backpack: Goat Rocks – Snowgrass Flat, Goat Lake, PCT & Bypass Trail

Three night backpacking trip in the Snowgrass Flats/Lily Basin area in Goat Rocks Wilderness

Day 1 – hike in to Snowgrass Flat/Lily Basin area

4.5 miles with 1,550 ft. gain

We were planning to spend four nights on this trip, but the weather made slight changes to those plans. It was hot and muggy with temps in the low 80s when we hiked in via the Snowgrass Flats trailhead to the Lily Basin Trail. From there, we scouted for a campsite. At first, it seemed like we might have a hard time finding a spot even though it was mid-week. We continued on the Lily Basin Trail, taking every side trail to find a suitable established site for six tents. We finally found the perfect pre-existing campsite next to a small wildflower meadow, good creek access for water, and views of Goat Rocks. With meadows full of wildflowers everywhere you turned, there were also lots of bugs – some biting, some just swarming.

Goat Rocks Wilderness backpacking trip

Goat Rocks Wilderness sign

Goat Rocks Wilderness backpacking trip

hiking in on the Snowgrass Trail

Goat Rocks Wilderness backpacking trip

first view of Goat Rocks on the hike in

Goat Rocks Wilderness backpacking trip

meadows beside the trail

Goat Rocks Wilderness backpacking trip

our campsite

Goat Rocks Wilderness backpacking trip

our water source, a creek near the campsite

Goat Rocks Wilderness backpacking trip

view of Goat Rocks from our campsite

Day 2 – day hike to Goat Lake

6 miles, 1,300 ft. gain

On the second day, we did a day hike to Goat Lake and the ridge below Hawkeye Point. We passed through meadow after meadow – filled with lupines, purple asters, red paintbrush, and many more colorful varieties of flowers.

It was another hot day, and most of this hike has no shade so to attempt to stay cool, I dipped my bandana in cool creek water along the way and placed it at the back of my neck.

At Goat Lake, most of the water surface was still covered with snow and ice, but several of my friends took a full plunge in the icy water anyway. I dipped my feet in several times, and the coldness of the water had an immediate numbing effect. In spite of how hot I’d been, I don’t know how they swam in it!

After relaxing at the lake for awhile, we continued on the Lily Basin Trail towards Hawkeye Point for views of Goat Lake from above, and Jordan Basin below. The next time I’m here, I hope to have time to go up to Hawkeye Point for even better views.

Goat Rocks Wilderness backpacking trip

wildflowers lining the trail

Goat Rocks Wilderness backpacking trip

view of Old Snowy Mountain

Goat Rocks Wilderness backpacking trip

view of Goat Rocks over a tarn

Goat Rocks Wilderness backpacking trip

the landscape is more open as you approach Goat Lake

Goat Rocks Wilderness backpacking trip

talus slope and Hawkeye Point

Goat Rocks Wilderness backpacking trip

waterfall next to the trail

Goat Rocks Wilderness backpacking trip

fields of lupine

Goat Rocks Wilderness backpacking trip

Goat Lake is in the bowl below Hawkeye Point

crossing a small stream on the ridge

Goat Rocks Wilderness backpacking trip

purple asters

Goat Rocks Wilderness backpacking trip

wildflowers covered most slopes in this area

Goat Rocks Wilderness backpacking trip

Goat Lake

Goat Rocks Wilderness backpacking trip

view of ice-covered Goat Lake

Goat Rocks Wilderness backpacking trip

Goat Ridge and Jordan Basin

Goat Rocks Wilderness backpacking trip

looking back at Goat Rocks and Old Snowy

Goat Rocks Wilderness backpacking trip

wildflowers!

Goat Rocks Wilderness backpacking trip

every stream was lined with various colors of flowers

Goat Rocks Wilderness backpacking trip

heading back to camp

Sunset at camp…

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Day 3 – day hike on the Snowgrass Flats, PCT and Bypass Trails

6 miles with 1,250 ft. gain

From our camp, we hiked on the Snowgrass Trail to the junction with the PCT. When we reached the junction, Goat Rocks looms large above. We turned right and headed south on the PCT. We had planned to hike to Cispus Basin, but when we reached the Bypass Trail, the effects of hiking in the heat over the past several days was getting to me and I was beginning to suffer from heat exhaustion, so we decided take a break and make a loop to head back to camp.

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Thankfully, I recovered fully that night after replenishing electrolytes and resting. I woke up to the sound of rain at about 11pm, with lightning and thunder that lasted for about two hours.

Day 4

The rain picked up again in the morning, so we set up our camp kitchen in a small opening in the trees, staying dry while we cooked breakfast and made coffee. I pulled a weather report on my InReach to see that more thunderstorms were expected later in the day, so we cut our trip short, packing up and hiking out via the same way we hiked in.

Goodbye for now, Goat Rocks! I’m sure I’ll be back.

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