Hiking: Goat Lake

For those of us who live in the Pacific Northwest, summer is finally upon us. Last weekend my friend and I hiked Goat Lake trail in the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forrest.


Located at the end of the Mountain Loop Highway, two hours drive from Seattle downtown, this is one of my favorite hikes in late spring/early summer. Thanks to volunteers from the Washington Trail Association, the trail is very well maintained and practically flat, making it a great destination for families with kids.


The trail starts at the far end of the parking lot. In just a few minutes, come to a well signed junction for the Upper Elliot and Lower Elliot trails. They’ll rejoin in approximately three miles. Given that it was a 90°F day, under a cloudless blue sky, we picked the lower trail. It is mostly shaded and curves around a running creek that keeps the temperature down.


At 3.8 miles, following the thundering sound, we come to a scenic veiling waterfall.

There are several viewpoint along the falls, some requiring a little bit of scrambling among overgrowth of bushes on a wood-planked trail.

After seeing the waterfalls, return to the main trail and finish the rest of the hike to the lake. The blue-green glacier water is cold and when exposed for an extended period of time, can cause hypothermia. But it’s perfect for cooling off refreshment drinks…


or wild berries foraged along the way


While having lunch on the lake shore, look for the waterfalls rushing down from the jagged snow peaks.

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And be grateful of the nature our beautiful Pacific Northwest has to offer!

Driving Directions:

Take the Mountain Loop Highway east from Granite Falls. Pass by the Verlot Ranger Station, where you can buy a Northwest Forest Pass if you need one. Continue to the end of the pavement (about 31 miles from Granite Falls), and then go another 3.5 miles. Turn right at the road signed “Elliot and Goat Lakes.” This is FR-4080, but the road number is not clearly marked. The parking lot is at the end of the good gravel road.

Bonus Sight:

Big Four Ice Caves is a short(2.2 miles round trip) hike off the Mountain Loop Highway. There are viewpoints for Big Four Mountain and a meadow of wildflowers beside the trail. In late spring you will see trillium, then valerian, queens cup and some nice stands of bright magenta fireweed. Do not go into or climb on top of the caves! They are really snow caves under an avalanche chute and can collapse at any time without warning.

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