I planned on doing this hike a couple weeks ago but I decided to move it out and give myself more time. The Goat Lake hike is 10.4 miles. It’s about 35 miles past Granite Falls and about 35 miles past civilization and cell phone range! The Mountain Loop Highway feels like you drive way further than 35 miles. The instructions tell you to drive until the end of the pavement plus 3.5 miles, so I did. I drove to the end of the pavement, which was only a gap of about 30 feet before the pavement started again. Hmmm….That must not be the end of the pavement they were talking about! It wasn’t. Out in the middle of nowhere, where there are a ton of camping spots along the river and a lot of hiking trails to explore, you finally hit the end of the pavement. It’s for real this time! Gravel road for 3.5 miles. Total dust storm. Although my truck is normally forest green, it is clearly dirt brown now! The parking lot for Goat Lake is not very big and it was full so I joined the groups that were parking on the road.
I decided to take Lower Elliot trail out as it meanders through the forest and along the river so you get to listen to the birds and the water! My favorite! The first three or so miles is a nice stroll, then you start uphill to get to the lake. I stopped a couple of times along the way to take some photos. The waterfall just below the base of Goat Lake is pretty cool! There was a ton of water flowing done the rocks so of course I had to venture down that side trail! It alone was worth the hike!
There were a number of folks camping at the lake, but they are off to the left. The trail surrounding the lake is for day use only. Although I only saw a few people on the trail, there were quite a few at the lake already. I had to scout out the area and see if I could find a place to hang my hammock, because it is National Hammock Day! I found a nice spot overlooking the lake and I could have totally taken a nap if it weren’t for the constant bugs! Not mosquitos. These were flies, or they looked like flies, and they BITE to the point that you can feel them biting! Not fun! This made for a shorter than planned stay at the lake:( I packed up my gear and headed back down on the Lower Elliot Trail. I’ve decided I’d like to try a one night camping adventure, but no tent. Hammock sleeping, with net!
It took me 2 hours to get to the lake and 90 minutes to get back down. This trail is a decent workout. Enough sweating to let you know you are putting in some good effort! Once you get out of the forest, you get to walk through narrow trails lined with wildflowers that were over my head tall! The lake is stunning and worth the hike! No snow around the lake but you can still see some on the hills.
Another great hike to check off the list! Time to start planning a fall hike to Gem Lake. I bet it is pretty spectacular with the fall foliage!!