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

For this three night backpacking trip, we started at the Snowgrass trailhead and hiked in to the junction with the Lily Basin trail, then setup our tents at one of the many campsites in the Alpine Camp area.

TRIP PLANNING

Total mileage for four days: 20.4 miles with 3,894 ft. elevation gain

Day 1: hike in to Alpine Camp area

For this three night backpacking trip, we started at the Snowgrass trailhead and hiked in to the junction with the Lily Basin trail (about 4.5 miles, 1,500 ft. gain). We setup our tents at one of the many campsites in the Alpine Camp area. Within a short walk, there are views of Mount Adams, Goat Rocks, Goat Ridge, Mount St. Helens, and wildflower meadows with streams. For filtering water, we walked about a quarter of a mile to a beautiful stream. Wildflowers in bloom included avalanche lilies, heather, paintbrush, buttercup, asters, and more. Bear grass was abundant along sections too.

Goat Rocks Wilderness backpacking trip

Snowgrass trailhead

Goat Rocks Wilderness backpacking trip

Goat Creek

Goat Rocks Wilderness backpacking trip

bridge over Goat Creek, about 2 miles in

Goat Rocks Wilderness backpacking trip

first view of Mount Adams from the trail

Goat Rocks Wilderness backpacking trip

our camp near Lily Basin trail junction

Goat Rocks Wilderness backpacking trip

Lily Basin trail

Goat Rocks Wilderness backpacking trip

Western Pasqueflower in bloom

Goat Rocks Wilderness backpacking trip

field of heather in bloom

Goat Rocks Wilderness backpacking trip

trail to our water access

Goat Rocks Wilderness backpacking trip

Goat Rocks

Day 2: day hike towards Goat Lake

On the second day, we did a day hike towards still-frozen Goat Lake. We hiked about 2 miles, then turned around at a snow bridge over a creek. There were several larger snowfields to cross, and with the warmth of summer, the snow was melting and making it not as safe to travel across them. We did see a few people crossing the snow bridges, but decided not to go any farther since there were more to cross on the way to Goat Lake.

Goat Rocks Wilderness backpacking trip

view of Goat Rocks from Lily Basin trail

Goat Rocks Wilderness backpacking trip

heading to Goat Lake

Goat Rocks Wilderness backpacking trip

snow was still melting and draining down the hillsides around us

Goat Rocks Wilderness backpacking trip

waterfall near a large talus slope

Goat Rocks Wilderness backpacking trip

happy backpacker

Goat Rocks Wilderness backpacking trip

avalanche lilies

Goat Rocks Wilderness backpacking trip

Hawkeye Point and Goat Lake

 

Day 3: day hike Bypass Trail loop

On the third day, we took the Snowgrass trail across to the PCT, then headed north for about a mile. We were heading towards Old Snowy, but turned around at a large snowfield with a steep slope, opting to explore farther south on the PCT.

Goat Rocks Wilderness backpacking trip Goat Rocks Wilderness backpacking trip Goat Rocks Wilderness backpacking trip Goat Rocks Wilderness backpacking trip Goat Rocks Wilderness backpacking trip

The Bypass trail was very different from everything else we had seen. We felt like we were hiking through fairy land. Bear grass filled the bright green meadows.

Goat Rocks Wilderness backpacking trip Goat Rocks Wilderness backpacking trip Goat Rocks Wilderness backpacking trip

Back at camp, we explored the area at sunset, and I ran around with my camera yelling “Mount Adams is pink!”

Goat Rocks Wilderness backpacking trip Goat Rocks Wilderness backpacking trip Goat Rocks Wilderness backpacking trip Goat Rocks Wilderness backpacking trip

 

Day 4: hike out

On the last morning, I got up before everyone else and walked around to get more photos in the early light. We packed up and headed out, knowing that rain was likely on the way. Sure enough, on the way out, it started sprinkling, then the rain picked up, it hailed for a bit, then poured rain while thunder roared. It didn’t get too close until we were back at the trailhead, sopping wet and ready to head home.