Iron Goat Trail Day Hike

7.7 miles round trip / 1167′ elevation gain

The rainy season has finally arrived in the Pacific Northwest, but that hasn’t stop me from hitting the trails.  A friend from the Pacific Northwest Outdoor Women Group asked if I’d like to join her on another mid-week hike, and I was thankful for the invitation.  I headed towards the Iron Goat Trail anticipating a rainy trek even though the sun was trying to make its’ way into Seattle as I left.  As I made my way towards Stevens Pass the weather turned to cloudy and rainy.  My friend and I met in a completely empty parking lot with a slight break in the weather including hints of sunshine peaking through the clouds.  The two of us weren’t fooled by the temptation of the sun and hit the trails wearing a final layer of wet weather gear.

After taking a class at REI last week learning to identify chanterelle mushrooms in the wild, I was excited to test my knowledge in the field.  The conditions were perfect for mushroom hunting in Washington, and they were everywhere!  Unfortunately, I didn’t find any chanterelles, but I did had a fun time trying.

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Mushrooms, Iron Goat Trail,  Mount Baker – Snoqualmie National Forest, WA

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Mushrooms, Iron Goat Trail, Mount Baker – Snoqualmie National Forest, WA

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Mushrooms, Iron Goat Trail, Mount Baker -Snoqualmie National Forest, WA

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Mushroom, Iron Goat Trail, Mount Baker – Snoqualmie National Forest, WA

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Mushrooms, Mount Baker – Snoqualmie National Forest, WA

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Mushrooms, Iron goat Trail Mount Baker – Snoqualmie National Forest

We started our hike at the Martin Creek trail head making our way east along the lower grade.  The pathway is wide, winding is way through the mossy forest.  At times the warm colors of fall leaves blanketed the landscape.

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Iron Goat Trail, Mount Baker – Snoqualmie National Forest, WA

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Iron Goat Trail, Mount Baker – Snoqualmie National Forest, WA

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Iron Goat Trail, Mount Baker – Snoqualmie National Forest, WA

After about 3 miles of hiking we arrived at another trail head and parking lot with a bright red restored railway car.  We took a quick break and enjoyed reading about the history of the area on the posted interpretative signs and maps.

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Restored railway car, Iron Goat Trail, Mount Baker – Snoqualmie National Forest, WA

From this parking lot we took the Upper Loop Trail towards Windy Point.  This section of the trail is much more primitive than the lower grade.  It steeply climbs upwards, switching back and forth through the tress with their roots jutting out in every direction.  By this time the rain had become steady, making the trail very muddy.  After about a mile, the trail meets the upper grade where we chose to take the 1/4 mile journey making a right towards Windy Point viewpoint.

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View from Windy Point, Iron Goat Trail, Mount Baker – Snoqualmie National Forest, WA

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Snow bridge, Iron Goat Trail, Mount Baker – Snoqualmie National Forest, WA

We took shelter from the rain inside a tunnel where we enjoyed lunch in a dry space. Several tunnels can be seen along the trail with signs warning hikers not to travel too far inside.  The two of us made sure to pay attention to the signs only hiking in allowed areas.

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Tunnel, Iron Goat Trail, Mount Baker – Snoqualmie National Forest, WA

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Tunnel, Iron Goat Trail, Mount Baker – Snoqualmie National Forest, WA

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Tunnel, Iron Goat Trail, Mount Baker – Snoqualmie National Forest, WA

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Tunnel, Iron Goat Trail, Mount Baker – Snoqualmie National Forest, WA

We decided we didn’t have the time to hike the additional 3 miles and back to visit the Wellington Avalanche Disaster site.  The two of us hiked back towards the trail head, this time taking the upper grade section of the trail.  This portion of the path follows the remains of the railroad more closely, where at times the snow bridges become the trail itself.

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Snow bridge, Iron Goat Trail, Mount Baker – Snoqualmie National Forest, WA

The steady rain continued during last few miles of our hike creating large puddles in the middle of the pathway.  I felt like a kid splashing my way down the trail, happy that I didn’t let the weather keep me from exploring the outdoors.  I enjoyed photographing nature along the way with my new waterproof camera, not letting the weather get in the way of my art as well.  It was fun to compare photographic shots with my hiking partner who also enjoys nature photography as she hikes.

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Flowers, Iron Goat Trail, Mount Baker – Snoqualmie National Forest, WA

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Heart shaped leaf, Iron Goat Trail, Mount Baker – Snoqualmie National Forest, WA

As I reached the parking lot completely soaked from head to toe, I had learned a few lessons:  1.  Get better wet weather gear!  2.  Always have a clean, dry pair of clothes in the car for the drive home.  3.  I will never let the rain keep me from going outside.  I was so cold on my drive home that I stopped in Monroe to buy a sweater and a hot latte.  By the time I reached Seattle that afternoon, the skies had opened up once more leaving the rain in the mountains behind me.

