OverviewThis is a direct and scenic route to the top of the Goat Rocks from the Tieton River. The route passes through a working cattle ranch on up to dry forests, alpine lakes, meadows, snow fields, a dying glacier, and scoured rock.
Getting ThereFollow the directions on the main page for getting to Conrad Meadows. From the end of the road consult the kiosk at the trailhead describing the local property issues and continue on trail 1120 following the South Fork of the Tieton River to Surprise Lake. There are innumerable paths and jeep tracks cut through here, try not to get off the prescribed trail. If you do lose the path continue southwest until the forest service trail is regained and be sure to follow the South Fork of the Tieton River instead of Conrad Creek. Trail 1120 is very well cut and maintained for its entirety so shouldn't be confused with any other treads or tracks.
Route DescriptionFollow the trail to the point where it divides in a loop around the head of the South Fork Tieton River valley. Taking the trail to the south will take one to the high point of the trail faster and pass Surprise Lake so is generally recommended. One can leave the trail in several places to cut uphill towards the divide, but to follow the most reasonable and obvious path continue on a spur trail which heads due north from the loop trail at about 5700 feet. This spur trail continues north towards Conrad Glacier and Creek, but to reach Klickton divide must be left almost immediately on any way trail that presents itself back Southwest near the 6000 foot level.
Shortly one should find themselves on a high bench below the south side of the summit with the fast-disappearing Meade Glacier in view. Steep cliffs generally bar direct access to the Meade Glacier and the Klickton Divide so one must traverse south past Warm Lake, which due to its stagnant nature is actually of very palatable temperature despite its altitude. About a quarter-mile south of Warm Lake talus slopes should allow practical access to the crest of the divide. Following these to the crest then continuing Northwest one will encounter pleasant scrambling on ancient volcanics and occasionally some light brush. About a mile and a half of travel on the divide will bring one up a final slope with some loose class 3 terrain to the summit.
This route can be reasonably done in a day, but there are designated campsites at Surprise Lake and lots of open space near Warm Lake should a stay overnight be desired.
This is active grazing territory so it is likely that in Summer and Fall you will encounter many cattle. They are just cows and steers and shouldn't pose any problem, but watch for cow pies and stay away from anything with horns. The ice shown on the USGS topo maps is much reduced in reality so snow travel can easily be completely avoided after mid-July. Before mid-July the route could likely be shortened by using snow to gain Klickton divide where steep, loose rock exists later. Get out there soon if you want to see the glaciers before they melt.