# 27 & 28 Goat Lake Loop & Snowgrass Flats
Updated: Oct 7, 2020
Goat Lake is a charming alpine lake that can be accessed via the Goat Rocks Trail #95 (going clockwise) or the Snowgrass Flats Trail #96 (going counter-clockwise). The loop passes through old-growth forests, alpine meadows, and rocky crests. It offers stunning views of Mt. Rainier, Mt. St. Helens, and Mt. Adams. A popular off-trail traverse grants access to the Packwood Glacier and the Pacific Crest Trail. Multiple bypasses reconnect the PCT with #96.
Distance: 13.6 miles | GPS: N 46 27.838, W 121 31.136
Elevation Gain: 2,480 ft | Peak: 7, 100 ft
Goat Rocks Wilderness | My Hiking Master Post
For our first night, we stayed next to Jordan Creek. There were probably 15 groups headed up to Goat Lake. So, we called it quits early and found a really nice campsite near the creek. The camp at Goat Lake is incredibly popular and also very sparse with regard to plant life. If solitude or privacy is a concern (or you prefer tree cover), I advise camping at Jordan Creek instead of Goat Lake.
In the morning, we headed up to Goat Lake and hung out for a while. Afterwards, we took the off-trail traverse to the Packwood Glacier. The glacier is accessed by crossing a meadow and then crawling up a steep scramble. The scramble is difficult and the best path can be identified by looking a the color of the rocks: hikers' boots have left red dust on the easiest path.
From the Packwood Glacier, we connected directly to the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). You can't miss it - the trail is incredibly popular and follows the edge of the glacier. A lot of people weren't wearing masks which was frustrating. But, we felt like we were able to do a fair amount of social distancing. If you're looking for more solitude, skip the PCT and stay on Trail #96 or try this trek on a weekday.
For our second night, we camped on the Bypass Trail which has multiple campsites and some water access. North of the Alpine Camp, water is scarce and difficult to access until you get to Goat Lake. So, make sure to bring plenty of water for the descent from Goat Lake.
Parking is super sparse. By the time we returned on Sunday AM, both trail heads were full - plus the side of the road for a mile or so. Be prepared. It's better to camp at the trail head and start fresh in the morning, especially given the long drive. The road is passable for all vehicles but it's pretty full of pot holes so keep that in mind. All in all, this was probably one of my favorite backpacking trips. We didn't see any wildlife but the scenery and fall foliage really made it worth it. I'd recommend this to anyone looking for beautiful vistas and a tough intermediate hike.