Snowgrass Flats and Goat Lake Loop Trail is a 12.2 mile heavily trafficked loop trail located near Packwood, Washington that features a lake and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from July until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.
dogs on leash
A long hike into some very beuatiful country and awesome NW vistas If you love pristine wilderness and beautiful views of major mountains and broad green meadows, this hike is for you. We took it in as a day hike of 12 miles, which I would not do again or recommend. We took 96 through Snowgrass Flats up to the PCT, then along the PCT until we could see Goat Lake. Hiking along the PCT beneath the Goat Rocks peaks was a real treat. it was sunny but hazy so we did not see as far as we would have liked, but it was still great. Mt. Adams dominates the view to the south. At the point that we stopped, Mt. Raineer was looming through the gap to the north. Out to the west there were miles of hazy ridges and lesser peaks fading into the distance. Our kids all enjoyed it, though Dave (7) and Grace (11) were getting tired toward the end. Sam (15) loved it all. next time we will camp in one of the campsites or meadows, and then do some of the peaks or Lily Basin to Goat Lake. You could spend a week up there and not run out of things to do. This is possible to do as an overnight backpacking trip in one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. You will be camping at an alpine lake at the head of a glacial valley with Mt. Adams perfectly framed in the distance. If you go in the summer you will see hundreds of wildflowers and Goat Rocks Wilderness area is called so for a reason.... you will see goats.. lots of them. You will also see marmots and there is a good chance you may see a herd of elk!
I hiked the Snowgrass Flats loop in two days from 8-20-16 to 8-21-16.
I started from Snowgrass Flats Trailhead #96 and ended at Berry Patch trailhead #95, then took the connecting trail #96a back to the car. This is the typical hike and the first time I’ve done it as an overnight. It can be done in one day but it’d be along day.
As you’d expect, the parking at Snowgrass was about full for a Saturday morning at 9am. I like to count the number of people I see on the trail, and always loose track around 20. I was surprised by the number of people ending their hike on Saturday morning. Must have been around 10 or so before Snowgrass. That was encouraging since it meant the possibility of more sites.
Most campsites were taken even by Noon and it took a bit of searching to find one. I found one but it was very close to other sites. I didn’t want to camp in their backyard and opted to look elsewhere. After talking to a couple on Lily Basin Trail #86, I found on a site about half way to Goat Lake. That Saturday was 95 degrees and while there were trees, most were small providing minimal shading. The flies were out in force in the shade and made sitting annoying. Nothing some mosquito repellent couldn’t fix though. I was lucky enough to be close to a creek, so getting water was easy. The evening as warm and with no chance of rain didn’t use the rainfly.
The next morning was clear and cool (mid 70s), a nice change from the high 90’s we’ve had the days before. Luckily, the wild flowers were out and made an already stunningly gorgeous even better. Goat Lake had a quite a few tents setup and many people were leaving. That weekend was blue sky’s and clear and I was awestruck by the view from Goat Lake.
I was glad to see the most stunning field of wild flowers on Lily Basin Trail #86 between Goat Lake and the Junction of Goat Ridge Trail #95. Every color you could imagine. Blue, Red, Purple, Yellow, White. Jordan Basin was beautiful and there were no campers that I could see. Water is plentiful here as is most of Lily Basin Trial #86 from Snowgrass to Jordan Basin.
I was surprised to see a few campsites on Goat Ridge Trail #95 near Jordan Basin. I’ve never noticed them before. Goat Ridge Trail was different and nicer trail than I remember. Very nice with elevation gain, or decent in this case not too bad. I opted not to hike Goat Ridge Lookout trail and take to group who was considering it.
I made it back to the car about 2pm and talked to a family almost ready to start their 3 day hike. All and all, you can’t go wrong with this hike. Expect people and good views, even it if’s cloudy.
Saturday, 7-16-16, I hiked to Goat Lake on Snowgrass Flats trail #96 and Lily Basin Trail #86. I have never hiked this so early in the year and was concerned about the snow level. Previous reviews indicated a snow free trail so I decided to go.
As you’d expect, there were about 40 cars parked at the trailhead with room for more. The weather was partly sunny and warm, in the mid 70s and perfect for hiking. I only packed my day pack because I wasn’t able to get my backpack and gear ready in time. 30 minutes into the hike, I was sorry I didn’t have it.
