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Snowgrass Flat

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The trail climbs through some of the most spectacular wildflower meadows in the state, and presents some of the most wonderful views a hiker could imagine. Volcanoes loom on all sides: Mount Rainier, Mount Adams, Mount St. Helens, and on clear days, even Mount Hood can be seen far to the south. But it's not just the big snow-capped cones that are seen. Lesser volcanoes-perfectly formed cinder cones-can be seen scattered throughout the southern Cascades, in addition to the ancient volcanic peaks of the Goat Rocks. Actually, the peaks along the Goat Rocks Crest are the last remaining bits of an ancient volcano that formed and collapsed long before the current peaks poked up.

A short spur trail leads west from the trailhead, and in less than 0.25 mile it joins the Snowgrass Flat Trail (No. 96). Starting out in heavy forest cover, the trail crosses Goat Creek near the 2-mile mark and swings into a cedar swamp.

This swamp is one of the reasons I recommend early autumn as the prime hiking season. By waiting until September to enjoy this hike, you'll find the high pass snow-free and the swamp will be mostly bug-free. Hike in August, and there will likely be snowfields at the pass, and swarms of blood-hungry mosquitoes in the swamp. Of course, the marsh is a mere quarter mile long, so if you do come here in the summer months, a bit of bug dope and a fast pace will protect you from the worst of the bugs.

Once past the wetlands, the trail climbs 1100 feet in the next 2 miles to reach the lower meadows of Snowgrass Flat at 4.1 miles.
Driving Directions:

From Packwood, drive west on U.S. Highway 12 for 2 miles and turn left (south) onto Forest Road 21 (Johnson Creek Road). Continue about 15.5 miles on the sometimes-rough gravel road before turning left (east) onto FR 2150, signed Chambers Lake Campground. In 3 miles, turn right onto Spur Road 2150-040 and, shortly, right again on Spur 2150-405. Drive to the trailhead (signed Berry Patch) at the road's end, about 20 miles from Highway 12.

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Recent Trip Reports

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There are 80 trip reports for this hike. See all trip reports for this hike.
Snowgrass Flat, Goat Ridge, Goat Lake-Jordan Basin, Old Snowy Mountain - Elk Pass — Sep 06, 2013 — Fiver
Multi-night backpack
Issues: Water on trail
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One of the best multi-night backpacking trips I've ever taken. From our experience here are some ti...
One of the best multi-night backpacking trips I've ever taken. From our experience here are some tips:

1) Spent the first night at a camp on the bypass trail directly adjacent to a creek. Great location with privacy (no one else chose to camp near us) with lots of trees for shelter (especially from the elements). The camp is probably about a 1/4 mile off of the main snowgrass trail

2) We ended up hiking 3+/- miles of the Pacific Crest Trail above Snowgrass Flats. Were really impressed at how many great camping spots there were. About a 1/4 mile from where the trail junction of the PCT from the Snowgrass connector trail to the north there is an epic camping spot near some large boulders (look for it towards the Old Snowy side of the trail. The spot looks like it should be on a postcard.

3) Climbing to the top of Old Snowy is very doable. Would highly recommned leaving hikes poles at the PCT junction so you can use both hands scrambling.

4) If you camp at Goat Lake make sure you look for spots higher up in elevation towards the west/southwest. Most of the campsites are lower in elevation and only have views out the valley but if you get high enough you can also have outstanding views of Goat Lake. Well worth it.

5) Make sure you take a trip up to the old Goat Ridge Lookout. Doesn't get much use (via the way the trail looks) but the views are epic (Rainier, Adams, St. Helens, Goat Rocks, etc.). Would be an oustanding place to camp overnight.
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Goat Ridge, Snowgrass Flat, Johnson Peak-Lily Basin, Snowgrass - Cispus Basin - Nannie Ridge Loop — Aug 30, 2013 — NeedsFreshAir
Multi-night backpack
Features: Wildflowers blooming
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We headed out on Thursday night, in the rain, to car camp at Chambers Lake. We were hopeful the weat...
We headed out on Thursday night, in the rain, to car camp at Chambers Lake. We were hopeful the weather would change as predicted. Drove the forest service road in the dark, which was fun and set up camp around 11:30 PM. Got up early the next am, made a hot breakfast, and headed to the Berry Patch trailhead. Our first trip to the Goat Rocks, albeit on a holiday weekend. Nevertheless, we were excited to get out.

Our plan was to head up Goat Ridge, veer off to the old lookout site, drop into Goat Lake and camp there for the first night. The hike started out wet- not rain, but the underbrush was soaking wet and soon we were too. We came into the saddle where the trail joins the Lily Basin trail to clearing conditions. Lots of flowers in the basin around Goat Lake. Stopped and had lunch at Goat Lake, spotted some goats, and decided since it was early, to press on.

