Escape the crowds on this two-day backpacking adventure into the less-traveled areas on the north side of Mount St. Helens.
Your first day is a big one, so try to get an early start—you have 11.6 miles and 2,600 vertical feet to tackle. Begin on the Goat Creek Trail, which rises and falls like a mild roller coaster. You’ll cross a few mossy creeks and hike through red alder and western hemlock before coming to 150-foot Leona Falls, a little more than a mile in.
As the trail gets closer to Goat Creek, you’ll have views of several small waterfalls. Near 2.3 miles is the junction that marks the start of the loop; veer left, cross a babbling brook and continue upstream along Goat Creek before fording it at 2.9 miles. This is a good spot to top off your water bottles before the climbing starts.
Continuing on, ascend steeply through shaded forest before a viewpoint opens up at 4.5 miles. Take a breather here before ascending again for another mile. Through the next several miles, the trail crosses wildflower fields and skirts a shallow (sometimes dry) lake.
At 11.4 miles is the junction with the Goat Mountain Trail. Turn left and proceed for about 200 yards, then head right at the junction for about 0.1 mile to Deadmans Lake. Find a designated camping spot, drop your gear and relax and enjoy the serenity of this scenic pool.
The hike out is easier than coming in, with just 8.6 miles and 600 feet of elevation to complete the loop. From Deadmans Lake, set off along the forested ridgeline. This up-and-down section boasts large wildflower and huckleberry displays in the summer and offers a few tiny peeks of Mount Rainier. At 14 miles, reach a junction and turn right to descend through the woods for another mile. Following that, you’ll pass through a meadow, and then reach a small and somewhat hard to-access lake around 15.8 miles.
When you meet up with the Goat Creek Trail again, stay left and hike the final 2.3 miles back to your vehicle.
Goat Creek Loop
- 20.2 miles, roundtrip
- Elevation Gain
- 3200 feet
- Highest Point
- 5250 feet
Hiking Goat Creek Loop
Goat Creek Loop
Map & Directions
Co-ordinates: 46.4306, -122.1528 Open in Google Maps