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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 Trail — Apr 12, 2014 — Arkitekt
Day hike
Issues: Blowdowns | Snow on trail
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Excellent early Spring hike. Not too much snow on the trail. Started out on the Upper road by doing ...
Excellent early Spring hike. Not too much snow on the trail. Started out on the Upper road by doing the first switchback encountered from the trail head. I would suggest this route if you are doing a loop. It was gradual and pleasant the whole way up. No footprints in the snow at all heading toward Windy Point.

First people encountered were just before Windy point. Three other parties followed. All seemed to be regretting their decision to take the lower path out. In all the trail was ~8 miles with a few trips for exploring and going out to Windy Point.

Nice views across the valley that would likely be obscured more once the large stands of Red Alder begin to leaf out. Now is a great time to do this hike and expect much smaller crowds than the more busy Hwy-2 hikes like Wallace Falls and Lake Serene.
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Iron Goat Trail — Nov 11, 2013 — Bec
Day hike
Features: Fall foliage
Issues: Water on trail
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The gate was locked to the interpretive site, so I parked outside it and hiked up, taking the short ...
The gate was locked to the interpretive site, so I parked outside it and hiked up, taking the short cut to the Windy Ridge Viewpoint. The trail was snow free, although near Windy Point there were some snowy patches off the trail. From there, I turned around and did the loop past Martin Creek Trail head back to the interpretive center.

The trail was in good shape, although some water was on the trail on the upper grade. I passed about a dozen other hikers during the three hours I was hiking. Be sure to give yourself plenty of time to enjoy the interpretive signs along the trail, they make this hike absolutely stellar!

For a more complete report, please visit my blog at http://happyhousehiker.blogspot.com/[…]/iron-goat-trail.html
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Iron Goat Trail-Stevens Pass-West — Nov 08, 2013 — Sbutton
Day hike
Issues: Snow on trail
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Took the shortcut up to Windy Pass, then headed towards Marten Creek for about two miles. Turned ar...
Took the shortcut up to Windy Pass, then headed towards Marten Creek for about two miles. Turned around when we got tired of slogging through the slushy snow. Jogged back down with wet feet.

The trail is generally snow-free to Windy Pass. North gains progressively deeper snow, I suspect South is just a trace.

Enjoyed seeing the traces of the old railroad, and had fun walking along the base of the old snowsheds. Niko poked his head in every drain hole along the base of the wall.

Based on the tracks, there was a man and dog ahead of us that went South at the top of the shortcut.

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Iron Goat Trail-Stevens Pass-West — Oct 16, 2013 — Ramona
Day hike
Features: Fall foliage
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Hiked the Iron Goat Trail from Wellington to Martin Creek Trailhead, continued on new trail across M...
Hiked the Iron Goat Trail from Wellington to Martin Creek Trailhead, continued on new trail across Martin Creek and up to west end of lower trestle, then back on the one time railroad's lower level to Scenic parking area. (We had shuttled cars)
There is a fine bridge across Martin Creek, and from there the trail is under construction. This is a long-time project of VOW (Vollenteers for Outdoor Washington) that will eventually provide access to the west end of the upper trestle and the other end of the horseshoe tunnel. Some of the trail to access the upper trestle's west end is already in place, but we did not check it out, so do not know if it has a bridge over the creek.
Lots of intrepretive signs along the trails along with the old tunnels, snowsheds, foundations for trestles and bits of iron work.
Trail is in very good condition.
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Iron Goat Trail-Stevens Pass-West — Sep 21, 2013 — Muledeer
Day hike
Features: Fall foliage
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Rain in the forecast? This is a good hike to pick. There is lots to see even without grand vistas. T...
Rain in the forecast? This is a good hike to pick. There is lots to see even without grand vistas. This follows the old railroad grade, before the tracks were moved across the valley. Read up on the old railroad history before you go, or pick up a pamphlet at the red caboose interpretive center. We took the Windy Point shortcut, which switches up to the upper grade, then hiked up to the Wellington townsite. Trains were running by as we hiked, so, along with the old spikes, ties and snowsheds, it was easy to imagine the history. No problems with the trail anywhere. Thanks to the VOW crew hard at work brushing out the trail. Lots of different kinds of mushrooms and a few late flowers blooming.
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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
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