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Iron Goat Trail

Central Cascades > Stevens Pass - West
47.7292, -121.2065 Map & Directions
Length
6.0 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain
700 feet
Highest Point
2800 feet
Calculated Difficulty About Calculated Difficulty
Moderate
The first few miles of the Iron Goat trail are ADA-accessible. Photo by Linda Roe. Full-size image

Take a hike through railroad history. The old tunnels, rusting relics, cement snow sheds and the big red caboose should appeal to kids of all ages, and the complex history of the railroad and those who built it, as well as the avalanche that wiped everything away will appeal to history buffs. Continue reading

  • Wildflowers/Meadows
  • Mountain views
  • Dogs allowed on leash
  • Rivers
  • Waterfalls

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

Northwest Forest Pass
Rating
4.02 out of 5

(43 votes) Log in to rate

Hiking Iron Goat Trail

This is a gentle walk along the old Great Northern railroad grade built over the Cascades in 1893. At the time it was built, it was considered the best engineered of the transcontinental railroads. Your journey will take you on one of the intricate switchbacks that once started trains up the Cascades Mountains.

Start out at the Martin Creek trailhead, where you will now find a wonderful trail for hikers with physical challenges. The first part of this loop contains almost three miles of ADA-accessible trail, and it is both interesting and beautiful. It is a wide gravel trail with wooden bridges across small creeks making the journey easy on wheelchairs. Admire the small waterfalls coming down. There are several old tunnels with trails going up to the opening, and collapsed timbers that once were protection from the snow. Note the dates stamped in the concrete at the entrance of the tunnels. Many of the tunnels and snow bridges were built after the Wellington Avalanche Disaster to better protect the trains from snow. Pause and read the interpretive signs in front, but the tunnels are unsafe to enter!

There are more than tunnels and timber to tell the rail story. Interpretive signs along the way also tell of the people that built the railway. In a little over three miles, reach the paved turn off to the right and the start of the alternative trailhead by the red caboose. Stop here, let the little kids climb on the red caboose while the big kids read the display and check out the history. There are vault toilets here too.

To take the upper loop, follow the signs to the Windy Point crossover trail left at the junction. This is a steep switchbacking trail that gains elevation much faster than a train could. At the top, this trail intersects with the upper trail. You can go to the right and on to the Wellington trailhead for a longer hike, adding almost six miles to your total. For a nice lunch stop and good views of Stevens Pass, surrounding peaks and the present railroad line, take the right trail for just a quarter of a mile to the Windy Point viewpoint. There are some nice lunch rocks and if you are lucky, you might hear, or see pikas.

To make the loop and return to Martin Creek, take the left upper trail, a rougher trail than the lower one. This trail will take you by the remnants of several snow sheds. There are usually waterfalls coming off the top of some of them. Notice the signs beside the trail with numbers, these are the miles to (or from) Chicago, where the railroad originated. It is worth taking the Spillway Spur stairs just to see where the old reservoir once was. The new Cascade Tunnel was opened in 1929 and the old grade abandoned. Perhaps you can hear the whistle of a train climbing over the mountains even now. Follow the Martin Creek crossover back to your car.

History

The railroad was built by 800 workers — many of them Japanese immigrants — who laid the train tracks across the Cascades through Stevens Pass. The Wing Luke Museum offers hiking tours of this history.

WTA Pro Tip: Read ‘The White Cascade’ by Gary Krist, an account of the Wellington Avalanche Disaster, then hike the rest of the trail to the Wellington trailhead with a deeper appreciation of history and our Cascade mountain weather.

Toilet Information

  • Toilet at trailhead

More information about toilets

WTA worked here in 2021, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2014 and 2010!

Hike Description Written by
Linda Roe, WTA Correspondent

Iron Goat Trail

Map & Directions

Trailhead
Co-ordinates: 47.7292, -121.2065 Open in Google Maps

Before You Go

See weather forecast

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

Northwest Forest Pass

WTA Pro Tip: Save a copy of our directions before you leave! App-based driving directions aren't always accurate and data connections may be unreliable as you drive to the trailhead.

Getting There

Take Highway 2 toward Stevens Pass, to milepost 55. Turn left onto the Old Cascade Highway. At the junction with FR 6710, take a sharp left onto FR 6710. In 1.4 miles reach the trailhead. There is a vault toilet and parking for about 20 cars.

For the Wellington trailhead, drive Highway 2 to Tye Road (also known as the Old Cascade Highway). This is just west of the Stevens Pass Ski Area. Follow the rough but passable pavement for about 3.5 miles.Turn right into the parking lot for the Iron Goat Trail.

More Hike Details

Trailhead

Central Cascades > Stevens Pass - West

Iron Goat Trail (#1074)

Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, Skykomish Ranger District

Guidebooks & Maps

Day Hiking: Central Cascades (Romano -- Mountaineers Books)

Buy the Green Trails Alpine Lakes West-Stevens Pass No. 176S map

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Iron Goat Trail

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