Summary: If you love pristine wilderness and beautiful views of major mountains and broad green meadows, this hike is for you. We took it in as a day hike of 12 miles, which I would not do again or recommend. We took 96 through Snowgrass Flats up to the PCT, then along the PCT until we could see Goat Lake. Hiking along the PCT beneath the Goat Rocks peaks was a real treat. it was sunny but hazy so we did not see as far as we would have liked, but it was still great. Mt. Adams dominates the view to the south. At the point that we stopped, Mt. Raineer was looming through the gap to the north. Out to the west there were miles of hazy ridges and lesser peaks fading into the distance. Our kids all enjoyed it, though Dave (7) and Grace (11) were getting tired toward the end. Sam (15) loved it all. next time we will camp in one of the campsites or meadows, and then do some of the peaks or Lily Basin to Goat Lake. You could spend a week up there and not run out of things to do.
Trailhead: From Portland go to Hood River, then up 141 through White Salmon to Trout Lake. Follow 23 north and follow the signs toward Randle. Take FSR 55 and then 22, following signs to Packwood and Chambers lake. A few miles after the sign for Walupt lake and just before Hugo lake take a hard right, following signs to Chambers lake on 2150. Bypass Chambers lake cutoff and take the signs to Snowgrass Trailhead 96, or Berry Patch 95 just a 1/4 mile away if you're riding horses. From points north get to Randle and then down Hwy 23 to FSR 55 and then follow the directions given above. Be preapred for a lot of dirt road and a lot of dust. Only a small part of 23 is paved. Allow 2.5 hours from Hood River. Stay with 23 - don't do what I did and identify a "shortcut" on logging roads. (Lat:46.46349 Lon:-121.51873)
Trail Guides for Goat Rocks Wilderness, Trail 96 near Packwood, WA:
Best Seasons: Year-Round
User Groups: Hikers, Dogs, Horses,
Ranger Contact: Gifford Pinchot Natl Forest, Cowlitz Valley Ranger District, Randle 360-497-1100
Localhikes Reporter: This hike was submitted by Steve Snyder, who has posted 13 other hikes on this site
Trail Reviews Submit your own review
Reviewed by SirVive on 8/26/2011
Haven't actually hiked on 96 (plan on heading up it this weekend though) but I've done the PCT through here several times. As the 5 star says - this is my personal favorite! The section from Elk Pass/Egg Butte area South to Cispus is fantastic! Love the sub-alpine stuff. Well worth a day hike but I'll warn you - bring the sleeping bag and extra food cause once you get in you won't want to leave for a month. That is ... unless the local 'air force' drives you out :) Try late Sep. as long as the snow holds off, you will have fewer bugs. If you're a night owl like me try going during a full moon - I just loved hiking from Cispus to Sheep Lake by moonlight and quitting around midnight. You can see for miles if its clear weather and full
Reviewed by Suzi on 8/23/2011
Went for the first time March 2009. Road was not passable due to snow. lesson learned. Went in July 2010. Most gorgeous hike I've ever taken. I usually hike in the Columbia River Gorge, Oregon side so it is a 150 mile drive for me to get to snowgrass but it was so worth it! I hike alone so I decided to do a day trip instead of overnight. I was mot dissappointed! Amazing views, beautiful wildlife - marmuts and mountain goat. And the topping was Goat Lake, breathtaking beauty! a little bit of snow left around the back side of the lake. I couldn't stop talking about the beauty fo the whole day. Went up and back on 96A. Was a little worried about time and wasn't sure about coming down the loop, not knowing the trail and it getting late(see n
Reviewed by TCS on 8/5/2007
8-3-07 Perfect weather in the goat rocks this weekend temps were in the upper 50's low 60's. Goat lake is about 35% covered in ice but the trails are in great shape with a minimal ammount of dust. Flowers are in bloom and the snowgrass meadows and lily. We took 96 up to goat lake and came down on 95. If I were to do it over I would do an out and back on 96 through snograss and lily basin. The trail is more senic and in better condition as far a loose rock and scree are concerned. The hike through the wooded sections is much better on 96 in my opinion. We hit the trail at 9:15 and were back at the car by 4:30 It was 3hrs up and about 2.5 down of actual hike time including stops but excluding 1hr lunch at goat lake. About 13 miles.
Reviewed by bob on 1/6/2007
I really liked my visit to the area. We stayed 2 nights and loved it. I plan to go again in the spring of 2007
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