Headed down the Lily Basin trail towards Snowgrass Flats, checking out campsites along the way. We jumped onto the connector trail up to the PCT and snagged a great spot in the woods, next to a creek, with a perfect view of Mount Adams. As the afternoon went on, the trail became busier and busier. Lots of folks heading to Goat Lake.

Our second day we awoke late and headed out for the day- headed N on the PCT to climb Old Snowy and hike the "Knife" to Elk Pass. Both were excellent- the views were phenomenal. A work crew was out- big thanks to them! I highly recommend this portion of the trail for anyone coming to the area. We headed back down and were amazed with how busy that area had become. We decided to pack up and head to Cispus Basin for some different views and perhaps more solitude.

Cispus Basin is as lush and green as you can imagine and the flowers were still in pretty good show. There are only a few campsites in the basin and all were filled up. We headed up to Cispus Pass and cross country hiked to a vantage point high above the basin. The good news: solitude. The bad news: no close water. Watched a beautiful sky and saw a herd of 30+ mountain goats.

Awoke in the am to another clear day. The goats had all bedded down high beneath the Goat Rocks, very cool to see. Packed up and headed out via the PCT, to the connector trail, to Snowgrass Flat trail and back to our car. Still a lot of people coming in on Sunday.

Overall, a spectacular trip. Definitely worth going to. Highly recommend going in via the Goat Ridge trail rather than Snowgrass Flat as you get better views and get to hike around the basin. Again, definitely take the PCT north, climb Old Snowy, and don't forget your camera!

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Snowgrass Flat, Goat Ridge — Aug 18, 2013 — junaid
Day hike
Features: Wildflowers blooming
Issues: Bugs
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Beautiful day, sublime views, unbelievable flowers all the way from Bypass Camp to Jordan Basin (blo...
Beautiful day, sublime views, unbelievable flowers all the way from Bypass Camp to Jordan Basin (bloom is at the peak in my opinion). Huckleberries on the lower trail still have a ways to go to ripen. There are pesky black flies on the switchbacks from the creek to Bypass Camp. Both Snowgrass and Goat Ridge trails are in excellent shape. Full trip report here.
http://junaid-omar.blogspot[…]goat-ridge-marathon-13.html
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Snowgrass Flat — Aug 11, 2013 — Martha Nelson
Day hike
Features: Wildflowers blooming
Issues: Bugs
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Great day! Flowers peak right now! Views of the mountains blocked by cloud cover, but spectacular ...
Great day! Flowers peak right now! Views of the mountains blocked by cloud cover, but spectacular flower show made uo for lack of view!
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Snowgrass Flat — Jul 26, 2013 — Ross Murphy
Multi-night backpack
Features: Wildflowers blooming
Issues: Bugs
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What a hike this is, flowers beyond belief and endless epic views from PCT (Tr 2000) perfect time to...
What a hike this is, flowers beyond belief and endless epic views from PCT (Tr 2000) perfect time to go, easy hike in to Snowgrass via Tr 96A, here we took the 97 bypass which turned out to be a good idea because of all the people camping up the 96 trail, 2 1/2 hrs in and we camped in a sea of flowers (designated sites) then we hiked out to Cispus Pass, super flower show most of the way, next day we moved up to the PCT via Tr 2000 and went up to Old Snowy Mountain, the views up here are phenomenal, the PCT gives you views of the Goat Rocks, and all three of Washington's lower volcanoes, we camped along the PCT above Snowgrass (lots of designated sites in the trees) at a great little tarn, this was a superb two nighter, we put in close to 20 miles and we where dog tired, but so worth it and to boot its all dog fiendly so Ducky was super happy. (looked like a lot of people not respecting the no camping in Snowgrass Flat rules)
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Snowgrass.jpg
Backpacking to Snowgrass Flat. Photo by Brian T. Hosey.
Location
Snowgrass (#96)
South Cascades -- Goat Rocks
Gifford Pinchot National Forest, Cowlitz Valley Ranger District
Statistics
Roundtrip 8.2 miles
Elevation Gain 1600 ft
Highest Point 5800 ft
Features
Wildflowers/Meadows
Mountain views
Established campsites
User info
Dogs allowed on leash
Northwest Forest Pass required
Guidebooks & Maps
South Cascades
Green Trails No. 302 Packwood
No. 303 White Pass
No. 304 Blue Lake
No. 335 Walupt Lake

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  • Volunteer Vacations 2012
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