backpack: Goat Rocks – Snowgrass Flat & Goat Lake
With high temps, biting black flies, and wildfire smoke, we cut this trip short after two nights but still had a great time in this scenic location.
- distance & elevation gain to campsite: 5.25 miles, 1,500 ft. gain
- day hike options: Goat Lake, Old Snowy, Cispus Basin
- best months: mid-July to September
- location: Goat Rocks Wilderness; nearest town: Packwood
- land management: Gifford Pinchot National Forest: Cowlitz Valley Ranger District
- trail conditions: Snowgrass Trail #96
- hike description: Washington Trails Association – Snowgrass Flat
- permits: self-issued at the trailhead
- trailhead pass: none required
Day 1 – hike in to campsite
This was one of the hottest hikes in I’ve ever done… it was 85 degrees when we started at the trailhead. It was also the worst biting black flies I’ve ever experienced on a backpacking trip, biting me at least 20 times on my legs while hiking in.
When we reached the junction with the Lily Basin trail, we started looking for a campsite.
We continued for about half a mile and found an excellent site with plenty of space to spread out, plus it had great views in three directions.
At night, we watched the colors change on Goat Rocks at sunset. I setup my camera on a rock with a mini tripod so I could capture the night sky.
Day 2 – hike to Goat Lake
We woke up with the smell of smoke in the air and there was a thick haze obliterating views. We decided to do a short hike to Goat Lake, taking our time to make the most of the day.
We saw more people at Goat Lake than we did anywhere else on this trip. I didn’t get any good photos of the lake since it was so hazy. The wildflowers, however, stole the day at the creek outlet. There were so many… mainly pink and yellow monkey flowers mixed with lupines and red paintbrush.
Back at camp, the smoke was getting thicker so we decided to pack up in the morning and cut our trip short by two nights.
Day 3 – hike out to trailhead
I didn’t take pics on the hike out… the smoke was thick and we were anxious to get back to our cars. I was hoping to make it to Cispus Basin on this trip, so I’ll have to go back another time and hopefully will finally get to make it there.