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Bird Creek Meadows, Bench Lake Loop, Little Mt. Adams, Hellroaring Meadows

Aug 06, 2011

by Nutmeg last modified Aug 09, 2011 08:34 PM
Type of Outing
Overnight
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Hike: Hellroaring Meadows
Region: South Cascades -- Mount Adams
Read More in our Hiking Guide
Hike: Bird Creek Meadows
Region: South Cascades -- Mount Adams
Agency: Yakama Nation
Avg Rating: 3.33
Read More in our Hiking Guide
Hike: Bench Lake Loop
Region: South Cascades -- Mount Adams
Why You Should Go Now
Wildflowers blooming
Ripe berries
Be Aware Of
Blowdowns
Bridge out
Overgrown
Mudholes
Water on trail
Snow on trail
Bugs
Mt. Adams and Little Adams reflected in Bench Lake
Bench Lake/Little Adams/Bench Lake Loop Hike:
The road to Bench Lake requires a high clearance vehicle – my dad’s Ford Ranger did fine but he had “the speedometer to the pin the whole way!” as he put it (zero mph, that is). It is rough going! He doesn’t have 4WD, but it would have been nice in a few spots. The lake is wonderful, as always. Bring a bug screen, and DEET – lots and lots of DEET!!! The mosquitoes are much less in the lake, so that’s pretty much where I stayed.

We tried to hike up Adams using both of the two trailheads from Bench Lake – the one for Hellroaring Creek and the loop hike (which hooks into the HC hike). The former has the bridge out after about ¼ mile just after it drops to the creek. A gnarly log over the creek did not look like a great option (see pics at link below), so we tried to go around via the 3 ¾ mile loop hike just east of the Hellroaring Creek hike up the campground road. that trail needs significant brushing and has a few downed logs, but is certainly passable. Bugs are merciless, especially at swampy point of the trail. There is one amazing meadow full of butterflies and wildflowers. There are no views of Mt. Adams from the loop hike. When you get to Hellroaring Creek, that bridge is out, too, but there are two logs across that act as perfect and branch-free stringers – easy peasy. Soon thereafter you come to a swampy bit, which I think is where the trail would veer off toward the scramble path to Little Adams. But there is no sign of it now, it’s extremely marshy, and our skin was BLACK with mosquitoes (we’re decidedly white otherwise). The trail you can see to follow takes you back to the other ford with the gnarly log. Which suddenly looks really passable when you are covered with mosquitoes. It may actually be safer to ford the creek as this log has many branches to negotiate, and you are helpless prey to the bloodsuckers in the meantime. We did do it, and the Yakama Ranger said they might drop that downed tree (it goes quite a way up the trail), lop off the branches, and use it as a bridge. That would be great! So – we did not make it TO Little Adams, much less up it. All things considered, I don’t recommend the loop hike given the nearby alternatives. However, if you can GET to Little Adams, it’s melted out.

Bird Creek Meadows:
The road to this whole area is, er, challenging after hitting the Yakama Nation Boundary, and at a few spots on FS 82 prior to that. Watch for cows, and potholes! Your family sedan is not going to swing it on these roads, but any pickup should do, and several Outbacks appeared intact.

Under snow starting about ¼ mile into the hike on 8/6. WTA Youth Volunteers had to reprioritize as they figured shoveling snow was not really priority maintenance. Bird Lake itself is 95% melted out, campsite there are fine.

Hellroaring Meadows:
See road condition notes – the trailhead for this hike is partway down the Bench Lake road. Wow. This is the hike we did instead of snow-covered Bird Creek Meadows. The improvements to this trail over the past few years are incredible – thank you, WTA!!!!! It used to be a complete bushwhack to get to Hart Lake, but is now a well-treaded trail. There were maybe 4 downed trees, all easily negotiable, and still a bit of snow over several sections of trail, but not difficult to traverse. The meadow, creeks, wildflowers, and peek-a-boo view of Adams, all wrapped in that irreplicable alpine smell – AH! This is why I have loved coming here since I was 2 years old!!!

Flickr link w/ pics of Bird Lake, Bench Lake (& loop hike), Hellroaring Meadows, etc. is at http://www.flickr.com/[…]/ (click on pic to see fullsize).
Meg using the bridge courtesy of nature to ford Hellroaring Creek on Bench Lake Loop (attempting to get to Little Adams trail)
Wildflowers in Hellroaring Meadows
Hellroaring Meadows Trail
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