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Gotchen Creek

South Cascades


South Cascades -- Mount Adams Area
View map below


2.9 miles, one-way


Gain: 1000 ft.
Highest Point: 4600 ft.


2.75 out of 5

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WTA worked here: 2021

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

Northwest Forest Pass

Gotchen Creek Trail is a 2.9-mile, high-elevation, single-track in the middle of Gotchen Meadows, south of Mount Adams and the Mount Adams Wilderness.

This trail intersects with Cold Springs Trail (#72) and Morrison Creek Trail (#39) and crosses Hole-in-the-Ground Creek. Most hikers combine Gotchen Creek Trail with these two others to form a loop.

From north to south the trail begins on Forest Road 8040, climbs McDonald Ridge then descends, passing the two mentioned trail intersections. The highly porous soil and pumice holds no water and the only signs of erosion come from cows which have grazed this open range since 1912. In certain places Andesite rock makes up the trail.

The track ends in the south near a livestock corral on Forest Road 8020. Gotchen Meadows is the driest part of Mount Adams. Along this route there are no streams save a small creek. Bring plenty of water. WTA crews worked to improve this obscure trail in 2021.

Historically the meadow and trail are named for the Gotchen family—sheepherders from eastern Oregon who traveled here each summer to graze their flocks. That changed in 1972 when adjacent lands were returned to the Yakama Nation.

Gotchen Meadows is recovering from three burns. The Cascade Creek Fire in 2012 was the largest fire in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest since 1927 and the largest on Mount Adams since at least 1885. Two other burns on either side of the Morrison Creek basin were the 2008 Cold Springs Fire and the 2015 Cougar Complex Fire.

These natural events have left the meadow with little forest canopy and large tracts of bunchgrass and black snags. As of 2021 the forest is returning with saplings of ponderosa pine, western white pine, and Douglas Fir widely dispersed.


Gotchen Creek

Map & Directions

Co-ordinates: 46.1211, -121.5148 Open map in new window


South Cascades -- Mount Adams Area

Gotchen Creek (#40)

Gifford Pinchot National Forest, Mount Adams Ranger District

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Guidebooks & Maps

Green Trails No. 367S Mount Adams

Buy the Green Trails Mt Adams No. 367S map

Getting There

From Trout Lake, WA, head north on Mount Adams Road, toward Mount Adams. Turn left onto Forest Road 80. After 3.7 miles, turn right onto Forest Road 8040. Stay on 8040, and after 4.7 miles, arrive at the trailhead. There is primitive parking for 4 cars 500 yards west of the trailhead. It is easy to miss the trailhead in a car as there is no pull out by the trailhead and the sign is set back from the road. Camping at Morrison Creek Campground is 3 miles ahead.

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

Northwest Forest Pass

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Gotchen Creek

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