Hike to Elk Pass via "the Knife"

18.2 Miles Round Trip - 4000 ft gain - Out-and-Back Trail

Snowgrass Flat Trailhead - Search Nearby - Added by Isaac Desautels

Experience one of the best portions of the PCT and arguably the most scenic trail in the Goat Rocks Wilderness. With options for spectacular side trips and colorful wildflowers in the summertime, this hike is a must. 

This is a rather long out and back, however, it can also be done as a backpack, which would give you more time to explore the Goat Rocks Wilderness, which is highlighted in other Adventures. For your trip to Elk Pass, begin your trek in the Snowgrass Flats parking lot. A Northwest Forest Pass is required. A short spur trail takes you west towards Trail #96 to Snowgrass flats. Two miles in woods brings you to Goat Creek and winds through a swamp. If you go earlier in the season this part of the trail is swarming with mosquitoes. 

Over the course of the next two miles the trail climbs over 1000ft elevation before reaching the meadows at Snowgrass Flats. This is an excellent, albeit, crowded place to set up camp if you plan on backpacking. Additionally there is a side trip to Goat Lake that is about 4 miles round trip. Continue on from here about one mile until you reach the PCT. Continue N on the PCT through the open meadows and take in the Views of Mt Adams and the spectacular meadows. The trail eventually comes to a split to either head up to Old Snowy or to bypass Old Snowy and follow a narrow path cut below the ridge. Both ways are challenging. The Bypass has steep snow fields to cross and loose rock, the route up towards old snowy is steep and narrow with loose rock. We chose to try each. On the route up towards Old Snowy, a small trail leads to the top if you would like to summit. On your way down you will continue on to “The Knife,” a roller coaster of a ridgeline that has beautiful 360-degree views of Mt Rainier and nearby mountains and valleys. If you are lucky, fog will have flooded the valley below and wind will cause the fog to flow over the ridge, which is quite the spectacle. Hike about a mile further to highest point of the ridgeline for your turn around spot, Elk Pass, and a great place for lunch. 

This hike is long and will take all day, make sure to bring adequate water and snacks.

Tags

Photography
Hiking
Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Forest
Lake
Scenic
Wildflowers
Wildlife

Details

18.2 Miles
4000 ft elevation gain
Out-and-Back Trail

Stay Nearby

Ashford, Washington

Mt. Rainier Guest Services

From $109/night

Goldendale, Washington

Mt. Hood Viewpoint

From $100/night

Cascade Locks, Oregon

Cascade Locks / Portland East KOA

Ellensburg, Washington

Ellensburg KOA

Nearby Adventures

Backpack the Goat Lake-Jordan Basin Loop

13 Miles Round Trip - 2400 ft gain

Summit Old Snowy Mountain

17 Miles Round Trip - 3800 ft gain

Hike to Goat Lake, Goat Rocks Wilderness

10.5 Miles Round Trip - 1400 ft gain

More Nearby Adventures

Tours

More Tours

Reviews

Leave a Review

Overall rating:  Rate this Adventure

Have you done this adventure? Be the first to leave a review!