Our first backpacking trip of the year was over Memorial Day weekend (post) but since then we hadn’t had an opportunity to break out our tent. Sleeping Beauty, a 3 mile featured hike in Sullivan’s “100 Hikes/Travel Guide Northwest Oregon & Southwest Washington” (4th edition), gave us a reason to put the tent to use again.
It wasn’t because the hike to the top of Sleeping Beauty was backpackable, but rather the 2:45 drive time to the trailhead was too long for this to be a stand alone hike for us. To make the trip worth the drive we decided to continued to nearby Mt. Adams and do a hike to Foggy Flat from Matt Reeder’s “PDX Hiking 365” guidebook.
We began our trip by driving to Trout Lake, WA then continued on to the Sleeping Beauty Trailhead.
The trail climbed steeply up through a green forest for a mile to a forested saddle. Most of the flowers had passed but a few lingered and the pearly everlasting was getting started. Thimbleberries weren’t quite ripe but we did find a few strawberries to snack on.
Pearly everlasting next to thimbleberry bushes.
Not quite ready yet.
Near the saddle we got our first look at the rock feature that is Sleeping Beauty from the trail (it is visible on the drive).
The trail bends to the right (ignore a fainter trail heading left) at the saddle continuing through the trees.
Another bit of climbing brought us beneath the rocks.
The trail switchbacked its way up amid the rocks up stonework ramps gaining views of the surrounding Cascade mountains along the way.
Goat Rocks (post) to the left beyond Mt. Adams
Looking down at some of the switchbacks.
Mt. St. Helens in the distance.
The top of Mt. Rainier.
Mt. Hood to the South.
Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Rainier, Goat Rocks and Mt. Adams.
Indian Heaven Wilderness
It was fairly windy up on the rocks, just windy enough to make us a little nervous when we got to the saddle near the top as we had to push back a bit against it. Luckily the top is fairly wide and there was a least one place behind a rock where the wind was non-existent.
Looking east over the top of Sleeping Beauty.
Looking west to the true summit where a lookout once stood.
We were hoping to see a mountain goat as they do live here but alas we only saw some fur on a rock and a couple of bushes. The views would have to do and they did just fine. I scrambled over to the former lookout site after deciding it looked safe enough while Heather waited at the saddle.
Mt. Hood from the foundation of the former lookout.
After a good long time exploring the area and enjoying the views we headed back down. We passed several groups of hikers heading up (just about everyone had a mask) so we were once again glad we’d gotten the early start to have the top to ourselves.
From the trailhead we drove back to Trout Lake and turned left onto Mount Adams Road aka Forest Road 23. (Google would have had us continue on the forest road we had been on to reach the Killen Creek Trailhead, but Google doesn’t always know the condition of the Forest Roads and I don’t either so we played it safe.)
We then followed Reeder’s direction to the Killen Creek Trailhead stopping along the way when Heather spotted a nice waterfall on Big Spring Creek.
Sign at a pullout along FR 23.
These were huge yellow monkeyflowers.
Big Spring Creek
After the brief stop we drove on. The final 9 miles on FR 23 was gravel but wide and not too bad. We turned off of the gravel onto the narrow, paved FR 2329 which was a nice break, but beyond the turn for Takhalakh Lake Campground this road also turned to gravel. It was not in the best condition and was fairly narrow and busy which made for a bit of a tedious final 6 miles to the Killen Creek Trailhead.
After attempting some gear repair (a hole in some clothing) we set off and quickly entered the Mt. Adams Wilderness.
This was only our third visit to the wilderness with our first having been a hike from the South Climb Trailhead to Iceberg Lake in 2014 (post) and the second an overnight stay at Horseshoe Meadows in 2017 (post). (Apparently this is an every three year thing.)
The Killen Creek Trail climbed through the forest where we were pleased to find quite a few flowers were blooming. Little did we know what was coming.
Lupine along the trail.
More lupine along the trail.
Partridge foot and lupine.
Lupine, paintbrush and valerian.
Lupine along the trail which sees a good amount of equestrian use.
As we continued to climb the number and types of flowers we were seeing kept increasing.
Yellow buttercups mixed in with the lupine, paintbrush and valerian.
Beardstongue, arnica and lupine.
Approximately 2.5 miles up the trail the flowers really started to explode as the trail began to level out a bit.
Over the next mile we gained views of Mt. Adams and crossed a small alpine stream all while being mesmerized by the flowers.
Elephants head near the stream.
Elephants head and a shooting star.
As we gained elevation we also began to get glimpses of Mt. Rainier to the NW.
The views and flowers just kept getting better as we went.
False hellebore amid the lupine.
Paintbrush framed by trees.
After a little over 3.25 miles the Killen Creek Trail ended at the Pacific Crest Trail.
We had been to this junction in 2017 when we had hiked the PCT north from Horseshoe Meadows. We had continued a few hundred feet before realizing that Killen Creek was still almost a mile away. This time we would be hiking beyond Killen Creek and so we turned left on the PCT and continued on.
