Goat Peak (Rainier)
Goat Peak (Rainier)
Sometimes you have to get away from it all in order to take it all in, and Goat Peak near Mount Rainier stands as case-in-point. While it may take several hours just to get to the trailhead, the cost of travel time is paid back ten-fold. We've seen some stunning views but few can compare to the sights that awaits all who make it to the summit of this South Cascades beauty.
From the trailhead, begin on a relatively flat path for the first quarter-mile, slowly moving to the edge of Bumping River's flood plain before hitting the first of many switchbacks at 3,200'. From here the trail gets serious, switching back through recovering forest on its way west and upwards – skirting several smaller peaks – towards American Ridge.
One of the benefits of this less-traveled trail is that you get to enjoy the hike in relative solitude, rarely encountering other hikers along the way. The downside is that the trail receives less yearly maintenance, and the track for Goat Peak can be a little narrow at times and is likely to have blowdowns and debris, especially in early season. Fear not though, the tread is typically good and easy to follow.
At 4.0 miles and 5,700', a steep section of trail gives way to a saddle on the impressively long American Ridge. Once atop, head right (northeast) at the signed junction to the final summit push onto Goat Peak. Arriving on northwest face of Goat Peak, and with only one half-mile and four-hundred feet left, encounter a punishing series of switchbacks. To add insult, the canopy gives way to full exposure, putting you face-to-tace with the elements. Press on through, the summit is well-worth the effort.
Located on the site of a former fire-lookout, the summit of Goat Peak is the perfect spot to take in some truly jaw-dropping views: Mount Rainier, Mount Adams and Mount Aix, plus Bumping Lake to the southwest, and wildflowers galore. Enjoy your lunch, take in some scenery, and pat yourself on the back for the hard work that brought you this far.
Permits & Tips
Northwest Forest Pass required. No water or toilets available. Dogs allowed on leash. Hwy 410 is typically closed each winter from November to April. Bring plenty of water, once the snow is melted, there is nothing to filter.
How to get there
From Chinook Pass on Hwy 410 (east of Mount Rainier), drive 19 miles east and take a right (south) onto Bumping River Road/FS Road 1800. Drive 6 miles further to the small parking lot and trailhead for Goat Peak on the right (north) side of the road.