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Goat Lake

Aug 12, 2011

by alpine last modified Aug 16, 2011 08:07 PM
Type of Outing
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Hike: Goat Lake
Region: Olympics
Why You Should Go Now
Wildflowers blooming
Goat Lake - Olympics
Upper Dungeness - Goat Lake - Royal Creek loop

I have wanted to get to Goat Lake in the NE Olympics for some time. Was intrigued by a few trip reports posted on NWHikers and WTA.

Made a loop of it via the upper Dungeness trail, continuing on the west side of the River, beyond the sturdy bridge crossing a mile or so downstream from Camp Handy. From there upstream is a pretty distinct path which traverses above the river to a campsite on the other side of the river from Camp Handy. In that vicinity heading uphill a rarely maintained and steep trail rises a half mile vertical, in only a couple of miles to the lake. I left the trailhead about 11:30 and got to the lake before 4pm. I encountered three people in two parties on their way down, otherwise no one. Ahhh solitude... A few snow patches just before the lake. The lake itself was completely clear of snow, with some large patches on the slopes to the south and southeast. Made camp on a nice bench above the lake, where I would benefit from the morning sun. A few early evening bugs to deal with, and later clouds swirled around as I made ready for bed and dew started to settle.

After a moon-lit night I awoke to bright sun and blue sky. Perfect! The next leg took me cross-country straight up the talus slope to the west, and nearing the ridge tending left, to a bit north of the notch/saddle forming the lowest point. From there I dropped down west into the rocky swale, traversing to the north on talus to a point where I could look down and see the Royal Creek meadows campsites - visible far below. Worked my way down on the steep loose scree slope, which made for relatively easy descending (scree plunge stepping) until reaching talus about half way down. Met the Royal Lake NPS ranger who was on his way up for a day trip from his base at Royal Lake. Had a nice chat - sorry for the scree/rock showers. To exit the scree/talus field, at the bottom I angled my way to the left (south) and did a short bit of bushwhacking to intercept the trail above the footlog over the creek (and thus avoiding a ford at the meadows proper). Kicked back in the meadows for some rest and lunch.

The descent to the trailhead was uneventful and beautiful as always. Lots of people heading up for the weekend. The two avalanche paths crossing the trail had been recently cleared of logs but short stretches of easily negotiable hard snow remains under the debris.

All in all a nice tidy loop with some cross-country spice in the middle. Substantial steep up and straightforward down when going clockwise. Due to the loose scree, I'd expect a tougher go in the opposite direction.
From the ridge top looking east. Goat Lake below.
Upper slope on Royal Creek side, just below the ridge top, looking to the southeast
Looking up the descent route, from Royal meadows
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