Goat Falls –“Kid-friendly” snowshoe trip near Mount Rainier National Park

 

Thundering Goat Falls hidden in a chasm.

Thundering Goat Falls hidden in a chasm.

Quick Facts

Location: White River Valley

Land Agency: Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest

Roundtrip:  2.5 miles

Elevation gain: 500 feet

Green Trails Map: Mount Rainier Wonderland no. 269S

Contact: Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest; Snoqualmie Ranger District

Notes: Northwest Forest Pass required at actual trailhead. When snow level is low, parking may be a challenge. Do not block access to substation gate or any of the adjacent cabins

Access: From Enumclaw follow SR 410 for 32 miles turning left (just past Milepost 56) onto FR 7174. Immediately come to a power substation on your right. Park here (but do not block gate).

Good to Know: kid-friendly, dog-friendly, old-growth, snowshoe, spring hike

 

This is a short and fairly easy snowshoe trip up to a small waterfall tucked in a hidden rocky slot. While it’s located close to the popular Silver

Big trees line the way.

Big trees line the way.

Springs Campground, it’s not very well trodden.  The actual trailhead is about .75 mile from the substation parking area and is easily accessed in the warmer months when the snow level is well above the valley. However, in winter the road leading to the trailhead is only occasionally plowed and when it is—there isn’t much room on the roadway and no place to turn around. So it’s best to hike or snowshoe up the road to the trailhead.

Walk or snowshoe up FR 7174 passing rows of charming old cabins leased on Forest Service land. At about .5 mile turn right onto another roadway leaving FR 7174. Walk another .25 mile on road coming to its end at a small parking area (which may be buried in snow) wedged between a couple of cabins. This is the official trailhead.

Now strap your snowshoes on if you haven’t already and follow alongside tumbling Goat Creek. Ignore a footbridge and continue up the creek’s right bank skirting a couple of more cabins. Work your way up the increasingly tighter valley embracing the creek. Admire impressive old Douglas-firs, western hemlocks and western red cedars growing along the crashing creek.

Impressive icicles warrant  caution along with admiration.

Impressive icicles warrant caution along with admiration.

Come to a nice bridge spanning the waterway and continue up valley. The surrounding slopes get steeper and tighter making the way more interesting. Louder too as the creek’s crashing is amplified off of overhanging ledges. Look up at those ledges too as they are usually draped in a dramatic display of icicles resembling stalactites. Be careful not to cross too close beneath them as they do break apart and can be quite dangerous with their sharp points.

The way gets a little steeper as it approaches Goat Falls. Make a log crossing over a gully that may be a little tricky if buried in deep snow. Then make one final grunt climbing beneath a steep mossy and ice covered ledge emerging at the foot of the falls plunging ten feet through a tight chasm. Goat Falls aren’t very high or wide, but when there is good water flow they’re pretty impressive squeezing through a narrow rocky slot. After enjoying the frosty waterfall, retrace your steps back towards your start. If you are still in the mood to explore, consider extending your trip on the nearby White River Trail.

For more information on other great winter hikes, consult one of my guidebooks.

For more information on other kid-friendly attractions nearby, including at Crystal Mountain and Mount Rainier National Park, consult NW TripFinder.

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