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  Great Washington Getaways Home  |  Mt. Adams Area Lakes
Mt. Adams
Mt. Adams ia a favorite among hikers, climbers, hunters, campers, berry pickers and anglers seeking trout. Photo by Jim Cummins
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Local Attractions
  Mt. St. Helens Ranger District
  Cowlitz Valley Ranger District
  Mt. Adams Ranger District
  Gifford Pinchot National Forest
  Mt. Adams Wilderness Area
  Trapper Creek Wilderness
  Indian Heaven Wilderness
  Pacific Crest National Trail
  Takhlakh Lake Campground
  Goose Lake USFS Campground
  WDFW Region 5 High Lakes Stocking Schedule
  Skamania County Chamber of Commerce
  Destination Packwood Association
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Mt. Adams high mountain trout adventure
Standing 12,281 feet above sea level, in the wildest part of Washington’s South Cascades, Mt. Adams is second only to Mt. Rainier for the title of the state’s tallest mountain. It’s a favorite among hikers, climbers, hunters, campers, berry pickers and anglers seeking trout.

The volcano itself is sacred to the Indian tribes of the Yakama Nation, which owns much of its eastern slope, but the rest of Mt. Adams and its adjoining highlands lie within the Mt. St. Helens, Cowlitz Valley and Mt. Adams ranger districts of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, named for the first chief of the U.S. Forest Service.

The Mt. Adams District includes three wilderness areas – Mt. Adams, Trapper Creek and Indian Heaven – that offer non-motorized backpacking and angling. It also includes vast roadless and roaded landscapes with plenty of drive-up camping and fishing opportunities, and similar options also exist in the other two ranger districts.

Three drive-up camping-and-fishing combos in this area – Takhlakh, Council and Goose lakes – are described here, and many more opportunities exist. These lakes offer excellent tent-camping and RV accommodations, along with strong populations of good-sized trout.

Hiking is a top attraction in the Mt. Adams area

An obvious attraction within the Mt. Adams Ranger District  is the popular climb to the top of the mountain, but many other miles of day-hike and backpacking trails are available, including a portion of the Pacific Crest Trail. Hiking options exist for people of all fitness levels, but anyone attempting Mt. Adams’ summit must be highly fit, must procure a permit, and must be versed in alpine climbing and safety strategies in a dangerous and constantly changing environment. Climbing is always potentially dangerous, but Mt. Adams is less technical and statistically safer than 14,411-foot Mt. Rainier.

Takhlakh Lake is true postcard country

Takhlakh Lake
Takhlakh Lake is planted with catchable rainbows every summer and holds populations of cutthroat, brown and brook trout. Photo by John Weinheimer

The words “sublime,” “indescribable,” and “gorgeous” fail to capture the beauty of Takhlakh Lake, whose views of Mt. Adams rival any postcard or picture of the Cascades. Only 36 acres in size, Takhlakh (TOCK-a-lock) receives strong plantings of good-sized catchable rainbows every summer after its late June or early July access opening. The lake also holds populations of cutthroat, brown and brook trout. Takhlakh doesn’t typically ice out until late spring, and forest roads leading to the lake usually aren’t snow-free until early summer – two reasons for the late opening of the Forest Service’s popular Takhlakh Lake Campground. The fishing starts out hot and remains so throughout the summer. The campground has 46 tent sites and 53 RV sites, accepting reservations and providing a boat launch for small craft. Only electric motors are allowed.

Nearby and slightly larger Council Lake is an great destination on its own, and a fine alternative if Takhlakh’s 54 campsites are full. Council features rainbow, brook and brown trout and a smaller, more rustic – and free – Forest Service campground. Come prepared to deal with sometimes-thick mosquitoes at both lakes and elsewhere in the forest, which remains buggy until the first frosts of the fall.

Goose Lake is another popular destination

Goose Lake provides good fishing all summer. Photo by Buzz Ramsey

Goose Lake, one of the most popular lakes near Mt. Adams, is similarly snowbound until late spring. As at other lakes in the area, fishing is good through the summer due to strong plants of catchable brown, rainbow and coastal cutthroat trout.

Goose Lake occupies 78 acres north of Carson and includes the Forest Service’s Goose Lake Campground, with 18 sites and a modest boat launch best suited to small boats, float tubes, pontoons, and cartoppers. Only electric motors are allowed.

Anglers typically find success at Goose and other Mt. Adams-area lakes by casting spinners, spoons, flies and bait. Trolling is also popular, especially dragging wet flies – damselflies, Woolly Buggers, Carey Specials, small leeches and small Muddler Minnows – behind full-sinking fly lines.

Plenty of opportunities for hike-in fishing

Many backcountry lakes throughout the ranger district offer good hike-in fishing opportunities, and Indian Heaven Wilderness is especially popular for its mix of easy and more difficult hikes to lakes stocked with trout. The 21,000-acre wilderness is located in the highlands between Mt. Adams and the Columbia River Gorge, and features 42 miles of trails and more than 150 small lakes. It is sacred to indigenous people who still gather edibles, especially huckleberries, from its revered berry patches.

The Gifford Pinchot National Forest also features numerous drive-up and hike-in fishing options. Opportunities for small stream angling exists in each of the three ranger districts, but the multitude of easily accessible, fish-bearing lakes presents the best fishing opportunities near Mt. Adams, along with excellent camping.

The Skamania County Chamber of Commerce and Destination Packwood Association have more information about the area, its activities, scenic drives and more.