Where the Killen Creek Trail was heading for Mt. Adams the PCT was bending around the mountain. This made for more up and down hiking as opposed to steady climbing. Mt. Adams occasionally made an appearance over our right shoulders and the flowers continued to be amazing.
White and pink mountain heather, paintbrush and lupine above the PCT.
Coming in for a landing on groundsel.
The Goat Rocks was soon fully visible between us and Mt. Rainier.
A little under a mile from the Killen Creek Trail junction the PCT began a descent to Killen Creek Meadows.
Aster and white seed heads
There were a couple of small ponds still holding water in the meadows and we noticed a lot of ripples in the water as we approached.
It turned out to be pollywogs, and a lot of them.
The PCT crossed Killen Creek on a footbridge just above a waterfall.
Killen Creek and Mt. Adams.
There was a steep path down on this side of the falls but it looked like the PCT might have a good view of it on the other side of the creek so we opted not to head down. We figured the worst case scenario was that there wouldn’t be a view and we could just go down on the way back out.
As we started to cross the bridge we noticed something in the creek nearby, it was an ouzel.
There wasn’t a great view of the waterfall on the other side.
The waterfall from the PCT.
The PCT descended to a lower meadow where a trail led out to a campsite and another possible vantage point for the waterfall but the view was obscured so we put it on the to do list for the next day.
From Killen Creek it was .2 flower filled miles to a junction with the Highline Trail.
Highline Trail ahead.
Here we left the PCT as it continued on its way to Goat Rocks and beyond and turned up the Highline Trail. Not far from the junction we arrived at an unnamed lake with a reflection of Mt. Adams.
The wildflowers had been impressive thus far but the Highline Trail took it up a notch.
Yellow arnica along the trail.
Beargrass in full bloom.
Subalpine mariposa lily
After a total of 1.7 miles on this trail we arrived at another junction. This time it was the Muddy Meadows Trail.
Look more lupine that way.
We continued on the Highline Trail another mile before reaching Foggy Flat, a wet meadow near an unnamed creek.
Still tons of flowers.
Frog near Foggy Flat
Mt. Adams from Foggy Flat
Frog in a little stream at Foggy Flat.
We walked along the meadow to the far end where the creek was located looking for tent sites. There was one occuppied site along the trail across from the meadow but that was about all we saw at first.
The Highline Trail crossed the creek on a footbridge but then launched steeply uphill so we turned around and decided to check around the meadow more thoroughly for a suitable site.
We are fairly picky about our campsites. We do not like to camp on any vegetation, especially in meadows and we do our best to maintain a proper distance from water and trails. Unfortunately we are in the minority and it was obvious from the fire rings and smashed grasses that many others aren’t as selective (not to mention the TP – come on people). We finally managed to find an acceptable spot tucked into some trees.
With camp established we took our daypacks out put our essentials plus dinner and the stove into them and set off across the creek on the Highline Trail. Reeder described the trail beyond Foggy Flat as having “incredible views” but also “difficult creek crossings”. Our plan was to go as far as the Muddy Fork crossing and unless it looked really easy turn back there.
Monkeyflower and willowherb along the creek.
The climb up from the creek was indeed steep and we were happy to just have our daypacks on.
Mt. Rainier behind us.
The trail dropping steeply behind us on one of the steeper sections.
We passed several nice campsites as the terrain became more level at the edge of a lava flow. A couple of the sites were occupied. Despite the rockier conditions due to the lava flow the flower show continued.
Can you spot the yellow paintbrush?
Shortly after crossing another little creek we found ourselves in the lava field with an excellent view of Mt. Adams. We had been waiting for the clouds to break up all day and now they were starting to oblige.
We continued to follow the Highline Trail through the lava and past snow fields.
The lava also provided great views of Mt. Rainier and Goat Rocks.
Goat Creek falling from Goat Lake.
Red Butte and Mt. Adams
Red Butte, a neat looking cinder cone.
Flower amid the rocks.
We did indeed stop at Muddy Fork. It was a little more of a crossing than we wanted to tackle at that point.
We backed track a bit to rise where we had seen a great looking spot for dinner (or a tent). We cooked our dinner there and then explored a bit on the ridge above the spot where we found a few flowers amid the rocks and more amazing views.
We eventually headed back to Foggy Flat under the watchful eyes of the locals.
We were momentarily distracted below one of the snow fields as we watched a stream forming in front of our eyes.
Water in the upper portions of the snowmelt stream.
The same stream 3 minutes later.
When the water reached a large hole that would take some time to fill we managed to pull ourselves away and continue back to our campsite. We stopped at the creek to get water for the next day and turned in fairly quickly. There were just enough mosquitoes about to be a nuisance making the confines of the tent that much more appealing.
Combining this hike with our previous two visits we’ve managed to cover quite a bit of the trails that wrap around the mountain. The east side of Mt. Adams is on part of the Yakima Indian Reservation and is largely trail less. Special permits are required to enter the Reservation with the exception of Bird Creek Meadows on the SE side of the mountain.
From every angle that we’ve seen it Mt. Adams continues to impress us. It’s truly a special place. Happy Trails!