Located only about 3 miles south of the Canadian border, Goat Mountain is a double summitted massif just north of the junction of Ruth Creek and the Nooksack River. From this point, Goat Mountain has a commanding view of Mts. Baker, Shuksan, Sefrit, Larrabee, Ruth, The Border Peaks, Tomyhoi, Slesse, the Northern Pickets, and an endless sea of other jagged, icy mountains.
The East Peak is more remote and slightly higher (6891 feet) than the West Peak (6721 feet). The West Peak has an advantage in that good trail reaches to within the last 50 vertical feet from the summit. The last part, though, traverses a permanent snowfield from which a fall can be very nasty, so an ice ax should be brought on either peak at all times of the year.
The East Peak requires leaving the Goat Mountain trail after 3200 feet of gain, losing about 300 feet of elevation, and then regaining 1400 feet to the summit. The East Peak is not technically difficult. The challenging aspect of this climb is that the slopes are guarded with steep, slippery heather, so that an ice ax or poles are required for a safe descent.
From the top of either peak, it is an airy perch to some of the best views in the Cascades, being surrounded on all sides by other great mountains, and looking far north into Canada.
From Exit 255 on I-5, drive east on the Mount Baker Highway (542) and turn left on the Hannegan Pass Road (#32) just before the 4th and final crossing of the Nooksack River. Follow the road 2.5 miles to the Goat Mountain Trailhead (elevation 2500 feet). There is a parking area on the left just before the trail and one on the right just after.
From this point, hike the steep Goat Mountain Trail #673 approximately three miles to the end of its maintained portion. Continue on "unmaintained trail" another 1.5 miles. Even though unmaintained, the trail is quite good as it switchbacks across grassy, open slopes with great views of Mount Shuksan and Mount Baker to the south.
The trail arrives at the summit ridge west of the summit block. It is necessary at this point to leave trail and cross steep (hard, in late season) snow where a slip could be dangerous. Be sure to bring an ice ax for this. Leave the snowfield and go over a false summit, and arrive at the false summit shortly thereafter.
Difficulty: Class 2 (with some steep snow), Distance: 9 miles roundtrip, Elevation gain: 4300 feet.
Drive and approach on the Goat Mountain Trail as described above for the West Peak. Near the end of the "maintained" trail (elevation 5700 feet, 3200 feet gained from cars), the trail reaches an overlook of a basin towards the east that lies directly under the East Peak. A creek runs through this basin.
Drop down 300 very difficult feet over extremely slippery (when wet) vegetation to reach the bottom of the basin. Cross over the creek and approach the East Peak, scrambling up an easy Class 2 gully. Towards the summit, the route narrows and becomes exposed over either side of the gully, but there should be no danger if you stay in the gully. The summit itself is a rocky narrow spine which drops off in all directions.
This is a much more committing climb than the West Peak, even though it is only 120 feet higher. It involves losing and gaining elevation, and traveling over very difficult terrain at the point one leaves and tries to regain the trail. Climbing just the East Peak will involve one very long, hard day.
Difficulty: Class 2. Distance: 10 miles round-trip. Elevation gain: 5000 feet
Late spring through the summer is an ideal time to climb. Spring conditions involve much snow travel and good route-finding and map reading skills. Definitely cary an ice ax at any time of the year, especially in the spring.
Goat Mountain lies within the Mount Baker Wilderness Area. All regulations apply. A Northwest Forest Pass is required to park at the trailhead. One can be purchased at the USFS Ranger Station in Glacier. Click HERE for a list of other places to purchase these passes. A Wilderness permit is required to enter and camp within the park. These permits are available on a self-service basis at the trailhead.
For all other information, contact the US Forest Service at:
21905 64th Avenue W
These peaks are usually done in one long. Camping opportunities are very limited. Probably the best camping lies in the basin below the East Peak, as there is ample flat terrain and water.