Goat Lake Loop

Mt. Adams from the Goat Lake trail

View of Mt. Adams from the Goat Lake trail

During September’s cold snap Steve and I decided it would be a good idea to hit the trails for a quick overnighter in the Goat Rocks Wilderness. Braving sleet and below freezing temperatures we hiked up to Snowgrass Flat, then over to Goat Lake and down Jordan Basin to complete a loop hike starting at the Snowgrass Trailhead.

Quick Stats

Distance: 13 miles (with tons of options for side trips, ours ended up being around 16 miles)

Time: 2 days or more

Difficulty: Moderate (only because of the exposure and 3000 ft. elevation gain)

Season: End of July to October

Dog Friendly: Yes, as long as they know to stay on the trail and are confident walking on narrow trails with steep drop offs

Pros: Stunning views of Mt. Adams, wildflowers, mountain goats, plenty of water

Cons: busy trail, horse use in places, weather can change quickly

Day 1

On the first day we hiked up to Snowgrass flat on trail #96, a pretty straightforward easy 4 mile hike. After continuing about a mile past the flat to find a site closer to day two’s destination, and finding the best sites already taken, we ended up backtracking to the flat and camping near a pretty little creek. Shortly after we set up camp a small storm blew in and brought with it sleet, hail and very cold temps. We were so happy we packed warmly and brought our waterproof gear.

Wildflowers at Snowgrass Flat

There were still tons of wildflowers in Snowgrass Flat

If we hadn’t been worried about the weather we could have done one of the great side trips on the PCT over to Cispus Basin or up to the summit of Old Snowy, both have been highly recommended by fellow hikers.

Wildflower filled meadow on Lily Basin trail between Snowgrass Flat and Goat Lake

Atleast our detour to find a suitable camp led us to this wildflower filled meadow on the Lily Basin trail between Snowgrass Flat and Goat Lake.

Day 2

As I was laying in the tent debating whether to leave my positively toasty Marmot sleeping bag or not, I looked up and thought “Wow, there’s no condensation we must have vented the tent really well.” NOT, all that condensation was FROZEN. The whole meadow had a frozen layer of frost/ice over it, but happily we woke up to a stunning view of Mt. Adams peeking through the trees on the other side of the flats. We were glad to see the skies had cleared and we would finally have some views. A hiker we passed on the trail said his thermometer read 22 degrees Fahrenheit….brr, no wonder everything was frozen.

Mt. Adams from Snowgrass Flat

Good morning and goodbye clouds. Our morning view of Mt. Adams.

Lily Basin Trail Sign

Continue on the Lily Basin trail to get to Goat Lake.

Wildflowers Goat Rocks Wilderness

Bring on the wildflowers; they’re never ending on the beautiful trail.

The hike over to Goat Lakes on the Lily Basin trail (#86) is pretty moderate, just a slow and steady uphill with spectacular views of the valley, wildflowers, and Mt. Adams. After about 3 miles you’ll reach Goat Lake, which was still partially frozen in September. If you’re lucky you might see some mountain goats up on the slope behind the lake; we saw at least 20 mountain goats above the lake.

Wildflowers with Mt. Adams in background

Didn’t I promise you views and wildflowers!!!

View of the valley from the Lily Basin trail before Goat Lake

View of the valley and Mt. Adams from the Lily Basin trail before you reach Goat Lake.

 

Goat Lake, Goat Rocks Wilderness

Goat Lake still partially frozen….maybe if you have really amazing eyes you can see the mountain goats on the slope behind the lake.

Hiking down from the lake the trail is fairly narrow and was even muddy in a couple places, so watch your step. If you turn around and look back the way you came you have a great view of Old Snowy.

Old Snowy, Goat Rocks WIlderness

Here’s your view of Old Snowy.

Less than a mile past the lake is a junction which takes you up to the top of Hawkeye Point and over to Lily Basin. To complete the loop continue straight and head down into gorgeous Jordan Basin,which looks like it just drops off at the base. There is a really pretty campsite near the bottom, although fairly exposed.

Jordan Basin, Goat Rocks Wilderness

The trail through steep Jordan Basin. The trail in this picture is characteristic of the trails on this loop hike.

Continue on trail 95 or to check out the Goat Ridge lookout detour to 95A which rejoins 95 as it heads back down to the start of your hike. To complete the loop either walk on the road back to your car or take the trail marked Snowgrass Flats that goes through Berry Patch and over to where your car is parked at the Snowgrass trailhead.

