Gotchen Creek Trail is a 2.9-mile, high-elevation, single-track in the middle of Gotchen Meadows, south of Mount Adams and the Mount Adams Wilderness.
This trail intersects with Cold Springs Trail (#72) and Morrison Creek Trail (#39) and crosses Hole-in-the-Ground Creek. Most hikers combine Gotchen Creek Trail with these two others to form a loop.
From north to south the trail begins on Forest Road 8040, climbs McDonald Ridge then descends, passing the two mentioned trail intersections. The highly porous soil and pumice holds no water and the only signs of erosion come from cows which have grazed this open range since 1912. In certain places Andesite rock makes up the trail.
The track ends in the south near a livestock corral on Forest Road 8020. Gotchen Meadows is the driest part of Mount Adams. Along this route there are no streams save a small creek. Bring plenty of water. WTA crews worked to improve this obscure trail in 2021.
Historically the meadow and trail are named for the Gotchen family—sheepherders from eastern Oregon who traveled here each summer to graze their flocks. That changed in 1972 when adjacent lands were returned to the Yakama Nation.
Gotchen Meadows is recovering from three burns. The Cascade Creek Fire in 2012 was the largest fire in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest since 1927 and the largest on Mount Adams since at least 1885. Two other burns on either side of the Morrison Creek basin were the 2008 Cold Springs Fire and the 2015 Cougar Complex Fire.
These natural events have left the meadow with little forest canopy and large tracts of bunchgrass and black snags. As of 2021 the forest is returning with saplings of ponderosa pine, western white pine, and Douglas Fir widely dispersed.