Mount Adams (Washington)
Mount Adams from the west-northwest
|Elevation||12,281 ft (3,743 m) NAVD 88|
|Prominence||8,116 ft (2,474 m)|
|Location||Yakima County / Skamania County, Washington, U.S.|
|Topo map||USGS Mount Adams East|
|Age of rock||Less than 275,000 years|
|Volcanic arc||Cascade Volcanic Arc|
|Last eruption||About 950 CE|
|First ascent||1854 by A.G. Aiken and party|
|Easiest route||South Climb Trail #183|
Mount Adams is a potentially active stratovolcano in the Cascade Range. It is the second-highest mountain in the U.S. state of Washington, trailing only Mount Rainier. Adams is a member of the Cascade Volcanic Arc, and is one of the arc's largest volcanoes, located in a remote wilderness approximately 31 miles (50 km) east of Mount St. Helens. The Mount Adams Wilderness comprises the upper and western part of the volcano's cone. The eastern side of the mountain is part of the Yakama Nation.
Adams' asymmetrical and broad body rises 1.5 miles (2.4 km) above the Cascade crest. Its nearly flat summit was formed as a result of cone-building eruptions from separated vents. Air travelers flying the busy routes above the area sometimes confuse Mount Adams with nearby Mount Rainier, which has a similar flat-topped shape.
- 1 Geography
- 2 Recreation
- 3 Geology
- 4 History
- 5 Wilderness and wildlife
- 6 See also
- 7 References
- 8 Further reading
- 9 External links
Contrary to legend, the flatness of Adams' current summit area is not due to the loss of the volcano's peak. Instead it was formed as a result of cone-building eruptions from separated vents. A false summit rises 11,500 feet (3,510 m) on the south side of the nearly half-mile (800 m) wide summit area. The true summit is about 800 feet (240 m) higher on the gently sloping north side. A small lava cone marks the highest point. Suksdorf Ridge is a long buttress trending from the false summit down to an elevation of 8,000 feet (2,440 m). This structure was built by repeated lava flows in the late Pleistocene. The Pinnacle forms the northwest false summit and was created by erosion from Adams and White Salmon glaciers. The summit crater is filled with snow and is open on its west rim. On a clear day from the summit, other visible volcanoes in the Cascade Range include Mount Rainier to the north, Mount Hood and Mount Jefferson to the south in Oregon, and Mount Saint Helens to the west.
Glaciers cover a total of 2.5% of Adams' surface but during the last ice age about 90% of the mountain was glaciated. Mount Adams has 209 perennial snow and ice features and 12 officially named glaciers. The total ice-covered area makes up 24 km2, while the area of actual named glaciers is 20 km2. Most of the largest remaining glaciers (including the Adams, Klickitat, Lyman, and White Salmon) originate from Adams' summit ice cap. On the northwest face of the mountain, Adams Glacier cascades down a steep channel in a series of icefalls before spreading out and terminating at around the 7,000 feet (2,100 m) elevation, where it becomes the source of Adams Creek, a tributary of the Cispus River. Its eastern lobe ends at a small glacial tarn, Equestria Lake. Klickitat Glacier on the volcano's eastern flank originates in a 1 mile (1.6 km) wide cirque and is fed by two smaller glaciers from the summit ice cap. It terminates around 6,600 feet (2,000 m), where it becomes the source of Big Muddy Creek, a tributary of the Klickitat River. In the Cascades, Adams Glacier is second in size only to Carbon Glacier on Mount Rainier.
The Pinnacle, White Salmon, and Avalanche glaciers on the west side of the mountain are less thick and voluminous, and are patchy in appearance. They all originate from glacial cirques below the actual summit. The south side of the mountain along Suksdorf Ridge is moderately glacier-free, with the only glaciers being the relatively small Gotchen Glacier and the Crescent Glacier. The south side, however, does have some perennial snowfields on its slopes. The rugged east side has four glaciers, the Mazama Glacier, Klickitat Glacier, Rusk Glacier, and the Wilson Glacier. During the last Ice Age, they carved out two immense canyons: the Hellroaring Canyon and the Avalanche Valley. The north side is distinguished by three major glaciers, the Adams, Lava, and Lyman Glaciers. Both the Adams and Lyman Glaciers are characterized by deep crevasses and many icefalls as they cascade down from the summit ice cap. The Lava Glacier originates in a large cirque below the summit, sandwiched between the North Cleaver on the east and the Adams Ridge to the west.
