A Splendid Outing in the Goat Rocks Wilderness

Section 3 Lake

On a mid-summer’s day I drove from Yakima to Section 3 Lake. The picturesque lake sits at 6,000 feet south of White Pass. As a side note, the last few miles of the steep access road are very rough.

It was 39 degrees with a cold wind. The small lake is the location of a trailhead into the Goat Rocks Wilderness. The 108,023-acre Wilderness is a part of the volcanic Cascade Mountain Range in southwestern Washington located between Mt. Rainier and Mt. Adams. The Goat Rocks are remnants of a large volcano, extinct for some two million years. Average snowfall is more than 25 feet, providing lush habitat in the summer and early fall for mountain goats, elk and many other species.

Section 3 Lake

Subalpine meadows

Bear Creek Mountain

I donned my fleece vest, hat and gloves and began the hike to the south through a series of subalpine meadows with small ponds and wildflowers. After three miles the Trail began to sharply climb Bear Creek Mountain, gaining the summit in one mile with 1,000 feet of elevation gain. Luckily, the cold wind had died down by the time the summit was reached. 

At the 7,300-foot Summit the views were spectacular in all directions. This hike probably provides the biggest bang for the buck of any in the Northwest. All of the Goat Rocks scenery was splendidly laid out in front of the Bear Mountain Summit, from Devils Horns, to Tieton Peak, Mt. Gilbert (the highest point in Goat Rocks), Mt. Adams, and Mt. Rainier.

Near the summit


My daypack on the summit 

Mt. Adams

Goat Rocks

Mt. Rainier from the summit

Heading down the mountain


Mormon Fritillary Butterfly on a Cows Parsnip

Lots of Lupine

Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep licking the pavement on White Pass

Categories: Washington Cascades HikesTags: , , , , ,

1 comment

  1. Goat Rocks is fabulous!! Looks like a splendid hike!

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