As you pack for this trip don’t forget the Ten Essentials and to pack your layers.

Planning Resources:

100 Classic Hikes in Washington
by Ira Spring and Harvey Manning

One Night Wilderness: Portland: Quick and Convenient Backcountry Getaways within Three Hours of the City
by Douglas Lorain

Washington Trail Association

The Ten Essentials

10 Essentials for Backpacking

Everything you need for safe backpacking: navigation, sun protection, insulation, illumination, first-aid, fire, repair kit, nutrition, hydration, and emergency shelter

If you’re headed in to the wilderness don’t be an idiot….be PREPARED! Shit can hit the fan….and it eventually will. Here are the 10 Essentials necessary for safe wilderness travel.

1. Navigation

Delorme PN-60 GPS
Topographic map and compass….and make sure you know how to use them. The time to learn is not when you’re lost in the wilderness. We always take a topo, compass, and GPS…you never know what could happen.

2. Sun Protection

Sunscreen and sunglasses….especially above treeline, or in the high desert.

3. Insulation

Layering is the easiest way to regulate your body temperature. Make sure to pack warm and waterproof clothing. Living in the Pacific Northwest I ALWAYS pack my Patagonia Torrentshell Jacket; it’s light enough and does an excellent job blocking wind and rain…and it didn’t cost an arm and a leg. Check the weather ahead of time and pack appropriately. It can get cold and windy especially at high elevations.

4. Illumination

A headlamp and/or a flashlight. Pack your headlamp for hands free light around camp and on the trail, but don’t forget to pack extra batteries.

5. First-aid supplies

And a couple Band-Aids don’t count. Make sure to pack a real first-aid kit with antiseptic wipes, neosporin, Band-Aids, tape, sterile gauze, pain-reliever, and butterfly bandages. If you’re taking your dogs make sure to pack for them too. Dove-Lewis Animal Hospital puts on a FREE clinic that discusses basic animal first-aid and gives great advice for trailside animal care. The next clinic is Nov. 3, 2012.

6. Fire

Bring multiple sources of firestarters. Lighter, waterproof matches, magnesium fire starters are all great and easy to use. We also take some strike-anywhere firestarters, which work great if you’re trying to get a fire started in wet conditions.

7. Repair kit

Knife, duct tape, needle and thread, multi-tool and whatever else you could see yourself needing to fix gear on the fly.

8. Nutrition

You need to eat. Make sure to pack extra and make it count, you never want to run out of food on the trail. Yes, you can pack chocolate…and I think you should, but don’t forget to pack some protein, fruit/veg and complex carbs. If you’re new to backpacking a great way to try a few different meals is with this Mountain House® Kit.

9. Hydration

You won’t last long without water…and getting giardia or some other waterborne parasite will put a damper on your trip, so pack a filter, SteriPEN, or purification tablets. You’re dog can get sick too, so be prepared to filter/treat their water too.

10. Emergency Shelter

If backpacking you’ll obviously have a tent or some other shelter device planned, but even on a daytrip accidents happen, so at the very least pack a reflective emergency blanket or bivy.

Broken Top Loop

Broken Top from Park Meadow

Broken Top from Park Meadow; Day 1

Quick Stats

Distance: 23+ (our hike was approximately 26.5)

Time: 3 days

Difficulty: Difficult

Season: End of July to beginning of October

Dog Friendly: To Golden Lake, yes; to Green Lakes, yes; Green Lakes to end of the loop, NO!!!

Pros: Gorgeous meadows, views of Broken Top, all Three Sisters, Mt. Jefferson, Mt. Washington, and Mt. Bachelor

Cons: Busy trail that is pounded to dust, off-trail section is over steep, sometimes loose rock, no water source on third day after leaving the glacier, no fire allowed at golden or green lakes

Day 1

The trail begins at a parking lot just before the Driftwood Creek Campground at Three Creeks Lake. For the loop follow the signs to Park Meadow. The dusty trail will switchback up to the ridge where you might get a glimpse or two of the surrounding mountains before descending to the Snow Creek irrigation ditch and a four way junction, turn left here and continue onward to Park Meadow. Y

ou will be greeted with wildflowers, a view of Broken Top, and pretty Park Creek. This is a great place to take a break and refill water. You’ve made it about 6.4 miles at this point. Cross the creek and continue gradually uphill.

Park Meadow Broken Top

View of wildflowers and Broken Top from Park Meadow.

