutes of switchbacks to the summit.
Reaching that summit is worth every bit of the tough climb up. I summited around 1:30 and would have easily finished the climb by 5, but got lost on the way down since I wasn't paying attention (oops) so didn't get to my car until 9pm.
By far the biggest obstacle was making it from Lunch Counter to Piker's Peak. It isn't far, but it's tough, and you'll need a good pace and some rest stops. To give you an idea, I approached the steep slope of Piker's climb at 10:30am but didn't get to Piker's Peak until 1pm...and it's only 1/4 mile.
Be up for the challenge and be up for a very rewarding experience.

10 months ago

Loved it! Summited on 8/20/17 and while it was really difficult, it was also wonderful. Ice axe and crampons are necessary (also, know how to self arrest in case of a slip and fall. There are plenty of places around 8,200 ft that give you a chance to practice if needed.) It's a tough climb if you're only in decent to good shape, but still totally worth it.

10 months ago

Did a 2 day summit starting on 8/19. Amazing sunset views against Mt. Hood and Mt. St. Helens. Crystal clear views of the milky way and the meteor shower as well. Crampons and ice axe very highly recommended. Glisading was getting pretty spotty. Made it up to the trail head in my miata with coilovers but it wasn't very fun :p. Overall a great first time summit.

11 months ago

I started the hike at 3AM and it took me about 3 Hours to get to the lunch counter. There were a good amount of people camping and there's definitely a good amount of snow left. I was up with microspikes but didn't summit. I would suggest using crampons to summit, also after 9ish the snow started to become slush so be careful.

Sunday, October 09, 2016

I did this hike on September 10th. The drive up to the trailhead was sketchy but not horrible. I made it up in a Honda Civic. The weather was perfect and there wasn't too many people on the trail. The hike up to Lunch Counter took about 4 hours and wasn't too difficult. It was actually easier and more pleasant than I thought it would be.

We camped up at LC and watched the sunset, which was breathtaking. It got very cold and windy at night but the whiskey helped warm us up. I have never seen so many stars in my life. It was so surreal. I definitely want to go back and camp again- I highly recommend it!

We left our tent and some of our stuff and headed up for the summit the next morning. From there on, we were hiking on snow with our crampons. It was long and grueling. I forgot to pack my sunblock which was a huge mistake. I ended up with bad sunburn on my face. While hiking up the steep snowfields, there was a lot of steam coming out of the mountain. So much, that it blocked the sun a few times. It was such an amazing thing to see.

Once we got to the false summit, I saw how much further up we had to go, and I actually wanted to turn back. Luckily, my friend convinced me to keep going. It actually looks a lot worse than it really is. That last hill didn't take long at all and I made it to the summit. The view from the summit was pretty cool, but I've seen better ;) Actually it didn't all sink in until the next day, and it get like such a great accomplishment.

When we made our descent down the snowfields, we used the glissade chutes, which were SUPER icy. I lost my ice axe and had to use my trekking poles. It was super scary, but we saved so much time coming down. We broke down the tent and made our way back down.

I think all together it took us 14 or 15 hours. I highly recommend this climb. It was the most memorable mountain adventure I've ever had!

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Bucket list item... check. Summited with dear friend on a Tuesday.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

great experience for our first mountaineering mountain. had equipment problems at the lunch counter and had to call it the next morning. overall great place to practice basic techniques. will definitely make another trip to go.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Love the snow fields.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Incredible! The sunrise from lunch counter is worth the entire trip! Challenging and probably a good idea to go with someone who is experienced your first time.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Great climb with great views. The Shute from the false summit will take you almost all the way back down to lunch counter in one slide. Epic sliding for close to 1000 feet!

Bring your crampons, poles, and an axe!

Sunday, February 21, 2016

What a great climb! We hiked up to Lunch Counter and went to bed around 3pm. We left at 3am for the summit. Got there around 9:30. It was much more fun glacading down than it was hiking up.

Monday, August 03, 2015

I made it up to just below Piker's Peak, but the rest of my group made the summit Sunday morning. We brought our dog, and on the approach she tore up her front pads so we took shifts dog-sitting at our camp at Lunch Counter. I went up solo to take sunset photos, and the rest of the group summited the next morning.

The weather was warm, and all-in-all it was a beautiful day and we had an absolute blast. I tracked 4.3 miles from Cold Springs to Lunch Counter, and we estimate another 2 miles to the summit from there so the 13.6 miles listed in the trail description seems accurate. The hike gets harder and harder until the false summit at 11,657.

