Mount Adams/South Spur

Mount Adams via the South Spur is a strenuous 14 mile snow scramble to the summit of one of Washington's volcanoes, with 6,600 feet of elevation gain, commonly done in two days.

getting there

From I-5 south take SR 12 east for 48 miles to Randle. Turn south on Forest Road 23 and follow it 56 miles to Trout Lake. From Trout Lake, proceed 0.25 mi to Trout Lake Ranger Station to register climb. Consider carpooling from here. Then travel north from Trout Lake 1 mile to Forest Road 80, then left on Forest Road 8040 and follow it to the Cold Springs Campground and south route trailhead (5,600 ft).

Ascent Route

Follow old road from trail head approximately 1 mi to old timberline campground and junction with Round the Mountain Trail. Continue on trail to crossing at Morrison Creek (below remnants of Crescent Glacier). Cross and continue north then west, continually ascending to ridge line. Up ridge 0.5 mi and 800 ft vertical rise to snowfield above Crescent Glacier. Up snowfield to approximately 9,050 ft and campsite to left of upper snowfield. Here is a good water source. May also camp at Lunch Counter at 9400 ft (with everyone else!)

Travel northeast up to main snowfield on south spur and ascend directly to false summit at 11,657 ft. Continue north-northwest to south side of summit formation, then ascend 30° snow to broad summit area. From here it is 200 yards to lookout and summit.

Alternative Route

Could climb southeast corner of summit block if snow covered. It would be unpleasant scree without snow cover and not recommended.

Route Difficulties / Hazards

  • Icy conditions exist above 11,000 ft, however many different steps from other parties there are to follow. Crampons are required.
  • This climb is best done with as much snow on the route as possible, so plan your trip for as soon as the road is open.


  • This scramble can also be done in one vigorous day. 

Information for Leaders

Scheduling & Permits

  • A Volcano Pass (permit) must be obtained from the Mount Adams Ranger Station in Trout Lake.
  • This route allows multiple bookings. Please check scheduled trips listed below in the "Activities" tab to see if there is another group already booked on the same day. Leaders are expected to contact the leader(s) of existing trips to ensure there are no concerns or conflicts, according to The Mountaineers Outdoor Ethics Policy. Please review our Group Size & Multiple Bookings page for guidance.
  • Difficulty: Strenuous 5, Technical 4
  • Length: 14.0 mi
  • Elevation Gain: 6,600 ft
  • 12,276 ft
  • USGS Mt Adams West
  • USGS Mt Adams East
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