Heart Lake: A Goat Rocks Wilderness Treasure

One of the classic photos of Mt. Rainier is an early morning shot of the mountain over Packwood Lake. The photograph has been on many magazine covers.

To get the photograph takes a four-mile hike into the Goat Rocks Wilderness on the Lily Basin Trail.

The Goat Rocks Wilderness is a favorite of mine. On this summer day early in the millennium, I parked at the rough trailhead and set my sights on Lily Basin and then onto Heart Lake, 7 1/2 miles from the trailhead.

The weather was beautiful in the early morning as I hiked to the overview of Packwood Lake. Mt. Rainier dominated the scenery.

Mt. Rainier over Packwood Lake (the light would have been much better an hour or two earlier)

A little alpenglow on Mt. Rainier from earlier in the morning

On the down side the trail had been washed out at 5 1/2 miles, creating a deep and rocky ravine on the headwall of Lily Basin. I decided to brave it and continued on the trail to a junction at the base of Johnson Peak. The views were magnificent, including the Goat Rocks and Mt. St. Helens.

Lily Basin Trail

Old Men of the Mountain

Pleasant section of the Trail

Trail crossing the headwall of Lily Basin

Mt. St. Helens

Mt. Rainier from Heart Lake junction

From there it was a pleasant and beautiful three-mile hike to Heart Lake. If I had been backpacking, this would have been a wonderful location for a camp. Exploring the area, I admired the colorful wildflowers and fresh tracks of elk, deer and bear. I thought to myself, life doesn’t get much better.

Heart Lake

Heart Lake area

Heart Lake

Hiking back, I was treated to the sight of several hoary marmots sunning themselves on rocks (they weren’t posers).

Heading back to trailhead

Lily Basin



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