Photo by Forrest

Goat Lake

  • Region: South Washington Cascades
  • Length: 12.5 miles
  • Min Elev: 4600 ft
  • Max Elev: 6500 ft
  • Season: Summer/Fall

Scenery: 5

Difficulty: 3

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From Trout Lake, Washington, drive north on Forest Service Road 23 as it passes Mt. Adams and eventually reaches Forest Service Road 21. Drive Forest Service Road 21 until reaching a side-road to the right at a sign for Conrad Lake (Road 2150). A couple miles out Road 2150, take the right hand fork to the Berrypatch trailhead (continuing straight continues a short distance further to the Horse trailhead). The trail can easily be reached from Packwood as well by driving 2 miles west on US 12, then turning onto Forest Route 21 and following this road 15 miles to Forest Service Road 2150.

Trail Description

Goat Lake sits in a hanging valley with views of the surrounding peaks, and the massive north face of Mt. Adams to the south, while the trail to the lake provides beautiful flower-filled meadows, waterfalls, and clear creeks. Best of all, this great scenery can be found on a nice loop trail, so a constant change in scenery continually gives the hiker new views to enjoy.

From the trailhead, walk a quarter mile to the first intersection. To start the loop trip clockwise, take a left at the sign and walk this half-mile trail past a small pond to the second trailhead. From there, the trail starts its fairly steep climb up the southern wall of Goat Ridge. The trail stays under the trees, so the hiking stays fairly cool, and improving views of the Mt. Adams to the south keep you hiking higher. After 2.5 miles, a side trail splits off and leads to Jordan Creek. Continue straight, as the trail soon crosses the ridge, with views to the north of Mt. Rainier and west of the decapitated summit of Mt. St. Helens. Beyond the crest of the ridge, the trail stays fairly level. The easy walking makes it easy to enjoy the increasingly alpine country near Jordan Basin, a great meadow at the head of the valley. Keep an eye out for lupine, paintbrush, shooting star, heather, and large quantities of red columbine which congregate around the many stall streams and ponds.

The trail briefly joins up with Jordan Creek as it enters Jordan Basin. With one series of switchbacks, the trail makes its final ascent up Goat Ridge and the first good views of the Goat Creek Valley and Mt. Adams to the south. At the top of the ridge, a side trail leads to Johnson Creek Canyon and Heart Lake. Stay right, as the trail slowly descends as it crosses numerous small creeks and waterfalls that cascade down the headwall of the Goat Creek Valley. After a half mile, the trail reaches Goat Lake, which can stay ice and snow covered well into August. There are several campsites near Goat Lake, and like any high elevation alpine area, campfires are prohibited.

To complete the loop, continue past Goat Lake as the trail swings along the eastern wall of the canyon. The meadows continually get better, with views of Hawkeye Point and Goat Ridge, as well as the very impressive waterfall pouring out of Goat Lake’s hanging valley. Numerous meadows and small waterfalls accompany the trail on its way to Snowgrass Flat, where the trail passes through some stunningly beautiful wildflower meadows. Many campsites dot the trail along this portion of the trip, so finding a campsite generally should be fairly easy.

Beyond Snowgrass, continue on the Lily Basin Trail as it descends towards the beautiful Goat Creek. Beyond the flatlands around the creek (which will have you swatting at the mosquitoes), the walking remains easy and fairly level for the remainder of the trip back to the trailhead.


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Completed the 95 Trail today up to lake Fri and return today. Must say the crowds are way bigger than I would have thought. Had some car-campers-turned-backpackers arrive in our immediate space and set up their tent. So glad they were loud and obnoxious the whole time. Made the wilderness feel more like a frat house. Whatever... the lake, trail, hike, sunset was awesome. Camped on the cliff side below the lake and had amazing views of the basin below and Mt. Adams in the distance. Friday night allowed us to see the fire east of Mt. Adams and it was a bit eerie to see that so far off in the distance glowing so red and bright. Saturday delivered a haze of smoke that thickened by late afternoon to the point where nothing was seen in the basin below. Excellent diving rock on the east side of Goat Lake. Goats and marmots were abundant, and a falcon landed near us which was cool. By Saturday night we had so many people camping around us it felt like a music festival. I guess that's OK as it is all of our wilderness, just took away from the remote area a bit. Well worth the effort. The berry patch trail (95) is a strong climb to the lake, although manageable for those in good shape. Might be rough with little kids if you are intro'g them to the backpacking thing.

This is an excellent, very scenic hike. However, the clockwise version (which climbs goat ridge and goes through Jordan Basin) is STRENUOUS. Maybe less without a pack but strenuous none the less. Definetely go during the week to avoid the crowds. There must have been thirty to forty cars at the trailhead when I left on a Saturday morning. One last tip: If you live in Portland, the easiest and fastest way to get there is the route near Packwood (FR 21). There is no Conrad lake so don't be suprised when you don't see a sign for it. The sign at the turn off from FR 21 is for Chambers Lake. I don't know what the sign was like when the previous author posted, but now there is a paper plate on a wood sign that says Chambers Lake (there is nothing that says road 2150 but if you have a forest road map you should be fine). Once on 2150, keep left until you see the sign for the trailheads after a couple miles. Happy hiking!

Just did this loop 9/25-26, and I have to say it is one of the most scenic hikes in the NW. The fall colors were amazing, and the wildlife was out in full force - saw mountain goats, a badger, and even a black bear in the meadows near snowgrass flats. This does seem to be a pretty popular hike, so if you want a site at the lake, go early. Also, the loop trail is also open to horses, so expect lots of horse manure and mudholes, but that shouldn't deter you from enjoying this truly amazing hike..

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