As some of you may know, I am not a hiker. I don’t really like to backpack either. It’s not that I don’t like walking through the woods with a little bit of weight on my back, quite the contrary in fact. But I often times require a bigger goal – hiking in to go climb something for example; an accomplishment at the end of the journey. Not just walking for walking’s sake.
The reason this is relevant, is that the Southern Washington’s Goat Rocks Wilderness – Nannie Ridge loop is a hiking trip. A simple overnight backpack boasting only great scenery and moderate elevation gain. And yet this is one of my favorite trips to do. I have walked this loop a half-dozen times and I am excited for the next trip I take out there to do it again. Quite simply it is beautiful, peaceful, and remote. With options for side hikes that include stunning views of the goat rocks and likely goats as well.
Beth and I took this trip in the fall when the leaves were well into turning and the night time temperatures were quite cold up high. We hoped that the cold temps would scare everybody a way and so we could have the wilderness to ourselves. We were not disappointed. There were no cars at the trailhead when we pulled in on Saturday afternoon.
Though the trip can be done in just one overnight. We decided to enjoy ourselves a little bit more (read: be lazy getting out of town Saturday) and take two nights in the wilderness. The goat rocks wilderness is livestock and pet friendly and so Roxanne was more than happy to accompany us on our journey.
The trip is fairly straightforward. We headed to Walupt Lake via Washington’s Highway 12 and several gravel forest service roads and began the hike in along the Walupt Lake trail 101. The first part was fairly flat as we walked along the lake and then it began to climb up to a small lake where you intersect the Pacific Crest Trail. Since we had left the trailhead at around 4pm we came to the small lakes just after dark but still managed to find an excellent campsite near some running water that only hat a thin layer of ice covering it.
The next day we started hiking early. On the PCT we headed north to Sheep Lake in a little over three hours, walking at a moderate pace. Once at sheep lake we claimed the best campsite (there was no competition) and headed up a nearby ridge to get a good look at the Goat Rocks range.
Up high we had an excellent view of the Goat Rocks and lots of goats too. Roxanne, cunning and instinctive as she is, had no idea that goats were nearby. Good dog. Despite my best efforts to get us lost on the way back down, we managed to find our way back to camp for a pretty cold night at 5800 feet.
The trail back down Nannie Ridge is very steep with lots of switchbacks. Its the reason I recommend doing the trip counterclockwise as we did it rather than clockwise. However, if all you wanted to do was get a glimpse of goats and rocks, the Nannie Ridge trail can get you there rapidly. We made it back down to the car from the lake in just a couple of hours.
Overall it was another beautiful trip in an excellent wilderness area. I highly recommend it.