Around-the-Mountain #9,Divide Camp #112,High Camp #10,Killen Creek #113
Jul 24, 2006
- Type of Outing
- Day hike
- Read More in our Hiking Guide
- Hike: Around-the-Mountain
- Region: South Cascades
- Trails: Around-the-Mountain (#9)
- Avg Rating: 2.25
- Be Aware Of
Mount Adams Round-the-Mountain Trail
Last year (2005) a group of us backpacked on the Round-the-Mountain Trail from the South Climb Trail to Killen Creek, and visited High Camp; this was reported on in a “Northwest Explorer” article of the August 2006 issue of Washington Trails. This year Cecile and I returned to the Killen Creek/High Camp area, accompanied by Jonathan and Rosy Betz-Zall and Manny and Sarah Weiser. We had a very leisurely trip of six days commencing July 24th, with base camps at Killen Creek and Lewis River.
As previously, we drove to Takhlakh Lake Campground on a Sunday afternoon and started the next morning, thereby avoiding the crowds. The Killen Creek Trailhead was about five miles up the road from Takhlakh Lake, and between the two was the Divide Camp Trailhead, where we spotted a vehicle. We started up the Killen Creek Trail, ascending 1500' in 3 m. to the Round-the-Mountain Trail at 6100'. Jonathan had not backpacked in many years, but he did fine. We then followed the Round-the-Mountain Trail north for 0.8 m. to Killen Creek, where we found a beautiful camp in a grove of trees. Unfortunately, the bugs were really horrible at Killen Creek, the worst we’ve encountered in thirty years of backpacking, except in Necklace Valley.
The next day we all set off north on the Round-the-Mountain Trail, to see what we could see. We stayed fairly level for the two miles in the trees to Foggy Flat (again terrible bugs!), and then started climbing in the open lava fields. We crossed one tricky stream coming from Lava Glacier and then crossed over to the stream coming from Lyman Glacier. We ascended several hundred feet along this stream, but it became clear that we could not find a safe place to cross its raging water. So we had lunch and returned to camp.
On Day 3 we walked back to the Killen Creek Trail and took its continuation 760' up to High Camp, a beautiful open plateau below Mount Adams. Some of us explored further up the mountain, while the more lazy among us (including M.M. Dave) read or painted. Then we took an exploratory route southwest down to the Round-the-Mountain Trail, ending up close to its crossing of Adams Creek (for which a log bridge is provided, and really needed). This could be a direct route up to High Camp from the south.
On the next day we moved camp, following the Round-the-Mountain Trail past Adams Creek to the Lewis River (actually a small stream here). For a campsite, we first explored up the north side of the River, but to no avail. However, we did have good luck in finding an excellent campsite in trees about 160' above the Round-the-Mountain Trail, coming up the south side of the Lewis River between two branches of it. A couple was camped in the open forty yards below us, and they took great umbrage at our camping anywhere near them and promptly vacated the area. But there really wasn’t other decent camping around, except possibly much higher up; we’ve never experienced such an attitude – backpackers are usually friendly and hospitable.
On Day 5 we followed the Round-the-Mountain Trail 2.8 m. south to Sheep Lake for lunch, passing through an interesting lava area. The next day we backtracked almost as far as Adams Creek and took the Divide Camp Trail an easy three miles down to our spotted car. This trail is actually easier than the Killen Creek Trail, being well-graded. After a nice lunch in Randle at the restaurant on the corner where Forest Service Road 23 takes off from Highway 12, we drove back to Seattle in three hours.
This route probably covers the best of the Mount Adams Round-the-Mountain (“Highline”) trail, and is highly recommended for its beauty and ease of backpacking. Avoid the High Camp crowds by doing it midweek! The route is covered by four USGS 1:24,000 topos: Green Mountain, Glaciate Butte, Mount Adams East, and Mount Adams West.