OverviewGoat Mountain is the highest point between the middle and south fork of the Kings River downstream of Dougherty Peak nearly 4 miles away, and as a result the views from the summit are outstanding. On a clear day the vista includes Mount Goddard, the Palisades, Split Mountain, Mount Williamson, Mount Whitney, Mount Brewer, and Kaweah Peaks Ridge (among many others). In addition to the fine views, Goat Mountain is also sometimes climbed due to its inclusion on the Sierra Club’s Sierra Peaks Section SPS List.
Towering over 7,000 feet above Roads End in Kings Canyon National Park, Goat Mountain is not technically difficult but the elevation gain required presents a suitable challenge for many individuals seeking its summit. The usual route includes an 8.5 mile hike that finishes with a class 2 scramble from Grouse Lake to its isolated summit.
Goat Mountain is usually accessed from the Copper Creek Trailhead in Kings Canyon National Park. Groups have also ascended while completing through hikes from far off trailheads, or from nearby Deer Cove or Lewis Creek trailheads if joining with other destinations on Kings Canyon’s north rim. If Goat Mountain is your primary destination, however, Copper Creek is the obvious choice.
Copper Creek Trailhead (36.79616° N, 118.58342° W)
Turn east off Highway 99 in Fresno onto Highway 180 towards Kings Canyon National Park. Simply follow the highway 92 miles all the way to Roads End in the back of the canyon (37 miles past the park entrance). Take care not to miss the left turn 21 miles from Highway 99 to stay on 180. If coming from the south, Highway 180 is best reached by using Highway 137 or 198 to connect to Highway 63 northbound in Visalia.
Trip statistics from Copper Creek Trailhead:
8.5 miles one-way, 7200 feet total elevation gain with negligible gain on the return
The hike is very straightforward, ascending steeply from Roads End to the beginning of a scenic cross-country route to Grouse Lake and Goat Mountain. The trail is well maintained, but can be hot and dusty in the summer months.
From Roads End ascend 5200 feet in 6.3 miles to the last switchback before the pass to Granite Basin. The trail passes several seasonal streams midway through the hike. A bear box and good campsites are available at the stream crossing 3.4 miles and 2800 feet above the trailhead (at BM 7825 on the attached route map). Once you reach the final switchback before Granite Basin, continue north cross-country following the outlet of Grouse Lake, where additional camping options exist. The lake is most easily passed on the east side, and from there it is easy travel to the base of Goat Mountain’s upper slopes.
For the final ascent, the best options are the class 2 northwest ridge connecting to Munger Peak, or one of the sand and scree gullies to the left of the cliffs on the north side of the west face (with most parties seeming to prefer the gullies). If following the ridge, it is easiest to keep well below the crest on the west side as obstacles are reached.
Copper Creek Trailhead and Goat Mountain lie within Kings Canyon National Park and an entrance fee is required. The Sequoia and Kings Canyon fee page has full details.
No permits are required for day trips but overnight trips require one throughout the year. Copper Creek has quota of 20 people per day in place from late May through late September each year. Outside the quota season permits can be self-issued anytime at the Roads End Permit Station, otherwise they must be obtained from the same location during open hours. Check the Sequoia and Kings Canyon permit page for full details on hours, the reservation process, and reservation availability.
Bear canisters are not required, but proper food storage is a must. Others likely have had different experiences, but I have consistently seen more bears in Kings Canyon than anywhere else in the Sierra. There is a bear box along the trail at BM 7825, immediately past and upslope of where the trail crosses the last major stream from Mount Hutchings.
Fires are prohibited above 10,000 feet and in Granite Basin.
Current ConditionsCurrent NOAA / National Weather Service Forecast
When to ClimbThe road to Roads End is not plowed in the winter, consequently spring through fall are the most realistic times for a visit. In early season snow is present at higher elevations, but those familiar with snow conditions should not have any difficulties. Summer months bring heat to the lower elevations of the hike, making an early morning start worthwhile.
Backcountry camping is possible at Tent Meadow near BM 7825 where a bear box is available. Though over 5,000 feet above the trailhead, Grouse Lake is an extremely scenic option and worth considering.
Roadside camping is not allowed at the trailhead, but dispersed camping is permitted not far away outside the park in Sequoia National Forest.
Inside the park there are four campgrounds (Sheep Creek, Sentinel, Canyon View, and Moraine) with over 300 total sites available. All but Sentinel are open on an as needed basis, making it sometimes difficult to spread out even when usage is low. Each campground has full amenities, costs $18/night, and all sites are first-come, first-served. The Sequoia and Kings Canyon Campgrounds page also lists other sites in the area.