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Lookingglass Lake via Stagman Ridge Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

The first big meadow on Stagman Ridge (bobcat)
Lookingglass Lake (bobcat)
Subalpine daisies and lupine at Madcat Meadow (bobcat)
Mount Adams from Horseshoe Meadow (bobcat)
Sketch map of the Stagman Ridge lollipop loop (not a GPS track) (bobcat) Courtesy: National Geographic Topo
  • Start point: Stagman Ridge Trailhead
  • Ending Point: Lookingglass Lake
  • Trail Log:
  • Hike Type: Lollipop loop
  • Distance: 10.8 miles
  • Elevation gain: 2415 feet
  • High Point: 6,075 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Seasons: Summer to early Fall
  • Family Friendly: No
  • Backpackable: Yes
  • Crowded: Moderately so


Hike Description

The Stagman Ridge Trail is the alternative approach to the Pacific Crest Trail in accessing two outstanding features on the southwest slope of Mount Adams: Lookingglass Lake and Horseshoe Meadow. It can be done as a day hike or a backpack, with campsites at the lake and the meadow as well as at a few stops along the way. The route described is a lollipop loop using the Graveyard Camp Cutoff (the former route of the Round-the-Mountain Trail). At different points, the trail offers passage through lush meadows, views of Mount Adams itself, and expansive vistas south across the southern Washington Cascades and into Oregon. NOTE: The area of this hike was affected by the 2012 Cascade Creek Fire. The forest at the upper end of the Stagman Ridge Trail, Horseshoe Meadow, and Lookingglass Lake were consumed by the burn. The lower end of the trail has patches of burn. Do the loop counterclockwise as described: since the fire, the cutoff trail is harder to locate coming from Lookingglass Lake.

The trail runs up onto an old road bed and into thick silver fir and Douglas-fir woods punctuated with clearings dominated by bracken and vine maple. The road bed ends at the old trailhead parking area and the path enters a montane woodland of mountain hemlock, silver fir, noble fir, and Engelmann spruce. Here, you also enter the Mt. Adams Wilderness. The track rises along a ridge which drops steeply to the right and then levels in a meadow blooming with aster, goldenrod, and yarrow in late summer. Huckleberry bushes form the understory as you reenter the shady forest. The path soon rises steeply, with some level sections, before rising once more on Grassy Hill. As subalpine fir enters the mix, you will see the top of Mount Adams and pass through more meadows before the trail makes a traverse and heads into shady woods. The tread veers to the left before dropping over to the north side of the ridge and down into a lush bottom. Hop over a boggy creek bed and head through a lush meadow past Bottle Camp before crossing a small creek. Then traverse up through grassy woods and meadows and walk on the level in a lush blueberry flat with a dry creek bed. Amble through a beautiful meadow blooming with lovage and lupine. On a sunny day, this expanse is flitting with butterflies and buzzing with bees. This is also the first great view of Mount Adams. Unfortunately, swarms of mosquitoes are settled in the foliage, so it’s best to stay on trail and avoid stirring them up. From this point, head up and then drop to a creek. The trail makes a sharp left here, but on the right a sign says Graveyard Camp. This is the Stagman Ridge-Graveyard Camp Cutoff Junction.

To do the lollipop loop, go straight, not left on the main trail, and cross the creek to pick up the use trail (0.9 miles) that heads to Lookingglass Lake. Note that this section is more indistinct since the 2012 fire, with numerous trees down: hike it at your own risk! Pass through a lupine meadow, drop to a gully, and then cross three more rocky gullies. You will walk by a campsite and head up, jumping a creek and ascending rather steeply, then stepping across another creek and passing up a boggy area with springs above. Rise to a ridge and drop to cross rushing Cascade Creek on logs that have been placed there. From here, the trail heads up to the Lookingglass Lake-Graveyard Camp Cutoff Trail Junction.

Go right and head down to the lake. There’s a large campsite on the left. Hiking around the lake to the left involves crossing some sensitive bogs, so go right and head to the far end of the lake to get views of Mount Adams and its reflection.

