Backpack Goat Rocks Wilderness - Berry Patch to Walupt Lake

Rate this Adventure 17.46 miles 5262 ft gain  - Point-to-Point Trail

Added by Katie Jean

Goat Rocks provides you with everything you could hope for in a backpacking trip; it boasts beautiful views of multiple Cascade Range volcanoes, snow capped craggy peaks, alpine lakes, wildflowers, waterfalls, abundant wildlife and sweeping alpine meadows.

Date(s) hiked: Aug. 20th - 22nd, 2016

Difficulty: Moderate

Traffic: High to Low

Pros: Beautiful views, craggy mountain peaks, waterfalls, clear trail markings, easy to access trailheads

Cons: Crowded, major signs of overuse, difficult to find campsite due to high traffic


Last month a few friends and I backpacked a horse-shoe shaped route through the beautiful Goat Rocks Wilderness in Washington state.

We started from the popular Berry Patch Trailhead (bathrooms and picnic tables) around 1:00 PM and hiked north along Trail No. 95 “Goat Ridge Trail” to Jordan Basin where we spent our first night.

Jordan Basin-

The views from Jordan Basin are phenomenal. We camped just a short jaunt below the highest point of our entire trek which we’d conquer the next morning. From the basin you can see Mount Adams (if you walk or camp high enough) and Mount Saint Helens amidst the rolling Cascade Range hills and mountains that seem as vast as the ocean.

On the hike in we only encountered maybe two or three other small groups of backpackers but when we arrived at Jordan Basin I was a little perturbed to be frank. There were so many people camped there, it was difficult to find a spot suitable enough to camp and we ended up having to camp about 20 feet from Jordan Creek and the trail that paralleled the creek, and only about 60 feet from another camper. Below us there was a massive group of campers, which appeared to be apart of one group, who were burning a campfire (which was banned at the time), and they were breaking off branches of wood from nearby logs and stumps (LNT people!) to stoke their fire. In general the basin shows very obvious signs of human impact and it makes me hope that the Forest Service will start regulating this area a little more, perhaps requiring permits to be reserved ahead of time to keep the impact under a little more control. I love being able to just throw my gear in the car and drive out to the wilderness and hit the trail without having to make reservations ahead of time, I am a very spontaneous person, but I also love the wilderness and I don’t want us to love it to death.

Jordan Basin is a popular place to camp because it is the first area (if hiking northbound) that you really can camp at due to the steep terrain all along the ridge to that point. And then just beyond the basin is the Goat Lake restricted area where you aren’t permitted to camp (though I saw plenty of people clearly violating this rule). Another thing to note about Jordan Basin is the difficulty in which one has in relieving one’s self. It’s quite exposed, and there are a lot of people about, and especially people camping above you makes this difficult. Men share only 50% of this problem I suppose. I made sure to get up pretty early to go pee before hikers hit the trail and folks in the camp area were awake yet (or so I thought)- I didn’t even want to think about pooping here. The logistics were just too complicated. And I figure no one wants to see my butt pooping while they’re trying to enjoy nature.

(No apologies if you didn’t want to read about my pooping and peeing, I really want to keep my blog as open about anything relating to the outdoors as possible. These are questions many beginners have but are too embarrassed to ask about so I’m just going to address these things point blank.)


Goat Lake, Goat Rocks & the PCT-

Day two, we broke camp after having breakfast and started up the remaining bit of Trail No. 95 towards the summit of our trek around 9:08 AM. The air was brisk and clean, not much different than your usual mountain air. Soon we crested the top of the ridge and were welcomed by an awesome view of the Goat Rocks and Old Snowy.

It didn’t take us long after proceeding onto Trail No. 86 (Lily Basin Trail) to be greeted by a beautiful field of wildflowers. This part of the trail skirts along a steep ridge that drops you off at Goat Lake and then continues to skirt along on the other side of this basin traveling south.

It doesn’t take long hiking from the junction to get to Goat Lake. There was hardly any snow left at the lake. I’ve visited in years past at about the same time and have seen so much more snow, which is saying something for the high temps we’ve seen this past summer because we actually got quite a bit of snow in the mountains this past winter. Anyway, my point is, sometimes you can encounter snow at Goat Lake!

After passing Goat Lake it was a long, gorgeous slog to Sheep Lake, now with full views of Mount Adams. The Lily Basin Trail hooks south and hugs the ridge toward Snowgrass Flats where the trail meets up with the Snowgrass Trail and takes you either back to the Berry Patch Trailhead where we started (creating a much shorter and simpler loop for backpacking or trail running the Goat Rocks Wilderness, also the most popular route) or to the Pacific Crest Trail JCT. You can camp near this PCT junction as well as down at Alpine Camp which is just outside of the Snowgrass Flats no camping zone and right at the Snowgrass/Lily Basin Trail JCT. Both of these areas are very popular to camp at and can get very crowded. As you would imagine these areas also show major signs of human impact as well.

