Goat Lake, Westside Road Trailhead, Mount Rainier National Park, Washington
Goat Lake - 13.0 miles
Westside Road Trailhead
|Round-Trip Length:||13.0 miles|
|Start-End Elevation:||2,885' - 4,300' (Max elevation 5,135')|
|Elevation Change:||+1,415' net elevation change (+3,025' total roundtrip elevation gain)|
Goat Lake - 13.0 Miles Round-Trip
Goat Lake (4,300') rests just outside Mount Rainier National Park in the Glacier View Wilderness - Gifford Pinchot National Forest. The lake is a popular backcountry camping and fishing destination and for those entering from the Glacier View Wilderness side, dogs are allowed.
The following route originates within Mount Rainier National Park - therefore excluding dogs from the trail.
From the Westside Road Trailhead, the road continues past the metal gate, paralleling the debris strewn floodplain of the Tahoma Creek Valley (.5 miles : 2,995'). Glimpses of Mount Rainier can be seen up the valley on this stretch of trail.
The trail veers away from the creek (1.0 miles : 3,160') and passes a day-use picnic area before rising gently on long switchbacks. Still technically Westside Road, the path is wide and easy, making for a pleasant ascent through a mixed Douglas fir and Western Cedar forest (1.5 miles : 3,336').
Before long, the trail reaches the Tahoma Vista Picnic area (2.0 miles : 3,465') and makes a hairpin turn left. Cougar and black bear and known to inhabit this stretch of trail and are commonly seen by visitors.
Still on Westside Road, the path begins a more aggressive ascent with salmonberry and huckleberry bushes lining the trail (2.5 miles : 3,545').
The trail continues ascending - remaining virtually unchanged until reaching Round Pass (3.7 miles : 3,835'). Turn left at Round Pass to find the Lake George Trailhead and turn right onto the Lake George Trail.
Now on the Lake George Trail (4.0 miles : 3,945') - the path narrows to body-width and ascends aggressively through a canopied forest towards Lake George (4.5 miles : 4,235').
Lake George is one of the few good fishing spots in all of Mount Rainier National Park and provides a great backcountry camping spot for those seeking to springboard to other destinations - including the Glacier View Wilderness which borders the national park.
From Lake George, the trail cuts through intermittent flower-laden meadows (5.0 miles: 4,545') before rising sharply to the split for Goat Lake (5.4 miles: 5,035'). Turn left to hop on the Goat Lake Trail.
From the Goat Lake Trail split, the trail rises briefly to its crest (5.5 miles : 5,135') before starting a steep descent aided by switchbacks. The trail travels through healthy stands of Douglas fir and western cedar as it zig-zags down the mountainside.
During the descent, the trail leaves Mount Rainier National Park and officially enter the Glacier View Wilderness (6.0 miles : 4,750').
From this point, the trail continues its aggressive descent to the tree-lined lake shore of Goat Lake (6.5 miles : 4,300').
Multiple established backcountry campsites exist around the heavily wooded lake, and trout fishing is excellent.
- N46 46.802 W121 53.115 — 0.0 miles: Westside Road Trailhead
- N46 47.213 W121 53.156 — 0.5 miles: Hiking closed portion of Westside Road
- N46 47.542 W121 52.915 — 1.0 miles: Trail bends away from Tahoma Creek
- N46 47.681 W121 53.208 — 1.5 miles: Trail maintains gentle grade on Westside Road
- N46 47.731 W121 53.062 — 2.0 miles: Tahoma Vista Picnic Area - Trail bends left uphill - 3,465'
- N46 47.689 W121 53.429 — 2.5 miles: Wildflowers and Huckleberry begin to line the trail
- N46 47.734 W121 53.653 — 3.0 miles: Trail begins more aggressive grade
- N46 48.058 W121 53.880 — 3.7 miles: Round Pass - 3,825' - Turn left towards Lake George Trail
- N46 47.973 W121 54.155 — 4.0 miles: Now on Lake George Trail - steep ascent through forest
- N46 47.569 W121 54.178 — 4.5 miles: Arrive at Lake George - 4,235'
- N46 47.625 W121 54.426 — 5.0 miles: Intermittent meadows as trail ascends steeply
- N46 47.521 W121 54.784 — 5.4 miles: Split for Goat Lake Trail - turn left - 5,035'
- N46 47.469 W121 54.778 — 5.5 miles: Crest of Goat Lake Trail - begin descent - 5,135'
- N46 47.584 W121 55.106 — 6.0 miles: Enter Glacier View Wilderness - steep descent - 4,750'
- N46 47.672 W121 55.513 — 6.5 miles: Goat Lake 4,300'
- Goat Lake is in the Glacier View Wilderness within the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. Wilderness regulations apply while in Glacier View and the NPS regulations apply while in the National Park.
