Yesterday I headed out to Goat Lake with a few friends. This is another favorite of mine. Nice trail with mountain views and a picturesque lake at the end.
Stats per the WTA website:
10.4 miles round trip, 1400 ft gain,
high point 3161 ft
Location: North Cascades, Mountain Loop Highway
Pass required: Northwest Forest Pass
For directions and more info visit: wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/goat-lake
It is about a 2 hour drive from Kirkland (Brickyard Park and Ride) to the trailhead. The trail starts off the Mountain Loop highway which is partially paved, partially dirt. There were a few big potholes in the road, but we made it okay with a sedan. There was one particularly bad spot on the last stretch of road after the turn to the Goat Lake trailhead so drive slowly.
On this trail there are two options. The lower Elliott Trail follows the trail more closely and is more of a traditional trail with some ups and downs. There are a couple of blow-downs to go over/under but all passable. The Upper Elliott trail is a little longer in distance and was once an old logging trail. On part of the trail you can see some stumps with notches from old logging days. This trail in my opinion is boooooring. There are a couple of mountain views that you don’t get on the lower trail, so if you have never been here it might be worth a walk, but I personally would rather go both up and down the lower trail. We ventured up on the Lower Elliot trail and back on the upper making a loop. The two trails meet after about three miles which is when you start the incline to the lake.
On the lower trail following the creek, there were a ton of blueberries that were nice and ripe, making a good trail snack. Organic Blueberries…how much would you pay for these in the store?
Most of the flowers in this section were done. I saw some dogwood, trillium, skunk cabbage and some others that I don’t know the name of. The forest along the whole trail is great. Variety of Huge trees, cedars, pine, aspen, alder.
The trails converge at a section of Alder trees. After this you will head up to the lake. You will pass through some Large old growth trees. Perfect for tree hugging. Keep an eye out for three trail markers the first is on a big root ball. The tendency is to want to go right here but you want to stay left. There ate two more ribbons along the way, stay left at both of these as well.
Don’t forget to look up on the way to the lake. There are some great mountain views. At one of the trail markers you will hear a waterfall. It is off to the left. You can bushwack/log hop (over and under logs) to get down to it but be careful!
On the final stretch to the lake there is a bushy area where there are still some wild flowers blooming beautiful with the peaks above…and then the lake. Wow.
Find a nice spot on the lake shore for a rest/lunch and enjoy your surroundings. It is worth mentioning that the bugs on this particular day were not bad, but they were there both flies and mosquitos. The lake looks swimmable (not too cold) but none of us tried. There were a lot of campers at the lake and this may be a fun place to try an overnight.
Finally the trail back on the Upper Elliot Trail. There are some views you get here that you don’t get on the lower trail, but I think next time I will skip it, it felt like it went on forever and the lower trail is much nicer.