USA: WASHINGTON: Goat Rocks Wilderness

A very scenic hike visits Snowgrass Flat and Goat Ridge over a 13 mile loop with 3180 feet total gain in Goat Rocks Wilderness, Gifford Pinchot National Forest, Washington, USA. Ice still covers most of Goat Lake in late July, but the trail should be mostly free of snow barriers by then. Hike Goat Rocks on a clear day to admire several nearby Cascades volcanoes: Mount Adams, Mount Saint Helens, and Mount Rainier. Watch for lenticular (lens shaped) clouds hovering in standing waves of wind sweeping over the volcanic cones.

The following wildflowers bloomed abundantly on July 28, 2006 (see photos): subalpine mariposa lily (Calochortus subalpina, or mountain mariposa lily), pink heather, lupine flowers, Bear Grass (Latin name tenax, also commonly called Indian Basket Grass, Soap Grass, or Squaw Grass), Indian paintbrush (Castilleja), and Western Anemone flowers with hair-like seed heads.

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The Goat Rocks Wilderness is a unique area characterized by high alpine terrain centered around an ancient volcano which dominated the area some two million years ago. The mountainous terrain is between 3,000 and 8,184 feet elevation, much above timberline. Elk, mountain goats, marmots, deer, and a variety of birds reside here.

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