The total glacier area on Mount Adams decreased 49%, from 12.2 square miles (31.5 km2) to 6.3 square miles (16.2 km2), between 1904 and 2006.
Mount Adams is surrounded by a variety of other volcanic features and volcanoes. The largest flank volcano is a basaltic shield volcano on Adams east base called Goat Butte. This structure is at least 150,000 years old.
Potato Hill is a cinder cone on Adams' north side that was created in the late Pleistocene and stands 800 feet (240 m) above its lava plain. Lavas from its base flowed into the Cispus Valley where they were later modified by glaciers. At the 7,500 feet (2,300 m) level on Adams' south flank is South Butte. The lavas associated with this structure are all younger than Suksdorf Ridge but were emplaced before the end of the ice age.
Located a few miles north of Adams is Goat Rocks Wilderness and the heavily eroded ruins of a stratovolcano that is much older than Adams. Unlike Adams, the Goat Rocks volcano was periodically explosive and deposited ash 2.5 million years ago that later solidified into 2,100-foot (640 m) thick tuff layers.
In the area surrounding Mount Adams, many underground caves have formed around inactive lava vents. These caves are usually close to the surface and can be hundreds of feet deep and wide.
The Highline trail encircles Mount Adams and is approximately 35 miles (56 km) long. The trail is also known as the "Around the Mountain" trail. An 8-mile (13 km) section of the trail is on the Yakama Indian Reservation, which requires special permits. Part of the Highline trail is coincident with the Pacific Crest Trail.
Like many other Cascade volcanoes, Mount Adams offers many recreational activities, including mountain climbing, hiking and backpacking, berry picking, camping, boating, fishing, rafting, photography, wildlife viewing, and scenic driving among other things.
Each year, hundreds of outdoorsmen try to summit Mount Adams. Crampons and ice axes are needed on many routes because of the glaciers and how steep they are. The biggest hazard is the loose rocks and boulders which are easily dislodged and a severe hazard for climbers below. Climbing Mount Adams can be dangerous for a variety of reasons and people do die in pursuit of the summit.
The 46,353-acre Mount Adams Wilderness along the west slope of Mount Adams offers hikers an abundance of hiking opportunities. Trails in the wilderness pass through dry east-side and moist-west side forests, offering spectacular views of Mt. Adams and its glaciers, tumbling streams, open alpine forests, parklands, and a variety of wildflowers speckled among lava flows and rimrocks.
Hiking in the Mount Adams Wilderness
Many trails access the Round the Mountain trail. On the south, The Shorthorn Trail leaves from near the Morrison Creek Campground and the South Climb Trail starts as Cold Springs Campground and heads up the South Spur, a popular climbing route to the summit. On the west side, there are three trails going up: the Stagman Ridge Trail, Pacific Crest Trail, and the Riley Creek Trail. On the north side are the Divide Camp, Killen Creek, Muddy Meadows trails, and again the Pacific Crest Trail as it heads down the mountain. These trails generally gain between 1,500 feet (460 m) and 3,000 feet (910 m) in between 3 miles (4.8 km) and 6 miles (9.7 km). Trails are mostly snow-covered from early winter until early summer. Other popular trails in the Mount Adams Wilderness include the Lookingglass Lake Trail, High Camp Trail #10, Salt Creek Trail #75, Crofton Butte Trail #73, and the Riley Connector Trail #64A.
