This hike has great bang for the buck. In summary, it is a moderate 10 mile hike (roundtrip). There are two paths, the lower along a roaring creek, the upper along an old logging road with waterfalls here and there. There is a big series of cataracts known as the Mackintosh falls about 10 minutes before the lake. The lake itself is big, clear, calm and surrounded by mountains, a typical alpine lake. This hike is well worth doing.
The trailhead is about two, two and a half hours away from the Eastside. It involves a dreary drive through I-5 till Everett but the scenery picks up a half-hour or so after crossing Everett and starting off on the Mountain Loop Highway. The Mountain Loop Highway is a very nice drive from Granite Falls along the Stillguamish river. Right now, there are flowers in bloom so the road is flanked by blue flowers and is delightful.
Mountain Loop Highway
At the trailhead
From the trailhead, there are two paths to the lake. I would recommend taking the lower, harder, more scenic route on the way up to the lake and the upper, longer, straighter route on the way back. The sounds of the Elliot creek never leave you as you walk up the lower trail. The forest is a beautiful green!
The trail is in great shape and every now and then there are markers of where people have helped make this lake accessible.
At about 3.5 miles the upper and the lower trails meet and form one path that heads to the lake. The trail enters an Alder forest (TIL) and this segment of the hike is strikingly different and incredibly pleasant.
Ambling through Alder
On a lonely road …
There are plenty of nice flowers on this trek:
- Yellow flowers with five petals
- White flowers with five petals and a line dividing each petal into two. My hypothesis is that these are baby flowers and they grow up to become violet flowers with a line dividing each petal into two
- White flowers with three big petals
- Juicy Shrimps: a tall stalk and then a shrimp like flower
The only competent picture of Wildflowers
There are also several places where creeks have invaded the trail and involve some walking through mud, delicate footwork and an occasional soak of the socks.
Four miles into the hike is the first serious elevation gain alongside a stream. This is an ideal place to stop, take a breath and then look at the Cascades. There are quite a few peaks peeking out periodically through the foliage.
There is no better picture of this peak K
Peeking Peak 2
Peeking Peak 3
A little way after this is Macintosh falls which is worth the side detour.
The lake is just a short way away from the falls. There are tall peaks on all sides and the lake sits nestled amongst them, carved out of old Glaciers. It’s a big lake, very quiet, filled with clear, delicious cold water.
Goat Lake 1
Goat Lake 2
On the way back, I recommend the Upper Elliot trail which is along an old logging road. It is a simpler walk, punctuated by many creeks and waterfalls. It does get a little monotonous towards the end though.
Just another pretty cataract.
Overall, Goat Lake is a moderate hike with a nice creek, some pretty waterfalls, greenery and a most excellent lake at the end.