OverviewLittle Tahoma to the west, and Meany Crest, Banshee Peak, and the Cowlitz Chimneys to the south.
All in all, this is a moderate scramble to a mountain that is very well-positioned to provide great views in all directions. While it is a technically easy climb and is of moderate physical difficulty, this mountain is probably not climbed very often. You should expect to have this summit to yourself.
Pass through the White River entrance, continuing another 2.5 miles to a sharp bend in the road just past a bridge over Frying Pan Creek. Park here (Elevation 3800 feet). Take the trail 0.1 miles from the Frying Pan parking area to a junction with the Wonderland Trail. Continue up the Wonderland Trail another three miles past the footbridge to Summerland (Elevation 5200 feet). Cross the footbridge and continue another 1/4 mile. Leave the trail before the switchbacks to Summerland commence, and brush beat to Frying Pan Creek. Hike up Frying Pan Creek, heading in the general direction of green parkland directly to the west. Cross the Frying Pan Creek at the easiest crossing, and hike up a stream bed coming from the green parkland (may be dry in late season). Hike the green open meadows to the ridge top. This is the summit ridge of Goat Island Mountain. Climb another 1000 vertical feet over a series of false summits to the true summit at the extreme northeastern end of the Goat Island Mountain massif.
The return route can be made by the same direction. Or for a loop trip, follow the ridge from the summit northeast, dropping down into a basin. Climb over the northeastern rim of the basin walls, not dropping below 6200 feet to avoid cliff bands on the other side. Once on the other side, follow the Northeastern Ridge of Goat Island Mountain through open forest down the ridge. Amazingly, there is an old trail which does not appear on any maps which will run down the ridge, guiding you to the Wonderland trail at 4100 feet. Turn right (east) back to the junction with the Frying Pan Parking area trail and back to the cars. Be advised that this is a complicated descent route and that a GPS is advised.
Trip Stats: 11 miles roundtrip. Elevation gain: 3500 feet. Difficulty: Class 2 (unless you descend via the Northeast Ridge, which will involve short streches of Class 3 and the need for an ice ax.
External LinksMt. Rainier National Park
Another great site is this excellent Mt. Rainier climbing blog, which gives up-to-date snowpack and road conditions on Mt. Rainier and the all of the roads: Mt. Rainier Climbing Page