Hiking in the Mount Adams Recreation Area
On the southeast side of the mountain, the Mount Adams Recreation Area features Bird Creek Meadows, a popular picnic and hiking area noted for its outstanding display of wildflowers, and exceptional views of Mount Adams and its glaciers, as well as Mount Hood to the south. Hikers can access the Hellroaring Overlook, where they can view Hellroaring Meadows, a glacial valley about 1,000 feet (300 m) down from the viewpoint precepe. From here, hikers can gaze gaze up 5,800 feet (1,800 m) at Mount Adams,the Klickitat Glacier, and various waterfalls tumbling off of high cliffs below the glaciers terminus. There are many loop trails at Bird Creek Meadows, including the Trail of the Flowers. Trails travel through meadows, streams, and waterfalls, including Crooked Creek Falls. Little Mount Adams 6,821 ft (2,079 m)is a symmetrical cinder cone on top of the Ridge of Wonders, and rises from the northeast end of Hellroaring Meadow and the Hellroaring Creek valley. It offers a trail to the east base of the peak. To reach the top, hikers must traverse rocky terrain; and if there are, user-made trails.
There are two popular areas on Mount Adams. They are the Midway High Lakes Area and the Yakima Nation Mount Adams Recreation Area. Takhlakh Lake is the most popular place in the Midway High Lakes Area, and Bird Creek Meadows is the most popular area in the Mount Adams Recreation Area.
Midway High Lakes
Campgrounds near Mount Adams are open during the snow-free months of summer. Campgrounds in the area include the Takhlakh Lake Campground, offering views across the lake of Mount Adams; Olallie Lake; Horseshoe Lake; Killen Creek; Council Lake; and Keenes Horse Camp. Adams Fork Campground and Twin Falls Campground are located along the Lewis and Cispus Rivers. Most lakes within the Midway High Lakes Area offers scenic views of Mount Adams and its glaciers. Adams Fork Campground, Cat Creek Campground, and Twin Falls Campground are located nearer to Mount Adams and are just a few of the many campgrounds along the scenic Lewis and Cispus Rivers.
Mount Adams Recreation Area
On the southeast side of the mountain, the Mount Adams Recreation Area offers activities such as hiking, camping, picnicking, and fishing. The area features Bird Creek Meadows, a popular picnic and hiking area noted for its outstanding display of wildflowers, and exceptional views of Mount Adams and its glaciers, as well as Mount Hood to the south.
Bird Creek Meadows, a popular picnic and hiking area noted for its outstanding display of wildflowers, and exceptional views of Mount Adams and its glaciers, as well as Mount Hood to the south. Hikers can access the Hellroaring Overlook, where they can view Hellroaring Meadows, a glacial valley about 1,000 feet (300 m) down from the viewpoint precepe. From here, hikers can gaze gaze up 5,800 feet (1,800 m) at Mount Adams,the Klickitat Glacier, and various waterfalls tumbling off of high cliffs below the glaciers terminus. There are many loop trails at Bird Creek Meadows, including the Trail of the Flowers. Trails travel through meadows, streams, and waterfalls, including Crooked Creek Falls.
Little Mount Adams 6,821 ft (2,079 m)is a symmetrical cinder cone on top of the Ridge of Wonders, and rises from the northeast end of Hellroaring Meadow and the Hellroaring Creek valley. It offers a trail to the east base of the peak. To reach the top, hikers must traverse rocky terrain; and if there are, user-made trails.
There are three campgrounds in the Mount Adams Recreation Area. A campground is located each at Bird Lake, Mirror Lake, and Bench Lake. The area is accessed from Trout Lake via the Mount Adams Recreation Highway, northeast on Forest Road 82, to Forest Road 8225, and on Tribal Route 285 (Bench Lake Road), passing the Bird Creek Meadows Parking Area, and ending at Bench Lake. Bird Lake Road leads off of Bench Lake Road, and heads north to Bird Lake. All of the roads after the short section known as the Mount Adams Recreation Highway is gravel and dirt, and is known to be extremely rough and often only suitable for trucks or high clearance vehicles.