After spending a night, or an hour, or a week at Lookingglass Lake, head back up the trail. Pass the junction with the Graveyard Cutoff. There’s a view to Sleeping Beauty and Lemei Rock. Keep heading up through a lush meadow resplendent with heliotrope, lupine, arnica, and paintbrush. There’s an open area to the left with a view of Mount Saint Helens. Pass through another lush meadow, drop, and cross a big creek. There’s a campsite here to the left. Madcat Meadow is off to the right. Step across a second creek and head up. Note the waterfall above. Negotiate a third creek with a waterfall above. Then find a passage across Cascade Creek, which is full of loose boulders, and head up through meadows and subalpine fir parklands to the Round the Mountain-Lookingglass Lake Trail Junction.

Go left here and cross two gullies as the trail drops. Pass through lush parklands and traverse along the dry nose of a rocky ridge with a panoramic view south to Mount Hood. The scar of the 2011 Dollar Lake Fire is clearly visible. Also catch the view to the Indian Heaven ridge and Sleeping Beauty. Pass over a dry creek bed and then a meadow and head into the expansive Horseshoe Meadow. The high knoll of the Bumper, an excellent scramble opportunity, looms above. From the west end of this open plain, there’s a great view of Mount Adams. Step over a creek on the meadow’s west side, and reach the junction with the Pacific Crest-Round the Mountain Trail Junction.

Go left here and pass through meadow lush with false hellebore, drop, and traverse down the side of a ridge. In summer, these hillsides are redolent of the sweet scent of lupine. Phlox and mountain dandelions also bloom in profusion. Reach the Pacific Crest-Stagman Ridge Trail Junction and go left. Keep dropping to descend a rubbly slope much chewed up by horse traffic. Pass through a wood-rush meadow, make a level traverse and descend some more. Reach the Graveyard Camp junction and head back the way you came.

Fees, Regulations, etc.

  • $2 toll each way at the Hood River Bridge
  • Self-issued Wilderness Permit at the trailhead


  • Maps: Hike Finder
  • Green Trails Maps: Mount Adams, WA #367S
  • Green Trails Maps: Mount Adams West, WA #366
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: Mt. Adams Wilderness, Indian Heaven Wilderness, Trapper Creek Wilderness
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: Mt. Adams Ranger District
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: Gifford Pinchot National Forest
  • National Geographic Trails Illustrated Map: Mount St. Helens - Mt. Adams

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this destination

  • Day Hiking Mount Adams and Goat Rocks by Tami Asars
  • Hiking Washington's Mount Adams Country by Fred Barstad
  • Take a Hike: Portland by Barbara I. Bond
  • 95 Virtual Hikes of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest and the Mt. St. Helens National Volcanic Monument by Northwest Hiker
  • Portland Hikes: Day Hikes in Oregon and Washington Within 100 Miles of Portland by Art Bernstein and Andrew Jackman (does not include the Graveyard Camp Cutoff)
  • Day Hiking: South Cascades by Dan A. Nelson and Alan L. Bauer (route described is a variant with The Bumper as the destination)
  • Day Hike! Columbia Gorge by Seabury Blair, Jr. (route described to Horseshoe Meadow)
  • Exploring Washington's Wild Areas by Marge & Ted Mueller
  • Washington's Columbia River Gorge: Camping & Hiking by Tom Stienstra & Scott Leonard
  • Washington Hikes by Scott Leonard
  • Pacific Northwest Hiking by Scott Leonard & Megan McMorris
  • Hiking the Gifford Pinchot Backcountry by the Columbia Group Sierra Club

More Links

Page Contributors

Oregon Hikers Field Guide is built as a collaborative effort by its user community. While we make every effort to fact-check, information found here should be considered anecdotal. You should cross-check against other references before planning a hike. Trail routing and conditions are subject to change. Please contact us if you notice errors on this page.

Hiking is a potentially risky activity, and the entire risk for users of this field guide is assumed by the user, and in no event shall Trailkeepers of Oregon be liable for any injury or damages suffered as a result of relying on content in this field guide. All content posted on the field guide becomes the property of Trailkeepers of Oregon, and may not be used without permission.