John Guilford's Hikes
Goat Lake on 1994-09-24
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
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
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
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
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
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.
Falls in Elliot Creek below Goat Lake.
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Last updated on: Mon Jun 8 16:50:16 PDT 2015