For winter recreation, there are a number of Washington state sno-parks on the south side that are popular with snowmobilers and cross-country skiers. There are three sno-parks on Mount Adams south slope: Snow King, Pineside, and Smith Butte Sno-parks. The south side of the mountain, especially the A.G. Aiken Lava Bed, is especially popular with snowmobilers and skiers. The Mount Adams Recreation Highway is plowed all the way to Pineside and Snow King Sno-parks at about 3,000 feet elevation for most of the year, as long as there is enough money in the forest service's winter budget. Smith Butte Sno-park, at about 4,000 feet, is accessible in low-snow years. Most of the time, the road is not plowed all the way to Snow King. The forest service does this in order to not dry up the forest service's snow-plowing funds.
Adams is made of several overlapping cones that together form an 18-mile (29 km) diameter base which is elongated in its north-south axis and covers an area of 250 square miles (650 km2). The volcano has a volume of 85 cubic miles (350 km3) placing it second only to Mount Shasta in that category among the Cascade stratovolcanoes. Mount Adams was probably created by the subduction of the Juan de Fuca plate, which is located just off the coast of the Pacific Northwest.
Mount Adams was born in the relatively late Pleistocene and grew in several pulses of mostly lava-extruding eruptions. Each eruptive cycle was separated from one another by long periods of dormancy during which glaciers eroded the mountain to below 9,000 feet (2,700 m). Potassium-argon dating has identified two such eruptive periods; the first occurring 275,000 to 200,000 years ago and the second 150,000 to 100,000 years ago. Most of these eruptions and therefore most of the volcano, consist of lava flows with little tephra. The loose material that makes up much of Adams' core is made of brecciated lava.
Andesite and basalt flows formed a 20-to-200-foot (6 to 60 m) thick circle around the base of the Mount Adams, and filled existing depressions and ponded in valleys. Most of the volcano is made of andesite together with handful of dacite and pyroclastic flows which erupted early in Adams' development. The present main cone was built when Adams was capped by a glacier system in the last ice age. The lava that erupted was shattered when it came in contact with the ice and the cone interior is therefore made of easily eroded andesite fragments. Since its construction, constant emissions of heat and caustic gases have transformed much of the rock into clays (mostly kaolinite), iron oxides, sulfur-rich compounds and quartz.
The present eruptive cone above 7,000 feet (2,100 m) was constructed sometime between 25,000 to 10,000 years ago. Since that time the volcano has erupted at least seven times, all of which were above 6,500 feet (1,980 m) on the summit. One of the most recent flows issued from South Butte and created the 4.5-mile (7.2 km) long by 0.5-mile (0.8 km) wide A.G. Aiken Lava Bed. This flow looks young but has 3,500-year-old Mount St. Helens ash on it, meaning it is at least that old. The last lava known to have erupted from Adams are the 2500- to 3500-year-old Muddy Fork lava flows.
The Trout Lake Mudflow is the youngest large debris flow from Adams and the only large one since the end of the last Ice Age. The flow dammed Trout Creek and covered 25 miles (40 km) of the White Salmon River valley. Impounded water later formed Trout Lake. The Great Slide of 1921 started close to the headwall of the White Salmon Glacier and was the largest avalanche on Adams in historic time. The slide fell about 1 mile (1.6 km) and its debris covered about 1 square mile (2.6 km2) of the upper Salt Creek area. Steam vents were reported active at the slide source for three years, leading to speculation that the event was started with a small steam explosion. This was the only debris flow in Mount Adams' recorded history, but there are five known lahars.
Since then, thermal anomalies (hot spots) and gas emissions (including hydrogen sulfide) have occurred especially on the summit plateau and indicate that Adams is dormant, not extinct. Future eruptions from Adams will probably follow patterns set by previous events and will thus be flank lava flows of andesite or basalt. Since the interior of the main cone is little more than a pile of fragmented lava and hydrothermally-altered rock, there is a potential for very large landslides and other debris flows.
