Little Tahoma as seen from point where Goat Island ridge is reached
Goat Island Mountain is a very elongated high ridge on the northeastern flank of Mount Rainier. It is called Goat "Island" because during the Little Ice Age, the mountain was surrounded by a much expanded Emmons Glacier on its north, and a much longer Frying Pan Glacier to its south. Today, it is no longer an island, but it still feels like one, being surrounded by the Sunrise area of Mount Rainier National Park on its north, Mount Rainier and Little 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.
Fryingpan Creek Fryingpan Creek Long Ridge of Goat Island
Enter Mount Rainier National Park taking SR-410 east from Enumclaw, entering the northeast section of the park. About 5 miles south of the park entrance, turn right (west) into the White River entrance. This road is closed in the winter, and as snowmelt takes place in the spring, it gradually will open all the way to the lodge at Sunrise.
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.
Mount Rainier from Ridge Traverse False Summit
The admission fee to enter the White River Entrance is $15 per vehicle, which is good for a week. You can also buy an annual pass good at any US National Park for $80. No other permits are required. Camping overnight requires a permit from the Park obtainable at either the White River Guard Station or Sunrise.
Glissade into North Basin Downclimbing to the North
Great camping exists at Summerland, but this is a bit out of the way from Goat Island Mountain. Otherwise, camping opportunities are very limited on this trip. A permit is required for any overnight camping, obtainable at the White River Guard Station or Sunrise.
TOPO! Software Image Mount Rainier
For information including road closures and camping restrictions, you can contact Mount Rainier National Park at: Mt. 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