At about 7.2 miles there is a dusty unsigned trail that leads to Golden Lake, your camp for the night, once you reach the lake cross the outlet creek on the left and continue a bit further to the inlet creek, here follow a boot path up along the creek to some amazing campsites.

Golden Lake Camp

Our camp above Golden Lake with Broken Top in the background.

We camped near the creek about a mile or so up the hill, but it’s rumored there are a couple of tarns just a bit further that have even better views. We, however, were exhausted and decided that our unofficial campsite with views of Broken Top and South Sister was perfect.

Golden Lake, Middle and North Sister

The view on our hike back down the hill from our campsite shows Middle and North Sister reflected in Golden Lake.

 

Day 2

Make sure to wake up early to watch the morning sun dance across the mountains and light them up with a red glow. Today, hike back down to the main trail and take a left. The trail will ascend to about 7000 feet at a pass between Broken Top and South Sister and then descends again into the Green Lakes Basin. The basin is super crowded, has designated campsites, and fires are prohibited so I recommend continuing on to camp closer to the day 3 push up Broken Top.

Green Lakes Basin

The parting view of Green Lakes Basin looking toward the pass you just came from.

Meadow, Green Lakes, Broken Top

Meadow with a great creek for refilling water bottles with Broken Top in the background.

Once you leave the basin the trail continues through meadow and open forest, so make sure your water supplies are good. You will come to a Y in the trail, keep to the left toward Broken Top. Once you reach Camp Creek and the Drainage start looking for a place to camp. The better camps are uphill, but there is one nice camp about a ¼ mile down the drainage, that has a nice sheltered meadow, that was perfect for an afternoon nap.

Day 3

Today is going to be long, hot and exposed, so start early and put on some sunscreen!!! Make sure ALL of your water bottles/platypus bags are full, and I recommend filling up before you leave Camp Creek behind and at any other decent source of water before you reach the Tam McArthur Rim Trail because there is NO water once you reach the rim, it’s 7+ miles without water.  To reach the Bend Glacier and the iceberg filled lake that it fills, follow Camp Creek till it starts to level off and then head east toward a rock outcropping, we hiked just to the right of this and were able to pick up a trail that we followed nearly all the way to the lake.

View of Mt. Bachelor from Broken Top boot path

View of Mt. Bachelor from the boot path leading up to the lake in front of Bend Glacier. At this point you’re almost to the lake.

Frozen Lake on top of Broken Top Mountain

Hey look, there are wildflowers even up here near this partially frozen lake on Broken Top.

After you leave the lake, begin the long hot push to the rim trail. Take care crossing the snowfields and remember that big rocks move too. Once you reach the rim “trail” you will have amazing views of all the surrounding mountains. The path here is sketchy and kinda comes and goes as you climb over and around rocks; I promise that the trail gets better the further east you go. Just continue on the trail, through the dust, and dry forest.

Broken Top Views to the North

So, I finally dragged my ass up the hill to the rim and it was totally worth it. You know it’s been a hard hike if Sal is resting in the shade. From up top you can see the Three Sisters, Mt. Washington, and Mt. Jefferson to the North and Mt. Bachelor….and maybe Mt. Thielson to the South. Beautiful!!!

Tam McArthur Rim

This pic makes the trail look “not so bad” don’t be fooled; day three is a pretty crappy hike and you’ll be wondering how you got sucked into it.

Our poor dog Jedi, would race to each shady spot and lie down. I would NOT recommend any part of day 3 for your pup, if you must take your dog invest in booties, joint supplements and take some baby aspirin with you as well. I wish someone had warned us. Steve and the dogs finished their water less than halfway through the day’s hike, so we were left to ration out the remaining 1 ½ Liters that I still had. We were very relieved to get back to the car, blast the AC and get rehydrated.

GPX File of Our Hike

I’ve included a link to a GPX file of my hike around Broken Top as recorded by my Delorme Earthmate PN-60. You can load this file into Google Earth or any GPX-compatible GPS device to follow my path.

Download the Broken Top GPX file here

Photo Aug 23, 16 50 36 Photo Aug 23, 16 51 17 Photo Aug 23, 16 53 02 Photo Aug 23, 16 53 36 Photo Aug 23, 16 55 13 Photo Aug 23, 16 55 27 Photo Aug 23, 16 55 53 Photo Aug 23, 16 56 47

Planning Resources

US Forest Service Central Oregon Website great for general info and trail conditions

Portland Hikers Field Guide a great resource for trip reports, tips, and insider info