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Mount Adams South Climb (Lunch Counter Approach)



11.8 mile 18.9 kilometer loop
53% Runnable


Ascent: 6,687' 2,038 m
Descent: -6,686' -2,038 m
High: 12,237' 3,730 m
Low: 5,563' 1,695 m


Avg Grade: 22% (12°)
Max Grade: 96% (44°)


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Trail shared by Napo GV


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The South Climb (Lunch Counter Approach) is the least technical route up Mount Adams.

Napo GV

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A Cascade Volcano Pass is required to use this area and attempt the climb. For information on acquiring permits, visit the Gifford Pinchot National Forest website.


Mt. Adams, with its summit of 12,276 feet elevation, is the second-highest peak in Washington State and the third-highest peak in the Cascade Range. Summiting this majestic peak is no small feat. However, with the right gear, training, and route, it is possible to do without tackling serious technical challenges. The South Climb is the least technical ascent of the mountain, but what it lacks in technicality, it makes up for in gorgeous views of the entire chain of Cascade Volcanoes.

Need to Know

You'll want to download the Trail Run Project mobile app before you go, as there's no cell coverage in the area and a proper GPS track to guide your way will be helpful.

A high-clearance vehicle is strongly recommended to access the South Climb Trailhead near the old Cold Springs Campground. Be sure to take the road nice and slow, as it is incredibly narrow and rutted—A car coming the other way will prove a challenge.

All climbers need to be prepared to deal with a wide variety of weather, snow, and rock conditions. The route can deviate drastically depending on the weather conditions.


The trail follows switchbacks in the woods for about a mile. After 1.5 miles, the route splits in one straight and steep trail or another a little bit less steep. Both trails join again at the Lunch Counter (base camp for people spending the night on the mountain). After that, there are no trail or trail markers, so just follow the bootpack (if it's available) to Pikers Peak.

Pikers Peak is a false summit that can take a few hours to reach from the Lunch Counter. Before Pikers Peak, you might find a rock formation on the right where you would like to stop to get some snacks and be out of the wind. After reaching Pikers Peak, you'll see the summit less than two miles away. Continue following the bootpack to the summit and your reward!

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Aug 4, 2019
Chris Leonetti
Jul 23, 2018
Nick Hoernle
Great climb. Summited at 10am after a 3h departure. Glissading on the way down was excellent. 13.6mi

Trail Ratings

  4.6 from 14 votes


  4.6 from 14 votes
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68 Views Last Month
3,768 Since Sep 10, 2017



Camping at Lunch Counter the night before ascending Mt Adams
Apr 7, 2018 near White S…, WA
Mount Adams south climb trail
Jul 16, 2018 near White S…, WA
View of Pikers Peak from the lower section of the trailhead
Sep 11, 2017 near White S…, WA
Coming up from lunch counter
Nov 17, 2017 near White S…, WA

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