I’d arrived at the trailhead late and most people were already on the trail. I talked with a small group at the TH and we leapfrogged a few times on the way up. Some people were coming down from overnights on Friday. Having such a light pack, about 20 lbs, I managed to pass a couple more groups with much heavier packs.
As the reviews stated, Snowgrass trail #96 was snow free and easy to travel. There were 5 blowdowns to cross over or around but easy to navigate. Despite all the cars, there really wasn’t that many people on the trail. I stopped at Snowgrass Flats for a small break before heading to Goat Lake. All the people I passed on the trail came up shortly after me and started scouting places for their tent. Most of the closer spots were taken and they spent a good long time finding somewhere. After the break, I headed up Lily Basin Trail #86 and noticed there were a lot of tents in Alpine camp and wondered where I would go if I had my tent. Wildflowers were out. Not as many as next month, but still a lot and pretty colors.
That’s about where I saw the first random snow crossing on the trail. A small creek with packed snow on it. Nothing to cross, just a few steps plus it was pretty well tracked out. However, these snow crossings became closer together and longer the closer you go to Goat Lake. Some of the creeks were fairly big with lots of packed snow. I found myself walking on snow bridges as water was melting the snow below. Care should be used on the snow bridges as they were getting softer with each crossing and soon will melt altogether.
Goat Lake area was covered in snow. More snow than not. About a 1/8th of a mile before the lake, the trail was on tracked out snow and easy to follow. Places were slippery as you’d expect. Goat Lake itself is frozen over but starting to melt on the south edges near it’s outlet. The trail from the outlet up to and towards Jordan Basin is covered with snow also. However, some people said it’s not that bad.
I had lunch at Goat Lake and could only spend about 45 minutes there before I had to go back. Despite the snow and the cars at the trailhead, it was a great hike!!! I would do it again and I’m sure I will before the summer is out.
The trail was great, except the northern end of the trail (4.5 miles - 6.5 miles up the trail, starting from the Goat Ridge Trail head at Berry Patch) was covered in snow. The lake was completely iced over, too.
Life changing. Especially camping at night.
Awesome. Strenuous but worth it. With added side trips like a day on the PCT, we did 20+ miles in three nights. Almost no snow anywhere. Spectacular views of Mts Adams, St. Helens, Rainier, Goat Lake, and valleys like Jordan, Cispus, Packwood. Many, many campsites--not crowded despite high popularity on an August weekend.
We left PDX at 9:00 AM on Sunday morning and started walking on the trail at noon. We encountered 42 individuals descending the trail (yes, we counted) on our way to the junction of the Snow Grass Trail and the Lilly Basin Trial. We camped there three nights. Originally, we wanted to camp at Snow Grass Flats, but we scouted the area and there was limited run-off and spring water, so we settled for the abundant water at the junction. Good news came in the absence of bugs: three mosquitoes in four days, but the biting flies were a mild bother. This was our dogs first backpacking adventure; it went well. We met a few other dogs on the trail, most were very pleasant, and all were respectful.
Dogs must be allowed. We saw lots of dogs while in this area almost all off leash.
4th of July weekend I hiked up trail 96 to where it joins with the PCT above Snowgrass Flat and set up camp. Spent one day hiking north up Old Snowy and the next day south to Cispus Pass before heading out. Couldn't ask for better views.
Excellent views of of the Goat Rock peaks as well as Mt Adams. Very large concentrations of wildflowers especially near the PCT and many side trail options to the north or south. Some great campsites too.
This was a beautiful hike. Late September meant I didn't get to see many wild flowers or goats but the view was breathtaking.
I did it as a day hike. Lots of people up there, most were camping.
I wish id have gotten an earlier start. After you take forest road 21 it's a good 30 min to the trailhead.
I started at 96a which is mostly in the trees. You take trail 86 once you get into the sun where there is an intersection. That takes you all the way to goat lake and then past it and eventually intersects with 95 which brings you back to the neighboring parking lot.
The lake is very cold. But the view is spectacular. Good trail for a dog. Saw a few horses. I would have loved to camp. Spotted some nice flat spots about a thousand feet south of goat lake. Camping at the lake looked crowded and windy.
The Snowgrass Flats hike, Trail 96 can be accessed from FR 21, 3 miles west of Packwood on Hwy 12. The trailhead is near Chambers Lake. Follow the Chambers Lake signs. This hike can be done as a loop consisting of two main trails. The Snowgrass Flats trail 96 and Goat Ridge Trail 95 (the trailhead is called Berry Patch) with the Lily Basin Trail 86 connecting the two near Goat Lake. FR 21 is a washboard road all the way to Chambers and Walupt Lakes and wide enough to handle 2 way traffic.
