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Iron Goat Trail

Whether a summer hike or a winter snowshoe, the former grade of the Great Northern Railway, and Seattle’s first railroad connection to the East, makes a pleasant mountain ramble easily accessible from either side of the Cascades.

More than 100 years ago, the Empire Builder railroad rumbled west from Minnesota through a narrow gap in the Cascades named for railroad engineer John F. Stevens. The trains are long gone, but the route remains, offering hikers the opportunity to walk in the path of this relic transit line and witness some of the artifacts of a mountain crossing railway — and visit the site of a 1910 disaster.

Beginning at the Iron Goat Scenic Trailhead and Interpretive Site, you have the choice of following the grade westward to the workcamp site known as Cornea or taking the Windy Point Cutoff to the upper grade. The Cutoff trail is only about a mile, but is very steep. If you’re snowshoeing, this trail can be difficult to navigate, so we recommend you skip the Cutoff in winter and take the normal route.

The grade westward to Cornea is never steep, as it was originally intended for trains, and hikers will enjoy the shady, thick forest that line the path.
Although the roar of Highway 2 never fully recedes, the forest is welcoming and pleasant.

Along the way, which is well signed, thanks to efforts from volunteers, you’ll quickly encounter impressive concrete retaining walls built to anchor snowsheds to the mountainside and replicas of mileposts marking your distance from St. Paul. Crumbling tunnels yawn invitingly along the route, necessitating more than a few side trips to peer cautiously into the darkness—but do not enter!

Just short of two miles from the Interpretive Center, give your brain a rest from digesting history, and enjoy a view up Deception Creek valley. You're nearly to the junction with the Corea Crossover Trail -- only a half mile to go! From the junction, the Iron Goat continues straight on to the Martin Creek trailhead, where WTA work crews have worked to improve the trail. Hike to this other end, or continue on to complete a loop hike that will end back at the parking lot you started from.

To complete the loop, you can turn right, passing a short spur trail (the Spillway Spur) to a reservoir. On the way, enjoy waterfalls, which run high and impressive in the spring. You can also bask in the views from overlooks of gorgeous nearby mountains. After hiking for nearly 4.5 miles, you will come to the junction with Windy Point Crossover Trail.

Take the Windy Point Crossover Trail back to your car, but don't forget to take a short side trip to Windy Point for more mountain views. This spur trail is only 0.25 round trip.

If the loop hike is too much, there are plenty of other options. With nine miles of trail and three different trailheads, the Iron Goat Trail has more than enough to explore. The trail sections between the Martin Creek Trailhead and the Scenic Trailhead and between the Wellington Trailhead and Windy Point are ADA accessible and stroller friendly in the summer months.
Driving Directions:

Take U.S. Highway 2 to milepost 58 at Scenic. Turn north on Old Cascade Highway, FR 67 and go 2.3 miles to FR6710. Turn onto FR6710 and go 1.4 miles to the Martin Creek trailhead parking lot and the Iron Goat Interpretive Site.

