Pacific Crest Trail: Best Weekend - Goat Rocks Crest, WA

This 22.5-mile trip sticks to high ridges that serve up outstanding views of the Cascade's infamous volcanoes.
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This 22.5-mile trip sticks to high ridges that serve up outstanding views of the Cascade's infamous volcanoes.

In a state that's hardly short on splendor, Goat Rocks may be the PCT's aesthetic high point. For half of the stretch between White Pass and Walupt Lake, the path straddles a 7,000-foot ridge, affording pinup-quality panoramas of Rainier, Adams, and St. Helens. The scenery closer at hand doesn't suck, either: You'll cross Cispus Basin, where streams plunge off cliffs amid fireweed, lupine, and pearly everlasting; and Snowgrass Flats, carpeted in its namesake puffy white flowers. For more waterfalls and wildflowers, camp at McCall Basin, .5 mile off the PCT via the old Cascade Crest Trail. Until mid-July, you might need an ice axe and crampons for snow crossings, especially on the Packwood Glacier.

Trail Facts

  • Distance: 36.2

Waypoints

PCT1463

Location: 46.453068, -121.431396

Nannie Ridge Trail near Sheep Lake has very nice camping, good swimming and views towards Mt. Adams. If you continue a little further, the views become much more dramatic!

PCT1464

Location: 46.472233, -121.431137

Ridge offers beautiful views of the Goat Rocks and Klickton Divide. Continue N through one of the most scenic sections of the entire PCT.

PCT1465

Location: 46.482948, -121.434364

Head NW from Cispus Pass; look for herds of mountain goats that often hang out below the pass to the SE in the Klickitat headwaters

PCT1466

Location: 46.489883, -121.434753

Pass a spectacular camp near small clump of trees; enjoy the alpen glow on the mountain face that rises above campsite

PCT1467

Location: 46.490383, -121.435066

Cispus River crossing.

PCT1468

Location: 46.489899, -121.443169

Trail passes below a 20-ft. waterfall

PCT1469

Location: 46.487366, -121.44413

Pass decent camps perched on this steep slope over the Cispus River

PCT1470

Location: 46.485783, -121.451164

Pass another camp

PCT1471

Location: 46.487568, -121.459633

Stay R @ Bypass Trail jct.

PCT1472

Location: 46.493332, -121.46405

Pass a camp

PCT1473

Location: 46.495083, -121.464119

Pass spring

PCT1474

Location: 46.498615, -121.464066

Stay straight @ Snowgrass Trail jct.; continue N

PCT1475

Location: 46.511566, -121.464966

Yelverton Shelter site: No shelter exists here anymore. U-shaped stone walls make a good windbreak in this very exposed area. There are many tent sites above and below this spot. Enjoy spectacular views of peaks, grassy slopes and communities of dwarf hemlock, alpine fir, and less-than-foot-high junipers. Look for marmots in the rocks

PCT1476

Location: 46.514351, -121.460716

Follow trail up Old Snowy Mtn.; snowslides and rockslides often destroy the trail. If conditions are sketchy, consider the PCT alternate route (it's also the access trail for the Old Snowy Summit, a worthy goal). The alternate route travels above the regular trail. From the saddle, veer L on crumbly, narrow trail.

PCT1477

Location: 46.518158, -121.455528

Begin ridge walk

PCT1478

Location: 46.5383, -121.455017

Stay straight on ridge @ jct.

PCT1479

Location: 46.540283, -121.44915

Cross creek with great alpine campsites

PCT1480

Location: 46.539116, -121.4216

Turn L and head N @ trail jct.

PCT1481

Location: 46.54385, -121.418015

Pass Lutz Lake on L

PCT1482

Location: 46.553917, -121.42012

Head NW from Tieton Pass

PCT1483

Location: 46.575401, -121.398987

Veer L @ jct. with Hidden Spring Trail

PCT1484

Location: 46.584732, -121.401169

Turn L @ Shoe Lake Trail jct.

PCT1485

Location: 46.592285, -121.400116

Stay high and veer L; continue N toward Hogback Mtn.

PCT1486

Location: 46.6063, -121.402946

Goat Rocks Wilderness boundary

PCT1487

Location: 46.617733, -121.387253

Stay R @ jct. with Chair Lift Trail

PCT1488

Location: 46.625584, -121.372932

Turn L @ jct. with trail that leads to Twin Peaks

PCT1489

Location: 46.6273, -121.374916

Pass Ginnette Lake, a tree rimmed lake

PCT1490

Location: 46.633465, -121.378067

Cross creek

PCT1491

Location: 46.643002, -121.378853

Pass trailhead

PCT1492

Location: 46.643501, -121.379364

US 12; cross to continue; or turn L, follow road to Kracker Barrel Grocery; not great resupply, staff is welcoming; find fried foods like burritos; indoor seating; laundry. Hotel to E of store has fairly decent prices; offers bunk beds, kitchen.

PCT1493

Location: 46.639332, -121.390297

White Pass @ US 12.

More PCT: Next Section | Previous Section

Split Rocks

Location: 46.510639, -121.465584

©Jack Haskel

Packwood Glacier

Location: 46.513493, -121.462479

One of two permanent glacier crossings in Goat Rocks, this shaded patch can be very icy. If so, consider going around, it's not far if you head downhill to get around. The runout isn't bad from a fall, but serious injury could result. The second patch later on is much more dangerous even though it's only 10 feet across. ©Jack Haskel

Glacial striations

Location: 46.511402, -121.465714

©Jack Haskel

Cairn

Location: 46.511959, -121.464981

Looking northwest past one of the area's many large carins at Hawkeye Point and Goat Lake. ©Jack Haskel

Klickton Divide

Location: 46.47213, -121.430878

©Jack Haskel

Cispus Pass

Location: 46.482983, -121.434532

©Jack Haskel

Campsite view

Location: 46.490284, -121.434738

Vew up the river to the mountain above the camp. ©Jack Haskel

Valley and Peaks

Location: 46.47839, -121.432861

A long-range view over the Goat Rocks. ©Jack Haskel

Clouds and valley

Location: 46.527557, -121.452789

©Jack Haskel