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John Guilford's Hikes

Goat Lake on 1994-09-24

Date: 1994-09-24

Location: Goat Lake

People: (including myself): Pam

			My Alt.	Real Alt Miles (approx)
Start:		1:10	1720	1980	 0
Road Switchback:		2280	 1
Road Clearing:	2:05	2420		 2 1/4
Old Trailhead:	2:35	2360		 3 1/2
Begin Switchbks:	       ~2900	 4 1/2
Goat Lake:	3:20	2980	3161	 5
Leave:		3:30
Wilderns Sign:	3:55	2440	2640
Old Trailhead:	4:10	2400
Road Clearing:	4:40	2440
Out:		5:20	1760	1980
I had forgotten how pretty of a lake and how pretty of a hike this was.  Too bad I shortchanged myself by not giving myself enough time to enjoy there hike.  I'll have to come back here again soon. 

Drive about 4 miles past Barlow Pass until you take a right on an unmarked Forest Service road 4080.  About a mile later the road ends and the 'trail' begins.  The first part of the trail is actually an old road.  The road used to go further in (until the 'old trailhead') until it was closed due to slides and was never reopened.  It has since become trail.  For a lot of it, it is still wide enough that two can walk abreast, although for most of it, front and back is more comfortable.  One can see the width of the old road for most of its length and can see where the newer vegetation is working on reclaiming the unused width of the old road. 

The trailhead was pretty full.  It must be because of the fine weather (low to mid 80's and warm).  A lot of backpackers were going and and coming out.  Definitely a popular hike.  Then again, it seemed like all the trailheads were really full on the drive out here - perhaps everyone is trying to get the 'last' hike of the season done before the weather turns bad. 

In any event, we squeezed the Celica in behind another car, more on the road than in the parking area, but still leaving enough room for people to get out.  There is an old trail that departs from the south side of the parking area and follows Elliott Creek up to the lake.  At least there used to be.  Five years ago when I was last here the trail had been essentially abandoned and was heavily overgrown.  We didn't check to see if the trail was still in existence or not.  Clearly, essentially everyone uses the old road way as the main trail in nowadays. 

The trail/road starts off heading east and almost immediately turns north to traverse the hillside, which is steep in places.  At times one can look through gaps in the trees and the valley spreading out below you with views of Dickerman Mtn. and Twin Peaks across the valley.  The trail has a consistent easy upward grade along here.  You slowly and surely gain altitude as you traverse the hillside.  In our case, due to time constraints, we weren't sure we could get to the lake before we had to turn back, and so we took a pretty fast pace along the road part of the trail.  Under most circumstances, a slightly slower pace would be preferable.  At about a mile from the trailhead, after about a 300' gain, the road sharply switchbacks and heads south, still gaining altitude.  Now the steep drop off, and the views, are on the other side of the road.  I didn't realize it at the time, but the road that we had just hiked in on was below us about 150'.  The road slowly turns to the southeast and heads straight for Goat Lake

On the hike in, we saw several groups of backpackers heading out.  They must have gone in on Friday night and spent one night. 

The trail goes through some real pretty Alder patches as well as some Hemlock groves and passing through some open (at least by the standards of the Cascades) forest. 

At about 2 1/4 miles, we came to a wide spot in the road that I at first thought was the old trailhead, but it soon became clear that this clearing was just some clearing and the trail beyond here was still ex-roadway.  It is easy to tell due to the apparent width as well as seeing occasional piles left behind by some stock that must have gone through recently (but not today - we didn't see any horses or bikes, which are allowed up to the old trailhead). 

Several places along the roadway one has to cross slides that make it quite clear why the old road was closed.  The road traverses some steep terrain at times and it was inevitable that slides would eventually trash the road. 

Finally, at about 3 1/2 miles, the old roadway ends (there is still the old trailhead sign) and the trail officially starts in earnest.  Somewhere around there the old old trail that followed Elliott creek used to connect in.  The quality of the trail is good and it isn't too much different from walking along the road part of the hike.  Soon, you pass a sign saying that you are passing into the Henry M. Jackson Wilderness.  There is some beautiful old growth timber along here.  Massive fir and other majestic trees abound. 

[ PIX1 ] A bit later you cross a marker indicating a section boundary.  At this point, you are almost there! The lake is only about another 10 minutes away (going down hill, perhaps a bit longer going up).  The last half mile of the trail gains several hundred feet in four long switchbacks.  These finally are passed and almost immediately there is the lake.  Just before getting to the lake proper, the trail passes by a couple of waterfalls and cascades which are good places for photos or just to view the Cascades at its best. 

Supposedly, one can find an old roadway someplace just before the switchbacks and go south towards Ida Lake and an abandoned mining town, but I've never seen anything indicating the correct way. 

The biggest problem that we had on the hike was that Pam's hiking boots have been giving her some trouble with blisters.  We almost took her tennis shoes with us, and should have - this trail would be really good for light shoes like that.  Pam had prepared by putting moleskin on her heel, with some tissue underneath so that the moleskin wouldn't stick to the (probable) blister and pull it off.  She also tried adding some more padding outside that, held on with tape.  Unfortunately, this still rubbed causing a rather large blister.  I'm sure the rapid pace didn't help either.  On the way back, we ended up putting on a much larger piece of moleskin over her little piece.  This stabilized it better and helped comfort-wise.  In the future, we should start off with a large piece of moleskin. 

Unfortunately we had to turn around almost immediately after reaching the lake, due to scheduling.  I had really wished to go around and find that rock that I had eaten lunch on last time and to get a good view of Foggy Peak.  The trip back seemed faster (it was just over two hours in and just under two hours back) but that was probably due to it being down hill most of the way (gentle grade) and return trips usually seem faster. 

The high point on the hike back was when Pam saw a hawk fly across the trail and light in a tree.  Checking it out, she found that the 'hawk' wasn't a hawk at all.  Instead, it was a Spotted Owl.  It was sitting up on a limb in a tree, but we managed to get a decent look at it (and some photos).  <Dang - where are my binoculars when I need them??> Pretty neat.


[ PIX1 ] Falls in Elliot Creek below Goat Lake

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Last updated on: Mon Jun 8 16:50:16 PDT 2015