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Snowgrass Flat

South Cascades

Location

South Cascades
View map below

Length

8.2 miles, roundtrip

Elevation

Gain: 1600 ft.
Highest Point: 5800 ft.

Rating

4.35 out of 5

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If you prefer hikes with multiple options and varying degrees of length and difficulty, the trek to Snowgrass Flat offers all that and more. Situated in the rugged Goat Rocks Wilderness, Snowgrass Flat is a lovely subalpine meadow that attracts wildflower lovers in July and August and backcountry campers throughout the hiking season. Due to its immense popularity, the trail is often best visited on a weekday or after Labor Day Weekend.

Start at the Snowgrass Trailhead, where you’ll be asked to fill out a wilderness permit (free), and then proceed on Trail 96 into an open and airy forest that’s often dry and dusty in the summertime. Just a tenth of a mile into the hike, ignore the connector to the Berry Patch Trailhead and stay right. If you like to graze while you hike, huckleberries and blueberries ripen alongside the trail in late summer.

Just before the two-mile mark, you’ll cross a sturdy bridge over Goat Creek and then enter a cedar swamp. After the snow melts in early summer, this stretch of trail is often overrun by hungry mosquitoes in search of their next meal. If you don’t want to be a walking buffet, apply insect repellant liberally or pick up the pace.

Up to this point, the trail has been largely flat and even downhill at times, but after you leave the swamp, the going becomes more challenging as you climb 1,100 feet over the next two miles.

Unless you’re hoping to extend the out-and-back hike into a lollipop-shaped route, avoid the bypass trail to your right at about the 3.5-mile mark and continue on the main trail. When you reach the junction with the Lily Basin Trail (Trail 86) at 4.1 miles, you’ve arrived at the lower portion of Snowgrass Flat. There are several campsites here. Linger a bit, wander down one of the many side trails in search of the perfect view or a proliferation of wildflowers, or turn around and retrace your steps. Your total for the day will be roughly 8.2 miles.

But if wanderlust gets the better of you, continue straight on the remainder of Trail 96 and climb more than 400 feet to the Pacific Crest Trail, which is less than a mile away. Then hang a right, soak in the views, and descend a mile to the aforementioned connector trail. Take it to return to Trail 96 and head home for a hike more than 10 miles in length.

An even more enticing option, but one that will bring your total mileage to 13, is to take a left at the main junction and follow the Lily Basin Trail all the way up to stunning Goat Lake, a turquoise lake situated in a north-facing cirque that is often snow-covered well into summer. Campsites abound on this loop route. From the lake, follow the Goat Ridge Trail (Trail 95) through a panoramic landscape with views of Mt. Adams and verdant Jordan Basin below. Just before you reach the Berry Patch trailhead, hang a left on the connector back to the Snowgrass Trail and follow it the short distance back to your car.

PRO TIP: If the parking lot at the Snowgrass Trailhead is full, you can park at the nearby Berry Patch Trailhead, which requires a Northwest Forest Pass but no wilderness permit.

 

Snowgrass Flat

Map & Directions

Trailhead
Co-ordinates: 46.4642, -121.5190 Open map in new window

Trailhead

South Cascades

Snowgrass (#96)

Gifford Pinchot National Forest, Cowlitz Valley Ranger District

See weather forecast

Guidebooks & Maps

Day Hiking: South Cascades (Nelson and Bauer - Mountaineers Books)

Green Trails No. 302 Packwood

Green Trails No. 303 White Pass

Green Trails No. 304 Blue Lake

Green Trails No. 335 Walupt Lake

Green Trails No. 303S Goat Rocks William O Douglas Wilderness

Buy the Green Trails Goat Rocks-William O Wilderness No. 303S map

Getting There

From Randle, head east on Highway 12. About three  miles before Packwood, take a right on Forest Road 21 and head south. After 13 miles on the bumpy gravel road, take a slight left on Forest Road 2150. In less than three miles, take a right toward the loop parking lot at Snowgrass Trailhead (Trail 96). Or continue less than a quarter mile to the Berry Patch Trailhead (Trail 95), which features a vault toilet. A short connector trail connects Trail 95 and 96.

 

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Snowgrass Flat

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