- Bikes are allowed for the first 3.7 miles to Round Pass - a bike rack is located next to the Lake George Trail access point after which bikes are no longer allowed. Many people ride the first 3.7 miles, lock their bikes and hike the remainder to Goat Lake.
- A side trip to Gobblers Knob is recommended. The lookout at Gobblers Knob was built in 1933 and is still in use today. It was originally constructed as a fire lookout tower and was placed on the National Regisrty of Historic Places on March 13th, 1991.
Camping and Backpacking Information
Dispersed backcountry camping is allowed past the NPS Border and around Goat Lake. Building a fire within 1/4 mile of the Goat Lake Shoreline is illegal. Goat Lake itself is in the Glacier View Wilderness and dogs are allowed - however, dogs are not permitted on National Park Trails, so if intending to camp with your dog, you must access the lake from the National Forest.
Backcountry camping is also available at Lake George - permit is required.
Fishing at Goat Lake
The Gifford Pinchot National Forest has more than 20 species of fish in 1,360 miles of streams and over 100 lakes. Three species of anadromous fish (chinook and coho salmon, and steelhead trout) and several species of resident salmonids (rainbow trout, kokanee salmon, brown trout, and cutthroat trout), including two species of char (bull trout and eastern brook trout), are found within Forest waters.
More than 90 percent of the streams on the forest have a self-sustaining resident fishery. Fish populations are supplemented with hatchery fish in some forest lakes and streams. High mountain lakes may not be accessible until late-spring snow melts. Gifford Pinchot National Forest waters provide diverse recreational fisheries.
Excellent opportunities for bait, hardware and fly-fishing abound. As you use our site, we hope you find much useful information to guide you in your fishing adventures. Good Luck!
Recreational licenses are required for both residents and nonresidents 15 years of age and older. Reduced fee licenses are available for qualified disabled persons, disabled veterans, youth age 15 years and younger and resident seniors (age 70+).
Rules and Regulations
- fire (stoves ok)
- pets (except on the Pacific Crest Trail - must be leashed)
- use of firearms
- bow/arrows, slingshot, etc.
- destroying or disturbing any natural, cultural, or archeological feature
- feeding, disturbing, or hunting wildlife
- short cutting on any trail
- polluting or contaminating any water source (with soap, waste, etc.)
- disposing of human waste within 100 feet of water or within sight of a trail
- camping within 100 feet of water except in a designated campsite.
Glacier View Wilderness Regulations:
- Entering the Wildernesses without a permit is prohibited (36 CFR 261.57(a)). Permits are required to enter any Wilderness on the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. These permits are free, and may be self-issued at trailheads.
- Entering or being in wilderness with a group consisting of a combination of persons, and pack or saddle stock exceeding 12 in total number is prohibited (36 CFR 261.58(f)).
- Using or possessing any type of wagon, cart, or other wheeled vehicle is prohibited (36 CFR 261.57(h))
- Shortcutting a trail switchback is prohibited (36 CFR 261.55(d)).
- Camping within 100 feet slope distance from the shoreline of any lake and/or the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail, except at Dana Yelverton Shelter within the Goat Rocks Wilderness is prohibited (36 CFR 261.58(e)).
- Grazing, hitching, tethering, or hobbling any pack or saddle livestock within 200 feet slope distance of the shoreline of any lake is prohibited (36 CFR 261.57(a), 36 CFR 261.57(e), 36 CFR 261.58(aa)).
- Possessing or transporting unprocessed hay or grain livestock feed is prohibited (36 CFR 261.58(t)). Unprocessed hay or grain is defined to mean baled hay or straw or other forms of livestock feed that may serve as a seed source for noxious weeds, non-native, or other undesirable plants.
- Caching or storing equipment, personal property, or supplies is prohibited (36 CFR 261.57(f)). Caching is defined to mean leaving equipment unattended for more than 48 hours.
- Being in an area posted as being closed for restoration, wilderness restoration, or rehabilitation is prohibited (36 CFR 261.53(b)).
Directions to Trailhead
Drive 1 mile east of the Nysqually Entrance station and turn left onto Westside Road. Drive 3 miles up Westside Road to the Westside Road Trailhead - marked by a gate, parking area and informational trailhead sign.