Located just two miles south of the much more magnificent Mt. Jefferson, Goat Peak takes a distant second for prominence but nevertheless stands out in the area. Mt. Jefferson dominates the view to the north and Three Fingered Jack, and the peaks of the Three Sisters Wilderness are easily visible to the south.
The view of Goat Peak from the Pacific Crest Trail at the start of the bushwhack section of the route.
The summit prominence is composed of bus-sized basalt (probably andesite) blocks that offer class four climbing opportunities at the least and it looks like a few more challenging routes as well. Located at the very upper limit of the tree line, the dwarf trees bend and contort in fantastic shapes to the photographers delight.
There is no trail the final few miles to the peak but at this altitude, there is hardly any vegetation but dwarf Hemlock and Whitebark Pine that won't impede your progress much through this extraordinary alpine scenery. This area is very isolated and even on summer weekends you will probably have several square miles all to yourself. In several trips, I have yet to meet anyone on the trails to the east and above the Pacific Crest Trail.
From I-5 take Hwy 22 east toward Detroit. About 4 miles past Detroit is the little town of Idanha, set your odometer and take a left on the Woodpecker Ridge Road 7.4 miles east of Idanha. Follow this gravel road for 5 1/3 miles to the trailhead. (If you see the turnoff for the Pamelia Lake Trailhead, go back 4/10 miles) This is a pretty good road, though narrow, and easily navigated by two-wheel drive vehicles.
The closest trailhead, Pamelia Lake, is patrolled and requires an advance permit to park and hike plus that lame "trail park" thing, as well. If you plan ahead, fine, but the above Woodpecker Ridge Trailhead, which doesn't require an advance permit, (though still requires the trail park pass) adds less than a mile to the trek and only about 400 extra vertical feet .
Take the trail uphill and in about 1 3/4 mile, turn right on the PCT. Use the map below from that point.
Update: See alternate route in Red Tape, below.
The map shows my GPS track of a recent trip and totals 5,695 vertical feet and 22.2 miles, though you could shorten this to only 4,590 vertical and 17.5 miles by doing an out-and-back to the peak and foregoing the loop. The scenery makes the loop a fascinating trip through an alpine forest and volcanic geologic wonderland untouched by logging, man and apparently even fire for millennia.
Also, here is a shot I posted on the Mt. Jefferson page that gives a good example of what the trails do look like, when you can find them: Link
(Goat Peak is above my right shoulder in the photo.)
There was at least one rappel sling on the summit rocks late summer, '05, so at east some climbers do this peak and rappel off the top.
Trail park pass or equivalent required at trailhead. Most of the area is wilderness so the usual rules apply.
adds: "You need to contact the Detroit Ranger Station and get a special permit to go in at Pamelia Lake." "...The area is restricted by quota and rangers do patrol Pamelia Lake and the area around Shale Lake to make sure you have the required permit. You can only request it one month or less in advance and the camp spots go quickly during summer. This is in addition to the NW Forest Pass. Yes, these are a hassle but this is a high impact area and the lakes are worth keeping as pristine as possible."
So it seems that although the Woodpecker Ridge Trailhead doesn't require a special permit, the route I've described passes through a couple of sections of the "restricted area".
Here's the fix for that: Continue on Hwy 22 another 3 1/4 miles past the road to the Woodpecker Ridge trailhead, turning left on the Bingham Ridge road. Follow this road 5.4 miles to the Bingham Ridge trailhead.
Follow the trail for about 2.7 miles and turn right at the junction with the Lake of the Woods trail. Follow the Lake of the Woods trail another 2.4 miles to the junction with the Hunts Creek trail. Follow the Hunts Creek trail another 1.5 miles to the PCT. Take a right on the PCT for about 1/3 mile then take a left and follow the faint trail east until you are on the NW flank of the cinder cone. Either make your way between The Table and Cathedral Rocks or make your way up the slopes of The Table (from there you can see your goal) and enjoy the rest of your hike!
This alternate does not appreciably change the total vertical or the distance covered from the description of the loop route shown on the map.
When To Climb
Snow typically lingers into August and can fall in any month of the year. The best times would be from the beginning of August to the middle of September, however, in this exceptionally low snowfall year, unless conditions change dramatically, this could be open by early June! This is a very long snowshoe or cross country trip in the winter.
Camping spots are everywhere and the views are fantastic. Just pick out a spot and enjoy. Very unlikely anybody else will find you up there.
The snowfall here is extreme and can last well into July and even August making route finding difficult without a GPS or specific knowledge of the area.