It wasn’t on any of our maps but maybe after about a mile on the PCT we came to a spring where we were able to fill up on water. After Goat Lake the next place to reliably refill water is at Alpine Camp, there are a few streams just shortly after Goat Lake but they were barely a trickle this time, I’ve seen them at much higher flow in the past but not so this year. There’s also a nasty looking stagnant pond too, I try to avoid those if I can. We last filled up at Jordan Creek and did not get water from Goat Lake (lakes tend to taste weird according to Quinn - I can’t say I’ve noticed), meant to fill up at Alpine Camp but forgot, so we were getting pretty anxious to find water when we happened upon this spring. Also, once we got on the PCT we no longer saw throngs of hikers.

After being fully hydrated again we hiked a few more miles until reaching a spot just before the headwaters of the Cispus River that would make a decent campsite in a pinch (it’s a little close to the trail however) and a great place to take a nap. I stopped here in 2012 while traveling northbound with my friends Julie and Rachel on our traverse of the PCT from Walupt Lake to White Pass/Hwy 12 to take a nap. We stopped to take naps here again this time. Though great for napping on the trail side, the basin side of this spot is kind of overrun with TP...ew! Pack it out people!

Recharged we proceeded around the bend to the Cispus River Basin, another breath-taking landscape.

Once going over Cispus Pass the trail enters the Yakima Indian Reservation, signs tell you to stay on the trail as leaving it would be considered trespassing, yikes! There is a place to camp in the middle of the Cispus Basin before you make the final push to the Pass, otherwise there is no camping until you cross back into Lewis County, which even so there aren’t really any good places until our destination for the night, Sheep Lake, simply due to the topography.

Unfortunately I realized that none of us took any photographs of Sheep Lake! Rookie mistake! Sheep Lake was really neat though and way less crowded than Jordan Basin, though there was one other party camped across the lake from us, but the human impact around the lake was more than apparent. The lake itself is located just beyond the junction of the PCT and the Nannie Ridge trail (if traveling south along Nannie Ridge trail) and there is a little trail that goes around the lake. There are plenty of nooks to camp. The far side of the lake, where we camped, is very dusty with that very fine, chalky, almost white ash dust and it got all up in my gear. It was kind of a pain to clean after the trip.

That night at Sheep Lake we were expecting the temperature to drop as it had been forecasted. However we also saw a giant mass of nimbostratus clouds forming to the west with an eastwardly movement that made me wonder if we might get some rain too. Clouds did obstruct any views of the night sky but we did not end up getting rained on even though you could smell it. We got lucky. The temperatures did drop significantly, as we awoke to quite a bit of condensation and anything that wasn’t under cover was covered in a thin layer of frost. I stayed toasty warm inside the MSR Freelite 2 tent with rainfly and my Therm-a-rest Z-Lite sleeping pad and REI Women’s Flash (32º F) sleeping bag, though my companions said they were cold throughout the night. Tyler decided to debut his new leather boots on this trip, my bad as a trip leader not being more on top of things like this, and had really bad blisters even though we’d been tending to his feet and taping and moleskinning them since day one and he was about done with his feet probably before we even got to Snowgrass Flats, so we opted to take the shorter route by continuing to Walupt Lake via the Nannie Ridge Trail which was just as well considering we’d have to hitchhike our way back to our car at Berry Patch anyway.

Sheep Lake to Walupt Lake-

The Nannie Ridge trail plunged us back below the treeline and our views were not as abundant. Though right below Nannie peak we were able to snatch some views of Mt Adams just before our elevation dropped too low to see it anymore.

After rounding around Nannie Peak the trail loses some serious elevation in a relatively short distance. This is where my feet tend to struggle, though they persevered way better than they have in the past on day three. The Nannie Ridge trail was a little overgrown until we were just a mile from Walupt Lake Campground and then the trail got quite wide and we knew we were close when we began catching the scent of campfire smoke.

Walupt Lake is always beautiful, and it was nice to relax there before starting our hitchhiking. I’m not sure exactly how far we walked before we got picked up but we were sure glad to finally find a ride!


GPS Coordinates-

Start: 46.467, -121.528

End: 46.423, -121.470

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Tags

Backpacking
Bathrooms
Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Forest
Lake
Picnic Area
Scenic
Waterfall
Wildflowers
Wildlife

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