Goat Rocks Wilderness - Oct 17-18

This forum is used to share your experiences out on the trails.
Post Reply
User avatar
Posts: 110
Joined: July 28th, 2013, 10:30 am
Location: Portland

Goat Rocks Wilderness - Oct 17-18

Post by TwoPaw » October 25th, 2022, 6:52 am

An overnighter in Goat Rocks Wilderness - up #95-86 and back down #86-96 before the endless summer actually did. The Goat Rocks fire had closed the nw portion of the wilderness, but the rest was open and the haze slowly cleared as I drove on FR21 then 2150- finally opting for the Berry Patch TH (instead of Snowgrass) because no one was parked there.

The trails would be new to me. I’d been before in Goat Rocks coming up Nannie Ridge, from Packwood Lake, and from Tieton Meadows.

I’d recently invested in a new pack, sleeping bag, bear canister with the aim of lightening my load - to breathe new life into my step. I thought of handicapped horse races, where weights are added to the top thoroughbreds to even out the field. Now I was the slower horse, and so I was chucking off some of those weights, to compensate for this mutt’s lost youth.

And I must say, it made all the difference, wondering why I hadn’t done it earlier; the reason being that I don’t backpack all that much so all my old gear was fine - kind of durable in its heaviness, including my Osprey with a lifetime repair warranty (I got another Osprey). My new sleeping bag was both lighter and roomier - no more mummy rules - and I liked that too.

I chose to ascend up Goat Ridge because it’s steeper than Snowgrass and knowing it would get me to Goat Lake quickly enough given my midday start. It’s my kind of trail - commencing in rich forest, climbing steadily with peek-a-boo views until opening up to wide open vistas.
I wasn’t hurrying, getting warmed up and just enjoying being out. Some hazy smoke snaked its way into the valley below; an inversion layer at work for now.
Where I was, and above, was blue sky with dashes of fall color. I reached the end of #95 and transitioned to #86 for the final leg to the lake.

I had seen no one as I reached Goat Lake, set among a sea of well worn but entirely vacant campsites, and so I took my pick of the litter.
Also missing were signs of goats anywhere on Goat Ridge or here at Goat Lake. I coudn't help recall a recent WTA trail report that described a scene where at least two goats were picked off above Goat Lake by cheering gunmen - one goat tumbling into the water - before a crowd of thirty or so campers. Goat tags are not a dime a dozen, and they come with numerous regs to follow.

Today was more peaceful, and having pitched camp, I backtracked on the Lily Basin trail, heading up to Hawkeye Point for a look. However, heavy smoke shrouded the view to the north and west; only a sliver of Mt. Rainier barely visible. The most pleasing view was from Goat Lake.

The night was almost T-shirt warm - mid October yet - and it made stargazing a delight. The Milky Way above turned like a screw slot and the Big Dipper traced the ridge around Goat Lake. When a half moon came up later, it became a Zodiac sky.


A great sunrise; colors extra warm thanks to residual smoke. I packed up and descended on #86 with that million dollar view to the south of the Goat Creek Valley and Mt. Adams. The smoke seemed to be clearing in this direction.

About an hour into my descent I encountered a serious hunter quietly scanning the landscape. I would only meet two more hikers on the trip.

As #86 approaches #96 there are a number of confusing user trails so I checked my GPS. Otherwise than that this was a smooth, gentle descent. I made nice time and it was easy on my knees.

Approaching the Snowgrass TH I veered onto what is pretty much a connector trail back to the Berry Patch trailhead, but it's technically the final leg of #96. This connector section appears fairly lightly used, which surprised me.

User avatar
Posts: 1835
Joined: October 1st, 2009, 11:54 am

Re: Goat Rocks Wilderness - Oct 17-18

Post by BigBear » October 25th, 2022, 8:26 am

Never get tired of seeing the Goat Rocks pictures. It's been a while since I made the drive up there, so thanks for the post. Interesting to see Goat Lake without any snow - July and August was too early in the season to see so much bare ground. Sometimes I'd look down on the lake and just see a puddle of indigo water on the snowfield.

User avatar
retired jerry
Posts: 13969
Joined: May 28th, 2008, 10:03 pm

Re: Goat Rocks Wilderness - Oct 17-18

Post by retired jerry » October 25th, 2022, 8:44 am

what? no snow at Goat Lake? :)

you don't really need a bear canister. That would save some weight. Hang food from tree in pack. Doesn't need to be that high up unless you're in the Sierras, maybe Enchanted Valley in Olympics except they have bear wires there. Any place that requires it.

User avatar
Posts: 312
Joined: January 21st, 2014, 4:45 pm
Location: Hillsboro, OR

Re: Goat Rocks Wilderness - Oct 17-18

Post by teachpdx » October 25th, 2022, 9:40 am

Great time to visit Goat Rocks, nice to see it so devoid of people... but helps that you did the trip on weekdays.
I was in Indian Heaven just a couple days prior, also stellar weather but we got the potent east winds.
retired jerry wrote:
October 25th, 2022, 8:44 am
you don't really need a bear canister. That would save some weight. Hang food from tree in pack.
I have a bear canister but I'm always torn whether or not to bring it along. Not so much for the weight, honestly, but it's just big and bulky. If two of us are going out for 3+ nights it's great, if it's just me or a shorter trip I usually just opt to hang my food/trash in a water resistant stuff sack.

But at the same time, it can hold things other than food to take up that space if needed, and it also doubles as a decent camp stool.

I also have a giant Ursack that I bought for weeklong trips in grizzly country, but that's a whole different story.
instagram: @remyodyssey

User avatar
retired jerry
Posts: 13969
Joined: May 28th, 2008, 10:03 pm

Re: Goat Rocks Wilderness - Oct 17-18

Post by retired jerry » October 25th, 2022, 11:22 am

I have a bear canister. That weighs 2 pounds. I don't like that extra weight.

I was in Trinity Alps in June. Someone had an Ursack that a bear tore apart and ate the contents. Make sure and hang it at least 10 feet in air and 10 feet from tree if there are bears accustomed to human food. The same as any other bag.

That may be conservative - many people swear by Ursacks. They usually work.

The night before the Ursack incident, I hung my food in my pack a few feet off the ground. The night after I hung my food 10 feet off ground, 10 feet from trunk :)

Posts: 129
Joined: April 24th, 2019, 8:04 pm

Re: Goat Rocks Wilderness - Oct 17-18

Post by keithcomess » October 26th, 2022, 2:34 pm

A recurring complaint by me: hunting permitted in wilderness areas, especially those in heavy use (e.g., Goat Lakes) by hikers/backpackers. The loss of the goat into the lake (a source of pollutants and contaminants) is a particularly gruesome part of this report. This is desecration of the natural environment and a detractor for visitors. Add to that the risk of serious injury and potential confrontations with aggressive hunters/shooters as posted in other threads on this forum and elsewhere.

As for the bear can, I've backpacked that area numerous times and (anecdotally) I've avoided problems by simply following Retired Jerry's advice: hang food high off the ground and away from tree access. You'll save some weight.


User avatar
retired jerry
Posts: 13969
Joined: May 28th, 2008, 10:03 pm

Re: Goat Rocks Wilderness - Oct 17-18

Post by retired jerry » October 26th, 2022, 3:34 pm

I have a fear of hunters because that's not in my experience, but when I have met hunters they've always been friendly.

I try not to make jokes about warning the deer where the hunters are :)

Post Reply