Mt. Adams – Bird Creek Meadows

After staring at Mt. Adams for the better part of four days during our Goat Rocks trip we were off to that very mountain for the very first time. Our plans included visits to Crooked Creek Falls, Bird Creek Meadows, and Iceberg Lake on the SE flank of Mt. Adams. We had a couple of possible starting points but based on the description given of the access roads we chose to begin on the South Climb Trail. http://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/giffordpinchot/recarea/?recid=31934
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Although the parking lot was crowded we didn’t see anyone on the trail as we climbed up toward the Round-the-Mountain Trail which we would follow to Bird Creek Meadows. The South Climb Trail passes through a forest burned in 2008. We had occasional views of Mt. Adams ahead and Mt. St. Helens to the west.
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When we reached the junction with the Round-the-Mountain Trail we turned right and began seeing more green trees.
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This section of the trail was fairly dry with scattered flowers here and there before crossing the Aiken Lava Flow.
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The wildflowers started to increase as we approached the wilderness boundary with the Yakima Indian Reservation. Green meadows also replaced the sandy dirt that had covered much of the ground on the earlier section.
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Things got really colorful as soon as we were on the Reservation.
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In the next half mile the trail crossed several streams including Crooked Creek and through a number of widflower meadows before reaching a trail junction.
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At the trail junction was the Bird Lake Trail and a pointer for Crooked Creek Falls.
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We followed the trail down a short distance to find the falls. The falls were very pretty with paintbrush filled meadows on either side as they spilled over a rocky shelf.
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After viewing the falls we returned to the Round-the-Mountain Trail and continued another scenic .8 miles to the beginning of the Bird Creek Meadows Loop.
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We turned up the Trail of Flowers and began to climb. There were some flowers along the trail but it was wildlife that stole the show as we spotted a variety of creatures including several grouse which made us jump when they took flight from the undergrowth.

Two of the grouse flying low along the trail ahead.
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At the crest of the loop was a sign for the Hellroaring Viewpoint. We turned off the loop here and headed uphill toward the viewpoint. Clouds had begun to gather over the mountain but we could still see most of it.
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Wildflowers grew along the trail before giving way to the viewpoint.
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The Hellroaring Viewpoint looks out across a valley where Hellroaring Creek comes crashing down from the Mazama Glacier to the Ridge of Wonders.
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To reach Iceberg Lake we continued on a path leading up the ridge from the viewpoint. Sometimes it was easy to see while at other times we followed rock cairns and orange paint across rock and snowfields.
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The path eventually climbed up the moraine that held back Iceberg Lake.
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The scenery at the lake was vastly different than that of the meadows below. The color of the water was beautiful and we could hear the ice cracking above on the mountain as we rested from the climb.
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After a brief break we headed back down to the Trail of Flowers and continued on the loop. This section of loop had better wildflowers than the earlier one.
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Once we had completed the loop we retraced our steps along the Round-the-Mountain Trail back to the South Climb Trail. Several groups of climbers were now descending that trail. One final look at Mt. Adams showed the clouds had remained mostly on the SE side of the mountain.
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It had been a long day but well worth the time to visit a new wilderness. It is now another place we will need to explore more in the future. Happy Trails.

Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/9319235@N02/sets/72157646167148139/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10204732405377187.1073741901.1448521051&type=1

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