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Recent Trip Reports

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There are 90 trip reports for this hike. See all trip reports for this hike.
Iron Goat Loop — Jul 05, 2013 — jbk51691
Day hike
Features: Wildflowers blooming
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Started at the Marten Creek Trailhead and headed East to Scenic via the top RR grade via the crossov...
Started at the Marten Creek Trailhead and headed East to Scenic via the top RR grade via the crossover at Marten Creek. Took the Windy Point crossover down to Scenic and returned on the lower grade trail. This loop might be the better of the 2 loops with the other loop being the Scenic to Wellington loop via the crossover. The Marten Creek one had alot of cool features and tunnels to look at and a bridge to cross and at the end of the parking lot they are working on the other part of the Iron Goat that is the switchback part of the rail grade where the trains would make their turns. There is a nice bridge crossing Marten Creek and you can see all the platforms that supported the trestle for the trains in this area. Very cool history. The trail was in excellent shape. Hiked around 4pm and returned back at 7pm. Lots of beautiful wildflowers blooming..Penstemon,Columbine, Columbia Lily, Foam Flower, etc.
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Iron Goat Loop — Jul 03, 2013 — hicker
Day hike
Features: Wildflowers blooming | Ripe berries
Issues: Bugs
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Took the Iron Goat trail from main trailhead directly off Highway 2 (the one with the red caboose no...
Took the Iron Goat trail from main trailhead directly off Highway 2 (the one with the red caboose not the one off the side dirt road).We took a left towards the lower tracks at the fork where you can choose to go right up the stairs to the upper tracks near Windy Tunnel. It was a nice 3 some mile walk past all of the nice tunnels. When we got to the trailhead for the west end of the trail we took the switch-back to the upper tracks to loop back. There were a bit more bitting bugs and higher vegetation, but it was still very nice. When we got to the stick-back back to the start we went the extra 1/4 mile to the overview. We were surprised about how well they kept the trail, signs all over, pretty hard to get lost, even appeared to be a restroom up by the top of the switch-back by windy tunnel. The switch-back down from Windy Tunnel was quite steep, not too bad, but possibly not for those that are not friends of steep paths. Our only let down other than all those hungry flies was that the cool image on the hike's main page appears to be from the east side of the hike where the old town used to be. We will go back again to see that part.
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Iron Goat Loop — Jun 15, 2013 — Andrew J. Young
Day hike
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Great hike, lower part of the loop is wheelchair accessible. The upper part of the loop is flat, bu...
Great hike, lower part of the loop is wheelchair accessible. The upper part of the loop is flat, but requires a 700 ft climb when starting from the interpretive site. Very well maintained trails. Be sure to check out the website before going. http://www.irongoat.org/
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Iron Goat Loop — Jun 02, 2013 — lovinlife_74
Day hike
Issues: Blowdowns | Water on trail
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We started in the cloudy morning weather and it stayed cloudy the whole day but it was still a beaut...
We started in the cloudy morning weather and it stayed cloudy the whole day but it was still a beautiful hike. We did the fast trail on the way in and tool the Upper Trail on the way back. We past a tree where the bark was scraped off and a few minutes up the trail another hiker pointed out a Momma bear and her 2 cubs. She didn't move from the tree where they were, we took a few pics and moved along down the trail. The upper trail has several quite steep switchbacks but is totally do-able. We will be back and hike this again later in the season.
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Iron Goat Trail-Stevens Pass-West — May 25, 2013 — sunrunner
Day hike
Features: Wildflowers blooming
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forecast was uncertain but the mountains called us so we returned to the post-apocalyptic iron goat ...
forecast was uncertain but the mountains called us so we returned to the post-apocalyptic iron goat trail after many years since our last visit-recovering from injuries so the even terrain was appealing

we don't usually go to this spot later in the summer when more destinations higher up are available. but it was outstanding today this may have been our best hike there.

one brief rain shower as soon as we put on our coats it evaporated and we had a good chunk of sunbreaks and looks at surrounding peaks

the waterfalls & wildflowers are great up there right now!! the surrounding hillsides still have snow so it's a spectacular time of year to do this trail-we saw only a handful of other hikers

high above the sky valley betw 2500-3000' this trail is meticulously maintained and much of the views are close in so it is great even on an overcast day.

went to windy pt overlook 3.25miles from the martin creek trailhead with no issues there are a couple easily passable blowdowns and only one small patch of snow on the trail it said on nf website the wellington trailhead road is inaccessible

some bugs near the wet areas but the breeze is usually good up there so not bad

the road is clear and my sedan made it no problem to well marked trailhead with privy just a couple rough spots in road no big deal.
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iron goat trail hiker steve.JPG
WTA worked here!
2010
Location
Iron Goat Trail (#1074)
Central Cascades -- Stevens Pass - West
Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, Skykomish Ranger District
Statistics
Roundtrip 6.0 miles
Elevation Gain 700 ft
Highest Point 2800 ft
Features
Rivers
Mountain views
Ridges/passes
User info
Dogs allowed on leash
Northwest Forest Pass required
Guidebooks & Maps
Green Trails 176S: Stevens Pass

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Red MarkerIron Goat Trail
47.7120293 -121.1622797
  • Trail Work 2010
(47.7120, -121.1623) Open in new window
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