Takhlakh Lake & Takh Takh Meadow

Location: Gifford Pinchot, Mt. Adams
Roundtrip: 3 miles
Difficulty: Easy
Gain: 100 ft.
Rating: ★★★

If you’re camping at the Takhlakh Lake Campground, you’re in luck! You can leave the car there and start hiking right out of the campground.

If you’re not staying at the campground you can pass the campground’s entrance and travel about 1/4 mile farther down the road before parking where trail #132 crosses over. There is limited parking here, but doing so will avoid the $5 day-use fee for parking at the campground. Just make sure you display your Forest or Interagency Pass!

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When both trails are hiked together they form something like an odd figure 8.

While on the Takhlakh Lake trail you’ll pretty much be walking through the campground, though you are set apart from the campsites. The view of Mount Adams across the lake is worth it.

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Be mindful not to get mixed up between the trail and the social paths that have been cut near the meadows. It’s easy to continue along the edge of the lava formation and leave the real trail behind.

If you find yourself at a near dead-end like section of the trail that looks “straight up” you’ve gone too far. Only extraordinarily nimble trekkers will brave scrambling this hill – but it is doable.

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If you caught the right junction the trail should hug the meadow a bit before crossing back over the road. You’ll spend the next section of the loop traversing a lovely forest before returning to where you began, whether that be the road or campground.

F.Q.A.

Are There Toilets? : Yes. There are vault toilets available in the day use section of Takhlakh Campground. If you’re not staying at the campground and you didn’t pay the fee you’ll have to let it way on your conscience though.

How about Picnic Tables? : Yes, they can also be found in the day use area.

Do I Need a Parking Pass? : Yes. If you park on the road you’ll want to display a Forest or Interagency Pass, but if you park in the day use area you’ll need to pay the $5 fee.

Are Dogs Allowed? : Yes.

Can We Camp Here? : Yes! This trail runs through the Takhlakh Lake Campground.

When is the Best Time to Visit? : Late spring and summer are the best times to visit. Keep in mind that the campgrounds typically close the first week of September.

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Steamboat Mountain

Location: Gifford Pinchot, Mt. Adams
Roundtrip: 2 miles
Difficulty: Moderate
Gain: 700 ft.
Rating: ★★★★★

Steamboat Mountain is, surprisingly, not an overused trail; despite its short length and amazing views, you’re not likely to see more than a few other hikers.

I have two theories as to why this trail seems to lack the popularity it deserves: the first of which is the road to the trailhead.

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The road up to the Steamboat Mountain trailhead has its fair share of gravel and dirt. That being said, it is passable for vehicles with only 2WD and a lower clearance. There is a drainage ditch that runs along the right side of the road for a bit, but if you keep to the left you’ll be able to make it through.

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My second theory as to why this trail isn’t more popular is the gain to length ratio. You’ll be climbing at least 700 feet within the span of a mile – which is a moderate hike in its own right. However, the bright side is that this trail hosts an abundance of thick huckleberry bushes.

Visit this trail in the late summer and you can plan on stopping often to snack on some of the best huckleberries in the Cascades. This is a wonderful distraction from the elevation gain. Just don’t forget to bring a bucket!

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Once you make it to the end of the trail your hard work will be rewarded with wondrous views of some of the largest mountains in Washington state. The most prominent of which will be Mt. Adams, but if you’re lucky you’ll be able to see Mount Rainier and Mount Saint Helens as well. Make sure you hold on to the little ones as you peek over the edge and back down at the parking area to take a look at the car!

 

F.Q.A.

Are There Toilets? : No. Make sure to stop at the Mt. Adams Ranger Station on the way!

How about Picnic Tables? : Nope. Eat at the car before heading up the trail or bring snacks. Just remember, if you pack it in you should pack it out!

Do I Need a Parking Pass? : Yes. You’ll use your Discovery Pass here.

Are Dogs Allowed? : Yes! Be considerate of others and make sure your pets are always nearby and under control.

Can We Camp Here? : Peterson Prarie, Takhlakh Lake, Lower Falls, and Adams Fork are all great options.

When is the Best Time to Visit? : mid to late summer.

Donations

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Takhlakh Lake Campground

Takhlakh Lake Campground is one of the best-kept secrets in western Washington. It boasts some amazing views of Mt. Adams, a lake that’s perfect for water play, and is remote enough even for the pickiest of stargazers.

Location: Gifford Pinchot National Forest
Rating: ★★★★(.5)
Price: $18 Single, $30 Double
Extra Parking: $9 per Vehicle
Online Reservations: Yes,  Reserve Here!
Max Length: 22 ft.
Hookups: None
Restrooms: Vault Toilets Only
Potable Water: No

Be warned, the last few miles to the campground consists of one lane and gravel roads. While this can be a touch rough, its accessible for almost all vehicles; even considering this, the trip will be well worth the drive!

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There is no potable water anywhere near the campground. Forgot to pack some? If you don’t have a filter handy that’s going to be at least a 45-minute drive to the nearest town (Randle).

The campground host will occasionally have firewood for sale ($6 per bundle), but this should be a backup source of wood. They often sell out and there’s no guarantee they’ll be selling.

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There are plenty of vault toilets available and they’re surprisingly clean…. for vault toilets that is. Please remember to help keep them that way by lowering the seat and closing the door when finished!

There are drains throughout the campground that are designed for the disposal of wastewater from cooking and general clean up but don’t expect any accommodations for RVs. There are no hookups and no waste stations; in fact, the sites have a maximum length of 22 feet (including the car) so it’s a great place to bring the tents.

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Fire rings with cooking grates and sturdy picnic tables are included with every site, and many sites even have direct access to the lake via a walking path.

Don’t expect to get lonely! This campground books early and fast. If you don’t get an early reservation keep an eye out for cancelations.

Donations

Help support The Northwest Quest by donating today!

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