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Goat Marsh Lake Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

This page is marked as a Closed Hike. Some or all of this hike has been closed by a governing body and hikers may be liable for fines or even arrest. At least part of this route may be dangerous and hard to follow, or it may cross areas with sensitive plant life or wildlife habitat. Trailkeepers of Oregon does not endorse or recommend hiking this route. When restrictions are lifted, this notice will be removed.
Goat Marsh Lake and Goat Mountain (bobcat)
Split-rail fence at the entrance to the research area (bobcat)
Bunchberry (Cornus canadensis), Goat Marsh Lake (bobcat)
The trail to Goat Marsh Lake (not a GPS track) (bobcat) Courtesy: National Geographic Topo
  • Start point: Goat Marsh Lake TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End Point: Goat Marsh Lake
  • Hike Type: In and out
  • Distance: 1.5 miles
  • Elevation gain: 80 feet
  • High Point: 2,915 feet
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Seasons: Summer into Fall
  • Family Friendly: Yes
  • Backpackable: No
  • Crowded: No



NOTICE: This trail is closed until further notice because of activity from the Kalama Fire. Please check the closure map before you plan for a hike.

This short hike into the Goat Marsh Research Natural Area allows you to encounter a variety of natural habitats in a rather small area: a Mt. St. Helens pyroclastic layer reforested with lodgepole pine; massive old growth, most notably of noble fir; and relatively young wetlands, formed about 400 years ago along the base of Goat Mountain when pyroclastic flows blocked Coldspring Creek, which essentially "disappears" into this marshy area. There are two areas of open water which have earned the name "lake." The massive noble fir groves here are equaled on the planet only by stands of coast redwoods in density of wood biomass. As this is a scientific research area, only the minimum disturbance of keeping to the hiking trail is permitted.

From the Goat Marsh Lake Trailhead, walk on a wide track heading down an old road bed among lodgepole pines, pass a horse detour, and clamber in and out of a washed out gully before reaching the Goat Marsh Lake-Kalama Ski Trail Junction. Take the Goat Marsh Trail #231A. Head gently up in lovely old growth forest and pass through a split rail fence where signs announce the Goat Marsh Research Natural Area among old growth Douglas-fir, noble fir, silver fir, and western hemlock. The trail here can be muddy in the wet season. See the marsh to the right and then the small expanse of water that is the first open body of water in Goat Marsh Lake, rimmed by old growth and oval-leaf blueberries. Pass along the western shore of the lake, coming to the sign that says you’re entering the Research Natural Area. The trail continues along the shore of the lake, becoming more indistinct, passes along the edge of a wet meadow with a view of Mount Saint Helens, and reaches the second open expanse of water in the wetland. Note that trees along the edges of the wetlands have been killed by a rising waterline due to beaver dams.

Return the way you came. This short hike can be done as a family excursion or part of a longer day to be combined with hikes like the Fossil Trail Loop Hike, Sheep Canyon Loop Hike, or Cinnamon Ridge Loop Hike. A slightly longer excursion can be had by beginning at the Kalama Ski Trailhead.

Fees, Regulations, etc.

  • Restricted area: Keep to the trail. No horses or motorized vehicles.


  • Maps: Hike Finder
  • Green Trails Maps: Mount St Helens National Volcanic Monument, WA #332S
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument & Administrative Area
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: Gifford Pinchot National Forest
  • National Geographic Trails Illustrated Map: Mount St. Helens - Mt. Adams

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this hike

  • Day Hiking: Mount St. Helens by Craig Romano & Aaron Theisen
  • A FalconGuide to Mount St. Helens by Fred Barstad
  • Hiking the Gifford Pinchot Backcountry by the Columbia Group Sierra Club

More Links

Page Contributors

Oregon Hikers Field Guide is built as a collaborative effort by its user community. While we make every effort to fact-check, information found here should be considered anecdotal. You should cross-check against other references before planning a hike. Trail routing and conditions are subject to change. Please contact us if you notice errors on this page.

Hiking is a potentially risky activity, and the entire risk for users of this field guide is assumed by the user, and in no event shall Trailkeepers of Oregon be liable for any injury or damages suffered as a result of relying on content in this field guide. All content posted on the field guide becomes the property of Trailkeepers of Oregon, and may not be used without permission.