Trip Report    

Backpack - Snowgrass Flats, Cispus Basin, Old Snowy & Goat Lake

The dry hot weather in beautiful Goat Rocks Wilderness didn't hold us back from enjoying views of volcanoes, lake, waterfall, and tons and tons of fellow backpackers.

  • Road rough but passable
  • The trails were dry, well-maintained, and clear of obstacles. There is one log across the trail from Snowgrass Flats trailhead to the flats but there is a well-worn path around it. No need to climb. There are enough water sources in the area even though many of the smaller creek beds are dried up. The weather was unusually scorching for Labor Day weekend. The highs reached the mid-90s each day, and the evenings were warm enough not to need sleeping bags (or at least not be zipped up in them). Surprisingly, very few bugs even around water sources and Goat Lake.

There is a very dusty 16-mile gravel road approach to the trailhead after driving through Packwood. The washboard and potholes are not too bad but the sheer length is a bit taxing. When we arrived around 9:15 AM on Saturday morning, the parking lot at the Snowgrass Flats trailhead was already overflowing from the adventurers who arrived before us. No privy.

Eight of us hiked up to Alpine Camp and found an area open enough for all of us although some of us not as comfortably as others. There were at least three other parties spread out in our area as well. Our camp area had good views of Mt. Adams and Lily Basin but unfortunately other parties ahead of us nabbed the better view spots. We reached our camp around 1 PM.

Part of the party went to the PCT/Old Snowy Mountain in the afternoon, while another part of the party went to Goat Lake. From various viewpoints, you could see Mt. Adams, Mt. St. Helens and unfortunately, the wildfires. From Old Snowy, you could also see Mt. Rainier.

That evening, we decided to change our itinerary and stay at our camp for two nights instead of switching camps to Upper Jordan Basin the next day. Partly it was for better access to side trips. Partly it was to avoid having to compete with the hundreds of others in GRW for a new campsite.

On our second day, the whole group hiked in the morning to Cispus Pass with some folks staying in the Cispus Basin area all day and others spending part of the afternoon at Goat Lake in the other direction. Visibility dropped considerably on Day Two as the smoke from wildfires rolled in.

We broke camp at 8 AM on Monday morning to beat the hiker crowd down the trail and beat the car traffic back to the city. We arrived at the cars around 10:15 AM and headed back. The drive back was extremely smoky from wildfires.

The group was great. Great attitudes and flexibility. Everyone was helpful to each other's needs and desires.

Day One: OW to camp (5 mi, 1,500 t.e.g.); RT to Old Snowy Mountain (4 mi, 1,000 t.e.g.)
Day Two: RT to Cispus Pass (8 mi, 1,500 t.e.g.); RT to Goat Lake (4 mi, 500 t.e.g.)
Day Three: OW to trailhead (5 mi)

Total stats, in general: 26 mi, 4,500 ft t.e.g.

Photo credit: Siona W.