Those who like walking uphill will love the Goat Mountain Trail! Starting at an elevation of 2,500 feet, the trail begins climbing right away. After about a dozen switchbacks and one mile of distance, the trail levels off and heads west along an improbable little sidehill ridge, likely a lateral moraine or possibly a fault scarp in this geologically jumbled terrain.
The cedar snags along the way are reminders of a huge fire that burnt the entire mountainside a hundred years ago. The new firs and hemlock provide shade that keeps the understory and brush to a minimum — a trail maintainer’s delight! Keep your eyes peeled and you may spot a Western White Pine cone on the trail; evidence that one of these rare trees is nearby.
At the 2-mile mark, a sign signaling the entrance to the Mount Baker Wilderness is passed. Watch for a faint trail leading off to the east. This is the unsigned “Old Goat Trail” which leads to a former lookout site. The lookout is long gone, but will be of interest to lookout buffs. Many lookouts were built at elevations below the high summits as the high peaks were often enshrouded with clouds. Lower lookouts often afforded a better view.
Around 2.7 miles, views start to open up for real. Continue up through meadows to a great viewpoint on a 5,200-foot knob. The official trail follows a spectacular ridge crest for another one-half mile terminating at 5,600 feet with views to craggy Mounts Sefrit, Shuksan, Baker and many more. An unofficial trail continues another 0.8 mile and 1,000 vertical feet to the false summit of 6,600-foot West Goat Mountain.
WTA Pro-Tip: Camp near this trailhead by staying at the Silver Fir Campground, just a stone’s throw up Highway 542 from the turn off on Hannegan Road.