The 108,096 acre Goat Rocks Wilderness is a portion of the volcanic Cascade Mountain Range in southwestern Washington located between Mt. Rainier and Mt. Adams.
The Goat Rocks are remnants of a large volcano, extinct for some two million years. This ancient volcano once towered over the landscape at more than 12,000 feet in elevation, but has since eroded into several peaks averaging around 8,000 feet. The cluster of rocks and peaks have become known as Goat Rocks because of the bands of mountain goats that live here.
Glaciation and erosion have worn away at the terrain here, leaving moderate summits on both sides of the crest of the Cascades. The elevation in the Goat Rocks ranges from 3,000 feet to 8,201 feet at Gilbert Peak. The deep east-west drainages below the ridges often open into park-like alpine meadows dotted with small lakes and even smaller ponds.
Hiking here is a real pleasure. There are nice long ridges providing wide sweeping views of the snow covered summits of Mounts Rainier and Adams.
The upper elevations hold endless meadows and fantastic flower gardens filled with a myriad of colorful flowers.
The Pacific Crest Trail bisects the wilderness. Heading north the trail gains elevation above the tree line until it summits a rocky knoll. Here are wonderful views of both snow bound volcanoes. From here the path plummets down a fantastic zig-zag of rock along the very spine of the ridge. This section is aptly named the Knife’s Edge, the highest point the PCT surmounts in Washington State.
One of the access trails into the high county is the Lily Basin Trail. Slowly gaining elevation along a ridge side the trees part amidst a dense stand of avalanche lilies. Views of Mount Rainier are outstanding!
A little further along the mountain is framed by Packwood Lake with its distinctive island. There are more post-card opportunities than you can shake a stick at!