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Explore the Goat Rocks Wilderness

Nestled between snow-capped Mount Rainier and Mount Adams, the Goat Rocks’ reputation for stunning scenery and relative proximity to population centers, such as Southwest Washington and Portland, Oregon, draws more adventure-seekers every year.

Nestled between snow-capped Mount Rainier and Mount Adams, the Goat Rocks’ reputation for stunning scenery and relative proximity to population centers, such as Southwest Washington and Portland, Oregon, draws more adventure-seekers every year.

The Goat Rocks Wilderness also exemplifies the challenges presented by shrinking public investment. As more trails and forest roads succumb to washouts and storm damage, more people are being driven to an ever-dwindling number of trailheads. To help combat this loss, WTA has chosen the Goat Rocks Wilderness as a priority area in our Lost Trails Found campaign. We'll be focusing on advocacy and trail work efforts in the Goat Rocks to help bring trails back from the brink and keep them open for generations to come.

As we embark on this work—there are still many accessible trails in the Goat Rocks ready for exploration. Try one of these ten incredible trails to give you a taste of what the Goat Rocks region has to offer.


East

Surprise Lake

Length: 13.0 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 1505 feet
Highest Point: 5260 feet

Surprise Lake. Photo by DitchRL.jpeg
Photo by trip reporter DitchRL.

This seldom-visited trail threads through patchworked wildflower meadows and dense forests until you near the lake and break out into alpine clearings. Above the pretty little lake loom some of the great craggy peaks that give the Goat Rocks Wilderness its name. 

> Plan your visit using WTA's Hiking Guide


Bear Creek Mountain

Length: 7.0 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 1237 feet
Highest Point: 7337 feet

Bear Creek Mountain. Photo by wishfulwanderer.jpeg
Photo by trip reporter wishfulwanderer.

This beautiful trail will take you up to the third-highest hiker accessible trail in the Goat Rocks Wilderness. After crossing Bear Creek itself—you meander through a meadow populated with a diverse array of wildflowers from monkeyflower, daisys, and lupine in addition to sweet little buttercups. As you continue to climb, you'll reach the site of an old lookout with a 360-degree view of Mount Adams, Mount Rainier, and the monumental Goat Rocks, not to mention the countryside to the north and east.

> Plan your visit using WTA's Hiking Guide


Round Mountain

Length: 5.2 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 1700 feet
Highest Point: 5970 feet

Round Mountain. Photo by eleanorandkyle.jpeg
Photo by trip reporter eleanorandkyle.

This short and sweet little hike to Round Mountain offers nice views, and a good half-day hike for those looking to explore the Goat Rocks Wilderness while staying at a nearby resort. Alternatively, you can tack it onto a longer day, make it a thru-hike, or even a side trip while hiking the PCT. For such a low-key destination, it’s remarkably accessible.

> Plan your visit using WTA's Hiking Guide


Shoe Lake

Length: 15.7 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 2500 feet
Highest Point: 6600 feet

Shoe Lake. Photo by KES31.jpeg
Photo by trip reporter KES31.

Stretch your definition of a day hike with a trip to Shoe Lake. This gorgeous lake is the perfect introduction to the Goat Rocks wilderness, but because it's closed to camping, you have to hike even further into the backcountry to overnight. The way is gently- to moderately-graded, making for relatively fast hiking, and the views along the way are a perfect unveiling of this gorgeous area: first deep green woods give way to an airier, fragrant forest, then after an alpine traverse you burst onto the Shoe Lake basin and stunning views of the Goat Rocks beyond. 

> Plan your visit using WTA's Hiking Guide


West

Heart Lake VIA Lily Basin

Length: 13.0 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 1900 feet
Highest Point: 6148 feet

Lily Basin. Photo by mytho-man.jpeg
Photo by trip reporter mytho-man.

This alpine trek gives hikers just about everything the could ask for—meadows, flowers, lakes, snow-capped peaks, wildlife. The trail eventually intersects with the Angry Mountain trail, but along the way, hikers are led to the upper reaches of Lily Basin and the headwaters of Glacier Creek.

> Plan your visit using WTA's Hiking Guide


Angry Mountain

Length: 16.8 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 3409 feet
Highest Point: 6049 feet

Angry Mountain. Photo by Rachel Wendling.jpeg
Photo by trip reporter Rachel Wendling.

Looking for adventure and solitude? Angry Mountain is the destination for you, though trail conditions may make put you in the mood the mountain is named for. It's a steep, challenging climb from Forest Road 21, but the payoff comes miles later, when you finally gain the ridge crest separating two glaciated valleys.

> Plan your visit using WTA's Hiking Guide


Goat Lake

Length: 12.0 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 2000 feet
Highest Point: 6600 feet

Goat Lake. Photo by the_noble_dust.jpeg
Photo by trip reporter the _noble_dust.

This somewhat-steep trail starts off cool and shady as you meander through thick forests until opening up to meadows after the first junction. The meadows will stay with you as you reach the top of the ridge where you are eventually rewarded with outstanding views of the Jordan Creek Basin to the west and Goat Creek basin to the east. Continue on and you'll find yourself at Goat Lake, a frigid pool nestled underneath a rocky outcrop.

> Plan your visit using WTA's Hiking Guide


Glacier Lake

Length: 4.0 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 800 feet
Highest Point: 2905 feet

Glacier Lake. Photo by manuelte.jpeg
Photo by trip reporter manuelte.

The Goat Rocks has a fair number of strenuous hikes—but this short and sweet trail is perfect for families and little ones. With only a 2-mile hike in, you can enjoy as much lake time as possible (and even get some fishing in, too!). Along the way, enjoy the abundance of huckleberries and diverse ecology.

> Plan your visit using WTA's Hiking Guide