Goat Rocks east side

Trip recommendations, current conditions, and other trail related Q&A
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drm
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Goat Rocks east side

Post by drm » July 31st, 2019, 7:41 am

So was looking at the map recently and saw these trails and lakes on the east side. It's not that far from me, but such as roads go, it's a long drive. I was wondering about it:

1. How does scenery compare with the west side?
2. What is trail maintenance like? Lots of logs down and such or reasonably good condition?
3. Just not having the PCT probably means vastly less hikers, is that so?
4. Any favored routes? (you can PM me if you prefer - I can keep a secret!)

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texasbb
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Re: Goat Rocks east side

Post by texasbb » July 31st, 2019, 9:53 am

drm wrote:
July 31st, 2019, 7:41 am
So was looking at the map recently and saw these trails and lakes on the east side. It's not that far from me, but such as roads go, it's a long drive. I was wondering about it:

1. How does scenery compare with the west side?
I love the east side. It's not like the west side with its iconic view over the knife edge, but very nice. Smaller views you have to work a bit to get to.
drm wrote:
July 31st, 2019, 7:41 am
2. What is trail maintenance like? Lots of logs down and such or reasonably good condition?
Trails are generally very good (I was just up there July 4th weekend) with two minor exceptions. The bridge over Conrad Creek (at the confluence with S. Fork Tieton River) is damaged, requiring some minor use of your hands to get on it; and where the final spur breaks off from the top of the lollipop there's a short section that's brushy with a spot or two that's washed out a little (not sideways, just deep into the tread). It's actually less brushy now than usual, though the washouts have been there for years. Do use the left side of the lollipop, as Surprise Lake is nice and the other side is less used and has had a few blowdowns the couple times I've walked it.

My main gripe is the longish approach. You have a couple miles of cow pasture to get through before reaching the trailhead kiosk. It's easy to follow the trail through the pasture, just stay straight where a path forks to the right.
drm wrote:
July 31st, 2019, 7:41 am
3. Just not having the PCT probably means vastly less hikers, is that so?
Yes. You'll still see people, especially on weekends, but it's much less crowded.
drm wrote:
July 31st, 2019, 7:41 am
4. Any favored routes? (you can PM me if you prefer - I can keep a secret!)
I don't know any seekrit spots. The must-sees are Cold Lake (the glacial pool at the foot of Conrad Glacier), Warm Lake (go up the S. fork of Conrad Creek to get there, and don't miss the gorgeous cut canyon falls on your right as you go up), and Devil's Washbasin (off-trail but obvious if you can read a map and follow the elk trails). The views from the pass on the way to the Washbasin are nice both ways.

My trips:
2014
2015a
2015b
2016
2019

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Chip Down
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Re: Goat Rocks east side

Post by Chip Down » August 1st, 2019, 8:51 pm

As is typical in the Cascades, you'll find more snow/ice on the east side, and consequently the typical rugged glacier-carved terrain. Probably pointing out the obvious here.

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drm
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Re: Goat Rocks east side

Post by drm » August 2nd, 2019, 7:53 am

So I'm having difficulty matching your trips with my map, which has nothing labeled as Devils Washbasin, though apparently that is just the upper part of the Conrad Ck drainage? And where is that lake that one of your trips labels as Devils Washbasin? I'm thinking of doing a two night trip that includes the Surprise Lake lollipop as well as the more southerly trail to Cirque Lake.

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texasbb
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Re: Goat Rocks east side

Post by texasbb » August 2nd, 2019, 9:15 am

drm wrote:
August 2nd, 2019, 7:53 am
So I'm having difficulty matching your trips with my map, which has nothing labeled as Devils Washbasin, though apparently that is just the upper part of the Conrad Ck drainage? And where is that lake that one of your trips labels as Devils Washbasin? I'm thinking of doing a two night trip that includes the Surprise Lake lollipop as well as the more southerly trail to Cirque Lake.
The Washbasin is in the shadow of Devil's Horn, immediately to its northwest. It's on the other side of the ridge so actually the North Fork Tieton drainage.

If you just do the Surprise lollipop, you miss 90% of the good stuff, IMO. The whole loop is forest with the lake about the only feature. A few small views to Tieton and Curtis Gilbert. Good grazing when the huckleberries are ripe. Probably a great trip if you're going for the fishing, but you have to get up on the "bench" to access the alpine lakes, waterfalls, wet meadows, glacier views, etc. (And over the ridge between Tieton and Devil's Horn to visit Devil's Washbasin.)

I haven't been to Cirque Lake.

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drm
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Re: Goat Rocks east side

Post by drm » August 2nd, 2019, 11:20 am

Okay, I saw the spur trail on one of your maps indicating where to leave the lollipop loop to go up to the shelf. That leads to the upper south fork of Conrad Creek?

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texasbb
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Re: Goat Rocks east side

Post by texasbb » August 2nd, 2019, 11:47 am

drm wrote:
August 2nd, 2019, 11:20 am
Okay, I saw the spur trail on one of your maps indicating where to leave the lollipop loop to go up to the shelf. That leads to the upper south fork of Conrad Creek?
Yep. After the last steep segment on that spur, it drops slightly down to the S. Fork and there's good camping just after you ford it. The spur trail continues another mile or so north to the main fork of Conrad Creek. Peel off the trail to the left when you see the outlet falls from Conrad Basin, and a 300-ft climb up the talus by the falls puts you at the creek for an easy walk on up to Cold Lake below Conrad Glacier. Or continue on the spur to the ford of the main fork and follow the boot/elk path(s) up to the little pass to get over to Devil's Washbasin. If you lose the path, just stay high to avoid too many sloppy meadows. Back the other way, follow the S. Fork upstream to its gorgeous wet-meadow headwaters, then turn left up the last draw to find Warm Lake.

I love it up there.

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retired jerry
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Re: Goat Rocks east side

Post by retired jerry » August 6th, 2019, 5:57 am

yeah, what tbb said

Surprise Lake loop is okay, mostly treed. I prefer the road the first mile, rather than the cow pasture.

The upper trail is much better, Goat Rocks alpine. The unmarked junction is maybe 1/2 mile northwest of Surprise Lake. I tried a little to get to Cold Lake but failed.

My goal has been to get up onto the ridge. My best attempt was to go about 1/4 mile northwest of Surprise Lake. Then, the slope isn't too steep and I think you can get onto the ridge. Then, take the ridge to Gilbert Peak. Or, go over the ridge and there's a faint trail to Cisus Pass

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