A steep but steady hike up into some lovely meadows and a superb viewpoint over the valley. It’s certainly worth doing to this point, especially with the number of glacier lilies currently in bloom, but I can’t help thinking that it’s just the beginning of the good stuff. Next time we’ll return to head all the way to the west summit of Goat which is only another 300-400 m higher.
Getting to the trailhead was easy and the Hannegan Pass road is in good condition to the Goat Mountain trailhead. The potholes in the first km or so have been filled in, but expect to encounter more after that. The trailhead has an (odiferous) outhouse and parking for half-a-dozen cars, with an overflow parking area a couple of hundred metres back down the road. Remember to buy your parking pass at the Glacier visitor centre or at the store in Maple Falls.
The trail was in excellent condition, with barely any downed trees to deal with. The many switchbacks looked daunting but were very well graded so we never felt that the trail was particularly steep. Small patches of snow began as we entered the meadows, obscuring the trail for sections higher up. However, the snow didn’t pose any serious navigation issues and we always found the trail again. The trail downslope of melting snow was often wet and muddy with running meltwater. The viewpoint was clear of snow and had many fine rocks on which to sit and admire the excellent views of Mounts Sefrit and Shuksan. Mount Baker was easy to miss as it only just peeks up above Mount Herman. There are a few clear spots in the heather where it would be possible to put up a tent; would make a nice sunrise spot!
Woodland flowers were plentiful, and the alpine flowers are just emerging. We saw trillium still blooming (albeit at higher elevations), wild ginger, pinesap, fairyslipper orchids, bunchberry, bleeding heart, yellow stream violets, Alaska violets, rosy twistedstalk, salmonberry, stream-bank spring beauty, lupine, baneberry, star-flowered false Solomon’s seal, spotted coralroot, pink coralroot, Sitka valerian, plus queen’s cup and Columbia lily in bud. Above the trees we saw many glacier lilies (yay!) accompanied by much western spring beauty, a couple of white alpine marsh marigolds, and signs of wood betony beginning to bloom, along with many of the berry bushes.
No wildlife sightings, although we did hear a pika near the first switchback and heard many birds in the trees including grouse, hermit thrushes, varied thrushes, wrens, chickadees, dark-eyed juncos and warblers. Bugs were few and far between although I did pick up a couple of black fly bites.
Distance: 11.5 km
Elevation gain: 890 m
Time: 5.5 hours