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Goat Creek Loop

South Cascades


South Cascades -- Mount St. Helens
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20.2 miles, roundtrip


Gain: 3200 ft.
Highest Point: 5250 ft.


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Parking Pass/Entry Fee

Northwest Forest Pass

Escape the crowds on this two-day backpacking adventure into the less-traveled areas on the north side of Mount St. Helens.

Your first day is a big one, so try to get an early start—you have 11.6 miles and 2,600 vertical feet to tackle. Begin on the Goat Creek Trail, which rises and falls like a mild roller coaster. You’ll cross a few mossy creeks and hike through red alder and western hemlock before coming to 150-foot Leona Falls, a little more than a mile in.

As the trail gets closer to Goat Creek, you’ll have views of several small waterfalls. Near 2.3 miles is the junction that marks the start of the loop; veer left, cross a babbling brook and continue upstream along Goat Creek before fording it at 2.9 miles. This is a good spot to top off your water bottles before the climbing starts.

Continuing on, ascend steeply through shaded forest before a viewpoint opens up at 4.5 miles. Take a breather here before ascending again for another mile. Through the next several miles, the trail crosses wildflower fields and skirts a shallow (sometimes dry) lake.

At 11.4 miles is the junction with the Goat Mountain Trail. Turn left and proceed for about 200 yards, then head right at the junction for about 0.1 mile to Deadmans Lake. Find a designated camping spot, drop your gear and relax and enjoy the serenity of this scenic pool.

The hike out is easier than coming in, with just 8.6 miles and 600 feet of elevation to complete the loop. From Deadmans Lake, set off along the forested ridgeline. This up-and-down section boasts large wildflower and huckleberry displays in the summer and offers a few tiny peeks of Mount Rainier. At 14 miles, reach a junction and turn right to descend through the woods for another mile. Following that, you’ll pass through a meadow, and then reach a small and somewhat hard to-access lake around 15.8 miles.

When you meet up with the Goat Creek Trail again, stay left and hike the final 2.3 miles back to your vehicle.


Goat Creek Loop

Map & Directions

Co-ordinates: 46.4306, -122.1528 Open map in new window


South Cascades -- Mount St. Helens

Goat Creek (#205)

Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument

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Guidebooks & Maps

Green Trails 332 Spirit Lake

Getting There

From I-5, take exit 68 and continue on SR 12 for 37 miles. Near milepost 103, turn right on Kosmos Road. After 0.1 mile, turn left on Champion Haul Road and proceed for 4.3 miles. Cross the bridge over Riffe Lake, then turn right on FR 27 and drive another 0.9 mile. At Forest Road 2750, veer left and remain on FR 2750 for another 3.7 miles to the end. Parking space available for about 12 vehicles.

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

Northwest Forest Pass

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Goat Creek Loop

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