The Indian Heaven volcanic field is located between St. Helens and Adams. Its principal feature are an 18-mile (29 km) long linear zone of shield volcanoes, cinder cones, and flows with volumes of up to 23 cubic miles (96 km3). The shield volcanoes, which form the backbone of the volcanic field, are located on the northern and southern sides of the field. Mount St. Helens and Mount Adams are on the western and the eastern sides.
Native Americans in the area have composed many legends concerning the three "smoking mountains" that guard the Columbia River. According to the Bridge of the Gods tale, Wy'east (Mount Hood) and Pahto (Mount Adams; also called Paddo or Klickitat by native peoples) were the sons of the Great Spirit. The brothers both competed for the love of the beautiful La-wa-la-clough (Mount St. Helens). When La-wa-la-clough chose Pahto, Wy'east struck his brother hard so that Pahto's head was flattened and Wy'east took La-wa-la-clough from him (thus attempting to explain Adams' squat appearance). Other versions of the story state that losing La-wa-la-clough caused Pahto such grief that he dropped his head in shame.
In 1805 the Lewis and Clark Expedition recorded seeing the mountain. They misidentified it as Mount St. Helens which had been previously discovered and named. This is the earliest recorded sighting of the volcano by European explorers.
Between 1830 and 1834 Hall J. Kelley led a campaign to rename the Cascade Range as the President's Range and also to rename each major Cascade mountain after a former President of the United States. Mount Adams was not known to Kelley and was thus not in his plan. Mount Hood, in fact, was designated by Kelley to be renamed after President John Adams but a mistake by a mapmaker placed the Mount Adams name north of Mount Hood and about 40 miles (64 km) east of Mount St. Helens. By sheer coincidence there was in fact a large mountain there to receive the name. Since the mountain had no official name at the time, Kelley's name stuck even though the rest of his plan failed. In 1901, local settler and mountaineer C. E. Rusk led noted glaciologist Harry Reid to Adams' remote location. Reid conducted the first systematic study of the volcano and also named its most significant glaciers.
In 1929 and 1931 Wade Dean filed mining claims to the sulfur on Adams' 210-acre (0.8 km2) summit plateau. After building a horse and mule trail, he had a diamond-tipped drilling machine moved to the summit area and test pits were drilled. Although sulfur sludge was found, the amount and quality of the ore was never good enough to make the venture profitable and the project was abandoned in 1959. Adams is the only large Cascade volcano to have its summit exploited by commercial miners.
Wilderness and wildlife
The western side of Mount Adams is in the Mount Adams Wilderness within the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. The east side is part of the Yakama Nation. The wilderness is open to hiking, backpacking, mountain climbing and equestrian sports. A Volcano Pass from the United States Forest Service (USFS) is required for activities above a certain altitude. Some areas of the Yakama Nation are open for recreation, while other areas are open only to members of the tribe.
The Conboy Lake National Wildlife Refuge lies at the base of Mount Adams. The refuge covers 6,500 acres (26 km2) and contains conifer forests, grasslands, and shallow wetlands. Protected wildlife includes deer, elk, beaver, coyote, otter, small rodents, bald eagle, greater sandhill crane, and the Oregon spotted frog.
On the slopes of the mountain, elk are common and wolverines have been sighted.
Big Tree, (also known as Trout Lake Big Tree), is a massive ponderosa pine tree in majestic, old growth pine and fir forests at the southern base of Mount Adams. The tree rises to a lofty 202 feet (62 m) with a diameter of 7 feet (2.1 m), and is one of the largest known ponderosa pine trees in the world.
- Geology of the Pacific Northwest
- High Cascades
- List of highest mountain peaks in Washington
- List of stratovolcanoes
- List of volcanoes in the United States
- Mountain peaks of North America
- Mountain peaks of the United States
- List of Ultras of North America
- List of Ultras of the United States
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Mount Adams (Washington).|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Gifford Pinchot National Forest.|
- "Mount Adams". Geographic Names Information System, U.S. Geological Survey.
- "Adams - Synonyms and Subfeatures". Global Volcanism Program. Smithsonian Institution. Retrieved 2008-08-08.