Iron Goat Trail — Tuesday, May. 24, 2016
We did the Iron Goat Loop going clockwise heading west and then east higher on the ridge. My partner and I were impressed with how much this trail has to offer. There were wildflowers all along the way and overwhelming fetes of railroad engineering. I had no idea of how extensive the tunneling and snowshed structures were in the area, at least what remains of the snowsheds. There are also lots of little reminders strewn along the ground: footings for supports, cables, spikes, timbers and rusted sheet metal. Going clockwise the gain is spread out more, the steepest section of the trail being the Corea Crossover which gains about 300 feet in about a quarter mile up to Windy Ridge. I should mention that there are waterfalls, tunnels and snowsheds on both the lower and the upper trails but the upper trail going west on the ridge has several falls that are coming over the shed walls. The Windy Ridge trail shows that time and the environment have conspired to tear down the man made structures. After traversing Windy Ridge to the Windy Point Tunnel we began the very steep descent of about 700 feet in a quarter mile back to the lower trail. Just before we headed down we met a couple that we had talked to as they were headed west on the Ridge trail. We saw them again heading back down. They had run into a black bear about a half mile west of the Windy Point tunnel. Since they were not sure if there was a cub around they decided to turn around and head back. We put in a total of 6.3 miles with a total gain of 725 feet which was just a bit over the listing in the Day Hiking Central Cascades guide. Our totals accounted for some wanderings to look at flowers and structures.