trail running
1 day ago

I will be uploading a YouTube review shortly, filmed from the top, so if you YouTube search “Goat Island Mountain Rainier,” you should find a video with hints and tips for this route.

Most of this trail is off the beaten path, and if you’re not comfortable with route-finding you should not do it. It is definitely NOT a moderate trail, as you will see it rated. It is quite difficult, albeit wildly rewarding.

Biggest recommendation: I would not make this a loop when we do it next time. The descent (or ascent, if you’re doing it backwards from us) is through very steep, sketchy brush with no trail. Even following other’s recordings, it was not cool. You will slip, and of course you’ll catch yourself, but you will get cut up. Before warned if you are as stubborn as we were and thought, “I don’t want to backtrack! I’m just going to drop straight down to the car! No problem!“

Just look at the recordings and you will see how quickly you drop down to the trail head from Goat Island Mountain Ridge. If there was an established trail, it would not be so bad.

With that said, this is an absolutely stunning trail, once you’re on the ridge. The view of Mount Rainier is absolutely unobstructed. You can see the mouth of frying pan glacier turning out mass of waterfalls that rival the Lord of the Rings Middle Earth.

I would simply start at the frying pan Creek Trail head and go up towards Summerland. Right before the trail peels off to go up to Summerland, you simply hop down and follow frying pan creek up towards the mountain. You will eventually find a dry creek bed (summertime) if you stay to the right of the frying pan creek on your way up. Follow the dry creek bed up a steep section, picking your way through meadows.

Once you are on the ridge line, simply follow it straight up. Every once in a while you will find an established trail (boot pack) and if you find yourself tangled up in trees, keep pushing through and in 60 seconds you will find yourself back on the open ridge.

You will know you are at Goat Island Mt when you find the boulder the size of a small barbecue with a 1982 earthquake research benchmark on it. There are surrounding peaks 200 feet higher (see YouTube video), which you are welcome to walk 5 minutes up those to get an even better view of Mount Adams and even the Sunrise parking lot.

If you’re feeling tempted to drop straight down the ridge line back to the frying pan creek trail head, you are not alone. I think everyone thinks it’s easier then backtracking. I’m pretty sure that’s why this trail is considered a loop (see first recording) instead of an out and back.

Overall this is an absolutely stunning trail that is an absolute must for those who don’t mind a rather difficult, half marathon distance hike.

Sidenote: The person who rated this trail 1/5 stars did not actually do this trail. You will see according to her recording, she actually went to Summerland.

Sidenote #2: this is not a “moderate“ hike. It should definitely be rated “difficult.“