A couple weeks ago, when the Cascades were filled with smoke, I hopped a ferry and headed to Goat Lake in the Olympics. As I was hiking up the steep single track I decided it would be a great training hike for a couple of women I coach who are planning to run the Grand Canyon rim-to-rim-to-rim in October. I was about to email them a Google doc with photos and directions, but decided to just post it here instead. Easier to share with them, and with anyone else who is interested in checking out this beautiful alpine lake!
I’ve read a few trip reports that suggest this is a “secret” hike, but there’s a bootpath/trail the entire way, and the route is clearly shown on Caltopo’s MapBuilder layer: https://caltopo.com/m/P717.
Start at the Upper Dungeness trailhead (directions to the trailhead are at the bottom of this page) and enjoy an easy cruise along the riverside trail for several miles. At 3.4 miles, you will reach an unsigned fork in the trail, pictured below. Go right. Shortly thereafter, you’ll reach another unsigned fork. Go right again. The trail will lead you down to a crossing of the Dungeness. This time of year, you can either ford the river or cross on a few trees that have fallen across the river. I chose the trees because I wanted dry feet and was too lazy to take off my shoes, but the ford looked very manageable.
Once you get across the Dungeness, you’ll be faced with heavy brush. Look for an obvious hole that tunnels through the brush – this is a short (100 feet?) trail that will deposit you in a pretty little meadow currently covered in dry, golden grass. Several paths criss-cross the meadow. With your back to the river, choose the path on the left that leads you into the forest. Continue following this path up, and up, and up, until you reach the lovely Goat Lake. Leave time for a dip – the water is crystal clear and there is a long pebble beach that provides easy lake access!