Hike of the Week:
June 23, 2008
Location: Mountain Loop Highway
Distance: 10.4 miles roundtrip
Elevation: 1300 ft. gain to 3200 ft.
Map: Green Trails 111 Sloan Peak
Goat Lake is a beauty - a snow-free trail leads to a large and serene lake in an alpine cirque. It's an excellent day hike, but is often a favorite of overnight backpackers. There's nothing better than being lulled to sleep by the sound of McIntosh Falls plummeting out of Goat Lake and into Elliott Creek.
It is a popular trail. If you do decide to pack a tent, you might want to avoid summer Saturdays. The campsites fill up quickly and there are not many suitable alternatives to the main area.
There are two parallel trails that lead to Goat Lake. The lower trail that follows the creek is currently closed due to a slide. Never mind, the upper trail is better maintained and offers good views along the way. You'll head off to the left for about a mile until you reach a junction with the Chokwich Creek Trail.
In another 2 miles you will meet up with the lower trail and in another mile you will enter the Henry M. Jackson Wilderness and start climbing more. Just before the lake take a short break at McIntosh Falls before making the final push to Goat Lake.
The camping area is to your left, a nice picnic spot is near the meadow, and the best photo ops from the trail that winds part way around the lake to the left.
Guidebook: Day Hiking North Cascades by Craig Romano (Mountaineers Books). Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, Verlot Public Service Center (360) 691-7791. Read Trip Reports from recent visits.
From Granite Falls, drive the Mountain Loop Highway east from Verlot to Barlow Pass. At 3.5 miles past Barlow, turn right onto Elliot Creek Road #4080. Drive the road .8 miles to its end. From Darrington, drive the Mountain Loop Highway 19.5 miles and take a left turn on FR 4080. Northwest Forest Pass required.