High Camp Trail is a mountaineers route that climbs a rocky, volcanic spur ridge linked to the North Cleaver Climb Route on the north side of Mount Adams. The trail is narrow, winding through stunted white-bark pines, skirting around a cliff, passing a series of small meadows, and making an uphill push in a series of short, rocky switchbacks. The trail becomes a bit of a scramble in places. The final pitch traverses an exposed talus slope above a permanent snowfield to level off at the plain holding High Camp.
The hulking mass of Mount Adams demands your attention, but you also can enjoy distant views of Mount Rainier, Mount St. Helens and the Goat Rocks and look across hundreds of square miles of forested ridges and valleys to the north and west. Sunsets are frequently breathtaking. Like most timberline locations, however, High Camp is very exposed to the weather. The bent white-barked pine trees, called krummholz, attest to the strong winds that are nearly constant here and provide little shelter for backpackers.
Campsites are tucked into flat spots among the trees. Water is available either from seasonal snowmelt creeks or lingering snow patches. Late in the summer, water sources may dry up.
The trail ends at High Camp. If you decide to explore higher on the moraines and old lava flows, or make your way to the base of Adams Glacier, be sure to carry navigation aids so you can find your way back across this open, rugged terrain if the clouds move in.
WTA Pro Tip: Obtain a Cascade Volcano Pass ahead of time if you plan to hike above 7,000 feet. You can purchase the pass in advance at Recreation.gov or at the Killen Creek Trail No. 113 trailhead. If you're wanting to camp on a summer weekend, avoid the crowds by visiting High Camp but going someplace else to camp either northeast on the Pacific Crest Trail towards Killen Creek Meadows or southeast on the Pacific Crest Trail towards Adams Creek.