If starting at Snowgrass, when nearing Chambers Lake, follow the sign to the trailhead. If starting at Berry Patch, continue straight passing the Snowgrass sign to the Berry Patch TH. Signs posted at the trailhead indicate this is the most popular hike in the Goat Rocks. "Expect to see at least a hundred people on the trail". And if you are going on a weekend, this is true. I went on a Saturday and parking at both trailheads was overflowing, spilling out on the road accessing the TH. You won't be hiking alone!
I did the loop counter-clockwise, by myself, as a day hike and added Hawkeye Point for a 14 mile loop that took me 9 hrs, 7.5 hrs not counting stops. I wanted to start from the Snowgrass TH and parked at the Berry Patch TH that way the car was close when done. A NW Forest Pass is required. After registering take the trail to the right accessing the Snowgrass trail in .6 miles which is level and the first 2.1 miles is pretty much level until you reach Goat Creek and the bridge crossing it. Shortly after the meadow it climbs for a bit. Soon you'll come to Bypass trail 97 with access to the PCT. Another access to the PCT is in .7 miles at the Snowgrass Flats Junction where Snowgrass trail 96 continues for another .8 miles. Some find this a shorter route when headed to the PCT.
After Bypass trail 97, the views start coming and don't stop. When you reach Snowgrass Flats they are constant. I continued onto Lily Basin Trail 86 to Goat Lake. And the views and wildflowers are breathtaking and gorgeous. Hiking this in season makes it even better with wildflowers ranging from blues, to purples, to reds, yellows and orange. Of course there was white.
There is much camping along the way in Snowgrass Flats, although some may not be seen. Most are well off the trail. Look for scramble trails heading to them. Most will have a fire ring. Fires are prohibited in and around Goat Lake. Look for signs.
Lily Basin Trails continues along a beautiful slope with a range of wildflowers, creeks and meadows. Follow it to Goat Lake. The lake was mostly frozen with ice on its northern end. And it's cold! Standing in it doesn't last long! There are places to camp and most were taken. There were about 10 tents setup and 25-40 people at the lake. Look for goats on the slopes above Goat Lake. Without binoculars, they are just white dots.
Leaving the lake I ran into the most beautiful display of Wildflowers I've ever seen, located on a slope of Hawkeye Point, but couldn't take a picture because my battery was dead. The junction of Lily Basin Trail 86 and Goat Ridge Trail 95 is a saddle. At that point anyone wanting to go up Hawkeye Point can do it from here. Plan on 1.5 hrs RT. Use caution when crossing a larger exposed snowfield. I would not want to slip in the wrong direction. The view from the point is 360 degrees and Mt. Rainier, Mt. Adams and Mount St. Helens and Lily Basin Trail 86 can be seen.
Jordan Basin is below the saddle on the west side of Goat Ridge, beautiful and nestled between Goat Ridge and an adjoining ridge. 5 Tents were setup and I'm sure one could find more sites. A great place to camp! Continue along the west slope of Goat Ridge for about a half mile and enter the forest where it will be your only view until the trailhead. This makes for a quick descent since there's nothing to look at. There are a few viewpoints along the way.
This is the single most picturesque hike I've been on and very populated. Expect to see people even on the weekdays and don't expect to hike alone! Take lots of pictures. Save your battery. Bring water and expect a long day if doing it as a day hike. But it’s well worth it!
I have been hiking the trails in the Goat Rocks Wilderness for 10 years. They never look the same; always changing with the seasons and weather. This is a great trail! The views from Hawkeye Point are amazing! Look North to see Mt Rainier, South across Goat Ridge to see Mt Adams and the tip of Mt Hood, West to see Mt St Helens, East to see Old Snowy Mountain, Ives Peak and Gilbert Peak, Cispus Pass, and straight down on the East side to peer into frozen Goat Lake. There is much to explore. Large herds of Mountain Goats live among these rocks. One can also see Deer, Elk and Black Bear on occasion. Flowers abound! Notice how frantic the bees are busy gathering nectar. Listen to the whistle of the large Marmot, a warning to others that you are there, and the squeak of the Pika, who is busy storing away plants for the next winter. The early morning sunrise is as awesome as the sunset! Water is plentiful and patches of snow will be there until winter comes. Enjoy! Leave no trace that you were there!