I took a weekend backpacking trip to Goat Mountain this past weekend in the North Cascades. The drive up from Seattle wasn’t bad. Traffic was light and we arrived at the trail-head at around 10 A.M. There isn’t too much parking space, but if you arrive early there should be ample parking space at one of the two available parking lots. (Trailhead location @ Google Maps).
First off, excuse the poor photo quality! I opted to not bring my usual Sony setup and just had the iPhone 7 plus for this trip! I’ll definitely bring everything next time, but breathtaking views none the less.
The trail starts off relatively easy, with some wide and continuous switchbacks. This part of the trail is well maintained and easily traveled. For the first 3.5 miles or so, we were shaded by forestry. Not much of note about this section of the hike. There’s a side trail around 2 miles up that leads to an old cabin and lookout point, but we decided to skip it. As we made our way through switchback after switchback, there’s a short section of relatively flat ground before the trail turns sharply up towards the mountain. We quickly found ourselves above the treeline and this is where the trail condition begins to degrade a little. Nothing unmanageable but at times we lost the trail over snow or other debris. This is the first view of the Cascades that you’ll encounter. Turn around and you’ll be able to see Baker and Shuksan looming in the distance. From this view point, they were still slightly obstructed by trees.
We trekked further up to around 5000′ when the area around us started to clear up. I’d reckon it was around 4 miles in at this point. On top of this knoll area, there were plenty of suitable spaces to setup camp, but we decided to traverse a bit higher to find our perfect spot. There were plenty of wild flowers and water was plentiful as well. I ended up melting snow to replenish my water supply. For this trip I didn’t bring a filter, but chlorine tablets instead.
We found a spot to setup camp and decided to stash some of our gear and have a quick lunch. I had only spotted 1 other group camping in the area and encountered just 1 couple who were day hiking, so it seemed like this was one of those less traveled places to be. Our camp was around 5250′ elevation, where the trees really started to clear up on the knoll, giving us a wide panoramic view of the entire mountain range. We spent the rest of the day exploring the knoll and surrounding meadows. The wild flowers were really amazing and seemed like I came at just the right time to see them!
The next morning we started our trip to the summit of Goat Mountain. The official trail ends a few hundred feet onto the knoll, but there is a semi-defined trail of switchback and scrambles for the final ~1600′ elevation to the top. For this portion we left our packs at the camp and hiked with just a small summit pack. This part of the trail was harder than the previous day, there was still a lot of snow in places and since we started early in the morning (6 am), some places were icy from the previous night. The elevation gain begins right away and I definitely felt it! Many times we just trekked upwards when we lost the trail, and it wasn’t until around 70% of the way up before the trail became more defined again.
Eventually we made it to the summit of Goat Mountain (6650′). From the peak, I got to see panoramic views of the North Cascades and of course, British Columbia’s seemingly endless range of mountains. There were also many wild flowers and also a glacier slightly below the peak of goat mountain. At the top was a plateau of sorts where we took a break to have lunch and enjoy the views. It was chilly, but not cold enough to require a jacket.
Overall it was a great trip. Next time I’ll be sure to bring a camera + tripod. It’s a great spot for photography, with wild flowers, panoramic views of endless mountains, and a vast open space for star gazing with spectacular foreground. And just a little extra, but the cellphone reception was really good (there is a cell tower across the valley at Baker Ski Area). I’ll include a few more photos below, hope you enjoyed this trip report!
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