We all had YakTrax Ice-Trekkers, and those did fine but in colder weather / harder snow and ice, full crampons would be necessary. Ice-axes were the same idea--we could have got by without them but in other conditions they would be vital.

There's effectively zero shade, so a spare tarp or rain-fly might be worth the weight. Bring lots of sunscreen, extra batteries for headlamps and cameras, and know how to pace yourself.

It's a great climb!!

Monday, June 15, 2015

This was a great climb! I went with a group of 5 and we stayed at lunch counter on a Friday night and then all of us made the summit Saturday morning. It was a strenuous climb and the weather was very cold and windy, but we were blessed with clear skies and great views! We left lunch counter at 7:00am and made summit around 9:30am. Winds were about 20-30mph most of the way up, and I'd guess 40+ on the summit. We didn't stay at the summit for very long because it was very cold up on top. Crampons and ice axe definitely required as we faced steep icy slopes on the way up, and part way down. The snow had softened up enough that we were able to glissade part way down which was great! All in all a great hike/climb, and I would definitely recommend!

Sunday, September 01, 2013

A group from our church, I-90 Community Church, met weekly during the spring and early summer for training hikes in the local area with weighted packs. For many of us it was our first mountain climbing experience but several of the leaders had summited Rainier, Baker etc multiple times, so we were in good hands.

We hiked to Lunch Counter on Friday 7/12/2013 and set up camp to spend the night. It was cold but we were warm enough in our sleep cell sleeping bags.

Everyone in the group made it to the summit the next day. The weather couldn't have been better (no wind) and the views were incredible. Crampons and Ice Axes are a must and so is training. It was a hard hike but doable with preparation. After making it to the summit we rested, snacked took photos and then began glissading back to LC to break camp and hike back to the cars parked at the trailhead. We topped the trip off with burgers and beer at the Full Sail Brewery in Hood River.

It was an incredible experience over all and I'm glad I did it.

The group is talking about climbing Baker next summer.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Summited on 08/25/2013 we camped the night before 1000 feet below the lunch counter. We started our accent around 3:30 AM and summited at 9 AM. The weather was decent at 9000 feet but started to get bad around 10000 feet. On the summit the wind chill was 5 degrees Fahrenheit and the wind was 40-50 MPH. We could not see more then 20 feet on the summit. But the real mountain experience was amazing! We had the gear to battle severe winter weather and had to use ALL of it. 4 layers on. You'll be sore and tired the next day but it is sooo worth it. You should have an Ice axe, cramp ons, and gear to deal with temperatures from 0-70 the weather changes very fast!

Sunday, October 07, 2012

This was my first alpine climb back in 2008. I have completed the South Climb 3 times and had a very different experience each time. Back in 08 there was virtually no snow except at the summit. This year and last year there was a lot more snow. Each year I went in mid-August. This year we had some crazy lightning storms roll through the night before our summit attempt. It was a spectacular show! I would recommend this climb for anyone who is considering Alpine climbs. It is a great climb to start with nothing technical and great area for learning basic mountaineering skills.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Climbed Adams in August and it was my first alpine adventure over 9000 feet. We arrived at the parking lot at 1000 am and the summer trail was open at this time with occasional snow on the trail. As we made our way up to lunch counter we stopped 200 feet short due to the amount of hikers setting up camp. I was suffering from minute altitude sickness but as we got rest the symptoms stabilized. We stepped off at 4 am and we made our way to pikes peak. As we reached the false summit we took a 10 minute break to get some food an water. We summited at 11 am, the sky was clear and you could see Rainer, saint Helen's, and hood. After we took our photos we glissaded the entire way down arriving at 1200 at our camp site. Made it back to the car at 4 pm. Great hike would love to do it again

Monday, June 18, 2012

Attempted to summit Adams in one day starting from the Morrison Creek campground. The road was impassible above Morrison Creek due to snow so we just pitched a tent beside the road and started from there. Left at 3:30 am with a goal of reaching the summit by 1:00. The winter route takes a slightly different course than the summer, farther east over the shoulder of South Butte. Switched into crampons right at the base of South Butte as it was quite icy. Weather was extremely clear and very windy most of the day but changed in the early afternoon to near whiteout conditions. Did not reach summit, turned around about halfway up the accent to false summit.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Hiked up to the LC in October, a storm came in brought 6-8" snow, 20 degree temps, and 45 mph winds. Make sure you're prepared for weather if going in shoulder season. Crampons required, ice above 9k.

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