Lake Serene/Bridal Veil Falls Day Hike

8.2 miles round trip / 2000+ elevation gain

I belong to several different hiking groups on multiple social media sites.  I love sharing my trip reports and photographs, but have never joined any of the groups in an actual event.  I finally decided to join a group of ladies from the PNW Outdoor Women’s Group on Facebook in a day hike to Lake Serene.

Our day started as a group meeting at Sultan Bakery, which was a great stop for coffee, pastries, and sandwiches for a trail lunch.  After a short drive from the bakery, we arrived at an almost full parking lot around 11:00 am.  We loaded our packs making sure to have the ten essentials and hit the trail.

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Me and the ladies from the PNW Outdoor Women Facebook Group, Lake Serene Trailhead, Mt. Baker – Snoqualmie National Forest, WA 

The trail starts off as a wide dirt path with a slight incline climbing through the forest.  This section of the trail was perfect for getting to know new friends as we shared hiking stories along the way.  Several bushes beside the trail were full of ripe berries to snack on.  After the first mile, the trail begins to narrow and climb higher into the forest.  At nearly two miles, we reached the sign splitting the trail to either Bridal Veil Falls or continuing up to Lake Serene.  After discussion about previous trip reports, we decided to visit the falls before we headed up the the lake.  The hike up to Bridal Veil Falls is a short but tough 1/2 mile journey.

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Bridal Veil Falls, Mt. Baker – Snoqualmie National Forest, WA

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Bridal Veil Falls, Mt. Baker – Snoqualmie National Forest, WA

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Bridal Veil Falls, Mt. Baker – Snoqualmie National Forest, WA

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Bridal Veil Falls, Mt. Baker – Snoqualmie National Forest, WA

As a group we took turns taking photographs of the waterfall and enjoying the cool mist on our warm faces.  After a short break alongside the waterfall, we were excited to head back down to the main trail and continue our hike towards Lake Serene.  Shortly after we got back onto the main trail we crossed the base of the waterfall.  It was a great spot for capturing images from a different view and resting before the toughest part of the hike.  Several other hikers were resting here as well and some were even cooling their bare feet in the shallow waters.

 

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Bridal Veil Falls, Mt. Baker – Snoqualmie National Forest, WA

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Bridal Veil Falls, Mt. Baker – Snoqualmie National Forest, WA

For me, this was a pretty tough hike.  The trail switches back and forth through the forest and becomes more and more narrow and rocky.  The group was great about waiting on each other and being supportive through the more steeper parts of the trail.  The number of stairs seemed endless as we climbed higher and higher towards our final destination.

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Trail stairs, Mt. Baker – Snoqualmie National Forest, WA

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Trail stairs, Lake Serene, Mt. Baker – Snoqualmie National Forest, WA

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Trail stairs, Lake Serene, Mt. Baker – Snoqualmie National Forest, WA

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Trail stairs, Lake Serene, Mt. Baker – Snoqualmie National Forest, WA

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Trail stairs, Lake Serene, Mt. Baker – Snoqualmie National Forest, WA

I also loved the many boardwalks and bridges!

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Boardwalk along the trail to Lake Serene, Mt. Baker – Snoqualmie National Forest, WA

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Bridge along the trail to Lake Serene, Mt. Baker – Snoqualmie National Forest, WA

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Boardwalk and bridge along the trail to Lake Serene, Mt. Baker – Snoqualmie National Forest, WA

We encountered many other hikers along the way; each one reassuring us the journey was worth it.  After what seemed like forever, we reached our final destination – Lake Serene!  Views of the lake were the perfect backdrop to a picnic lunch.

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Lake Serene, Mount Baker – Snoqualmie National Forest, WA

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Lake Serene, Mount Baker – Snoqualmie National Forest, WA

 

After a much needed rest and refueling, it was time to leave the beauty of the lake behind us, and hit the trail once again.  As we made our way down towards the trailhead, we stopped at times to enjoy the views of the valley down below.

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Views from the Lake Serene Trail, Mt. Baker – Snoqualmie National Forest, WA

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Views from the Lake Serene Trail, Mt. Baker – Snoqualmie National Forest, WA

Time flew by quickly as we hiked down towards the beginning of the trail enjoying the company of new friends.  After what seemed like no time, our group hike had come to an end.  With a round of high fives we said our goodbyes and loaded our cars for the drive home.  My first experience sharing a hike with strangers has me excited to do it again soon.  It was another perfect day surrounded by nature in the Pacific Northwest.