The 2003 Goat Rocks Wilderness Hikes


The Goat Rocks Wilderness is a portion of the volcanic Cascade Mountain Range in southwestern Washington State between Mount Rainier and Mount Adams.  The Goat Rocks are remnants of a large volcano, extinct for some two million years.  This ancient volcano once towered over the landscape at more than 12,000', but has since eroded into several peaks averaging around 8,000'. The cluster of rocks and peaks have become known as Goat Rocks because of the bands of mountain goats that live there.

Much of the Wilderness lies above timberline, providing outstanding alpine scenery. Many high-elevation trails, including the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), remain impassable due to snow until July, and snow can return as early as September.


  • Looking south along the PCT to the summit of Old Snowy Looking south along the PCT to the summit of Old Snowy
  • PCT Thru-hikers moving north along the trail beneath Old Snowy PCT Thru-hikers moving north along the trail beneath Old Snowy
  • Looking south along the route of the PCT from Elk Pass, to the  8,000 foot peak of Old Snowy mountain Looking south along the route of the PCT from Elk Pass, to the 8,000 foot peak of Old Snowy mountain
  • Looking north from the highest point of the PCT in the Wilderness. Looking north from the highest point of the PCT in the Wilderness.
  • A beautiful display of Lupine at Snowgrass Flats in the central section of the Wilderness. Elevation 5,800 feet. A beautiful display of Lupine at Snowgrass Flats in the central section of the Wilderness. Elevation 5,800 feet.
  • A herd of the Mountain Goats that have given this Wilderness area its name. A herd of the Mountain Goats that have given this Wilderness area its name.
  • The herd alerted to our presence move off towards the steep rock bluffs. The herd alerted to our presence move off towards the steep rock bluffs.
  • Lucy hiking the Pacific Crest Trail in the northern section of the Goat Rocks Wilderness Lucy hiking the Pacific Crest Trail in the northern section of the Goat Rocks Wilderness
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  • Goat Lake, situated in an old volcanic crater at around 6,500' ... a lake that remains frozen for much of the year. Goat Lake, situated in an old volcanic crater at around 6,500' ... a lake that remains frozen for much of the year.
  • Our campsite at 6,800', with great views all round, including the shining peak of Mount Adams to the south Our campsite at 6,800', with great views all round, including the shining peak of Mount Adams to the south
  • Lucy resting on the summit of Old Snowy (8,000') ... Mount Adams in the background Lucy resting on the summit of Old Snowy (8,000') ... Mount Adams in the background
  • Peter and Jim Keogh resting on the summit of Old Snowy (8,000') ... Mount Rainier in the background Peter and Jim Keogh resting on the summit of Old Snowy (8,000') ... Mount Rainier in the background
  • Forty-foot high 'Split Rock' along the PCT at an elevation of 6,700 feet. Forty-foot high 'Split Rock' along the PCT at an elevation of 6,700 feet.
  • View from the summit of Old Snowy mountain (8,000 feet), looking north along the PCT ridge. View from the summit of Old Snowy mountain (8,000 feet), looking north along the PCT ridge.
  • View from the summit of Old Snowy mountain (8,000 feet), looking south to Ives Peak. View from the summit of Old Snowy mountain (8,000 feet), looking south to Ives Peak.
  • A Marmot sitting close to the tent, looking for an opportunity to steal our food ... cute but pesky! A Marmot sitting close to the tent, looking for an opportunity to steal our food ... cute but pesky!
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In previous years, Lucy and I have made visits to Goat Rocks from the southern access trail at Walupt Lake and traversed a short section of the PCT that leads north into the Wilderness.  As to goats, we could smell them, plucked their wool from low bushes and trod on their copious droppings, but never saw a single mountain goat, let alone a band!

This year was different:  We made four sorties into the Wilderness during the summer; the first from Highway 12 at White Pass and three from Chambers Lake trail-head.  Both locations gave us access to the highest sections of the PCT as it passes through the Goat Rocks.  Early one morning we came upon a 26 strong herd of goats at an elevation of 6,200 feet.  It was some time before they sensed our presence, giving us the rare opportunity to photograph these timid animals at close range.

©2003Peter Tremayne, Vancouver WA

 

 

 

 

 

 

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