Pets allowed
Allowed
Elevation Gain
?
Trail type
Loop
Distance
13.60 mi (21.89 km)
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Located in what seems to be the "middle of nowhere," sandwiched roughly halfway in between Mount Rainier and Mount Adams, Goat Rocks Wilderness is quickly becoming a favorite backpacking and hiking destination, and the nearly 14-mile loop trail up to Goat Lake is certainly its most popular adventure.

This hiking trail offers almost everything any outdoor enthusiast is looking for: old-growth forest, waterfalls, lush wildflower meadows, extensive wildlife (e.g., Roosevelt elk, hoary marmots, mountain goats, etc.), alpine lakes, and panoramic vistas of Washington's Cascades.  What protects it, however, is the 2+ hour drive from the nearest town over 5,000 people, and the extensive snow pack that only allows this trail to be accessed for a few months out of the year.

From the Chambers Lake/Snowgrass Trailhead you can choose to ascend up to Goat Lake either via the Snowgrass Trail or via Goat Ridge.  Obtaining an overnight camping spot at Goat Lake is a gamble based on its popularity, however, and you'll find a lot more backcountry campsite options along the Pacific Crest Trail, which is best directly accessed via the Snowgrass Trail.

Once above treeline and connected with the PCT, Mount Adams and Mount St. Helens will come into view.  To get a view of giant Tahoma (Mount Rainier's original name), you'll have to venture all the way up to the Packwood Glacier.  From there, you might as well hike an additional 0.8 miles up to the top of Old Snowy Mountain (7,900 feet) to get the best vistas and to appreciate the rest of the Goat Rocks Wilderness.  From the summit of this hike you can return to the PCT and then onto the Lily Basin Trail to reach Goat Lake, or you can make a somewhat tricky but direct off-trail scramble.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Summer
Fall

Congestion

High

Parking Pass

Wilderness Permit

Pros

Incredible Cascade views. Wildlife. Superb backpacking.

Cons

Limited season due to snow-pack. Heavy use.

Trailhead Elevation

4,620.00 ft (1,408.18 m)

Net Elevation Gain

2,480.00 ft (755.90 m)

Features

Backcountry camping
Waterfalls
Big Game Watching
Wildlife
Big vistas
Old-growth forest
Wildflowers

Typically multi-day

No

Location

Field Guide + Map

Nearby Adventures

Washington, Mt. Adams/Indian Heaven Wilderness/Goat Rocks
Washington, Mt. Adams/Indian Heaven Wilderness/Goat Rocks
Washington, Mt. Adams/Indian Heaven Wilderness/Goat Rocks

Nearby Lodging + Camping

Washington, Mt. Adams/Indian Heaven Wilderness/Goat Rocks
Mt. Adams/Indian Heaven Wilderness/Goat Rocks, Washington

Comments

07/22/2017
The snow is almost fully melted out along all of both the Lily Basin and PCT 2000 trails. Wild flowers are in full bloom.
07/02/2015
Quick overnight trip to Goat Rock Wilderness, with all the warm weather the snow at Goat lake has almost all melted out. Still a few snow patches higher up on the Old Snowy ridgeline. Great wildflower displays at the moment.
06/06/2015
Being a year with little snow, decided to try the Goat Lake loop in early June. There is still a good amount of snow in the Goat Rocks Wilderness. While the PCT was covered and Trails 96 and 97 were still under a few feet of snow, we could do the full loop hiking along the lower trails from Snowgrass trailhead to Goat Lake a back.
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