Hike description: A walk through history, exercise and views all can be found on the Iron Goat Trail.
With the completion of the Scenic Trailhead and Interpretive Center, this wheelchair-accessible loop offers a great family outing. Plan for time to check out the interpretive exhibit at the trailhead. Don’t miss the historic caboose there.
The trail traces the route that the Great Northern Railway took in opening up the Northwest. The original railroad grade was used from 1893 to 1929.
When a new tunnel was completed down the hill, the old roadbed became surplus and has been turned into a day-in-the-woods experience that the whole family can enjoy.
Mile markers along the trail note the mileage from St. Paul, Minn., the Great Northern Railway’s home base.
After leaving the parking lot, you will head straight (east) on the trail. Around 500 feet you will pass a junction with the Windy Point Crossover Trail on the right which is your return route.
Heading straight you will come to a series of walls remaining from the snowsheds that protected the trains from avalanches.
Farther down the trail, you will pass another set of tunnels that are no longer in use and are no longer safe.
The trail builders bypassed these artifacts to provide a safe trail for you to enjoy.
The temptation, felt by young and old alike, to explore these artifacts should be resisted – look but don’t venture into them.
This portion of the trail also offers views of the Deception Creek Valley.
At 2.1 miles from the trailhead you will come to the Corea Crossover Trail. Take this trail to the right, ascending a short slope to the railroad grade above. Another right turn will have you heading west.
Take your time to enjoy the artifacts and views on this section of the trail. Just past milepost 1714 you’ll be at the top of the Windy Point Crossover Trail. Turn right and head down to the trailhead and the parking lot.
Directions: Drive Highway 2 to milepost 58.3, about nine miles east of Skykomish. Turn onto the Old Cascade Highway and then take an immediate right turn into the Iron Goat Interpretive Site, Iron Goat Trail Scenic Trailhead.
Difficulty rating: 1 (1 is easiest, 5 is most difficult).
Miles round-trip: 5.7.
Elevation: 700 feet.
Best time of year: May to November.
Map: Green Trails No. 176 Stevens Pass; download schematic map from Iron Goat website.
Pass: None needed at Scenic Trailhead.
Also: There are several websites with lots of great information on the Iron Goat Trail; check them out as you plan your trip: Download a full color schematic from www.irongoat.org/images/IGT2007.pdf; Iron Goat Trail: www.irongoat.org; Volunteers for Outdoor Washington: www.bcc.ctc.edu/cpsha/irongoat/; Washington State Department of Transportation Interpretive Center information: www.wsdot.wa.gov/regions/northcentral/projects/irongoatinterpretive. Check with the ranger district for current trailhead pass information as this can change. Accessible restroom facilities at the trailhead. Always carry the 10 Essentials on any outing, even paved, accessible trails Practice Leave No Trace hiking – pack out your own trash and any you find along the way. Bring your camera but leave any artifacts and flowers you find for others to enjoy. Safety dictates that you stay on the trail and out of abandoned tunnels. As tempting as it might be, climbing on old timbers is not advised to avoid the danger of sudden collapse. Please be respectful of private property. The trail itself is on U.S. Forest Service land, but some of the surrounding area is privately owned.
Info: Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest Skykomish Ranger District 360-677-2414; www.fs.fed.us/r6/mbs/recreation; “Day Hiking, Central Cascades” and “Best Hikes with Kids Western Washington & the Cascades,” both Mountaineers Books
Hike of the Week is presented by The Mountaineers Tacoma Branch Hiking/Backpacking Committee.