Added by Cammeron Evans
This beautiful loop section of the Goat Rocks Wilderness has a little bit of everything!
This is one of my favorite hikes for Washington State. Aside from the massive volcanoes hanging out down here, the southern region of the cascades is much more tame compared to areas further north. As I mentioned in my Old Snowy report, a jaw dropping side trip from the loop trail, the Goat Rocks themselves are the remains from an ancient volcano that towered thousands of feet above where they now stand.
The loop starts at the Berry Patch Trailhead near Packwood, WA. I would suggest hitting the trail counter clockwise to start. If you go this way, Goat Lake will be on the back half of the trail for a nice dip. I have done it both ways and there isn't too much of a difference either way. Both ways begin with a few miles of tree cover to get through. Once you climb out of the woods, you are met with very distracting views for the bulk of your journey. Going counter clockwise you follow trail #96 almost 4 miles all the way to Snowgrass Flats. Once you get past the 3 mile marker you begin climbing fairly quickly up through the trees. As you break through the trees and into the flats, you begin to cash in the views from here on out. At just under 6000ft. everywhere you turn you are met with gorgeous views. Mt. Adams is arguably the best of all, looming among the wealth of wildflowers you will find here during the summer months.
Snowgrass Flats is a great area to camp in, but I would recommend going just a touch further for more solitude. One thing that stood out to me, for both of my trips to this area, was all of the camp vibes everywhere to choose from! This area is very close to the PCT junction that takes you up to Old Snowy Mountain. I would recommend either staying a night in this short section, or dropping the packs for a little exploration. Moving forward with the task at hand, the trail continues climbing slowly as you start clinging more and more to the wall of the Cispus Basin. Now the views of the powerful Goat Creek come into view as you get closer to the lake. It is about 3.5 miles from the flats to the lake, with roughly 500 more feet of elevation to gain. Once you get to the lake, take in the views and scope out the potential tent spots scattered all around the lake. This lake doesn't get a ton of Vitamin D throughout the day, making it very hard to thaw out. I visited towards the end of July this year and it was still probably 40% frozen over. That didn't stop my buddy and I from taking a shallow dive into the icy waters for some cryotherapy though! Please be very careful going into icy water. It may be very hot outside but if you aren't careful, you can actually shut your body down in waters this cold.
The trail continues south of the lake climbing a bit more on your way over Goat Ridge and down into Jordan Basin. Enjoy views of Mt. Adams as it disappears behind the ridge for your decent. With a little more than 4 miles left the trail begins to drop into the trees. Before you lose sight of Adams, enjoy a good look at Mt. St. Helens. During sunrise you can see the blast hole fairly well, but as the day goes on the ruin turns into more of a shadow on the horizon. Very eerie looks here. Once you dip into the trees its just a smooth long cruise down to the car. Depending on what phase the snowmelt is in, the bugs down here can be horrendous. Definitely bring the deet for this hike just in case. The horseflies and mosquitos can be very pesky. Also try and grab a map of this area to see all of the interconnecting trails leading to longer more scenic routes. It seems that all of these ridge lines are interconnected, creating a beautiful network of trails to navigate for future trips!
- Big ten (for backpackers)
- Northwest Forest Pass
- Rain gear (optional as always, the weather can and does change quickly near Rainier though)
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Backpacking, Camping, Chillin, Hiking, Photography, Swimming
Spring, Summer, Autumn
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