Romano's Ramblings - Goat Mountain and Deadman's Lake

Goat Mountain and Deadmans Lake

Roundtrip: 11.0 miles
Difficulty: difficult
Elevation Gain: 2900 feet
High Point: 5100 feet
Best Season: summer through fall
Trail Notes: Trail open to horses and mountain bikes.
Practice leave no trace principles

Trail Highlights: demarcation between blast zone and unscathed forests, old-growth,
wildflowers, subalpine lake, exceptional views of area volcanos

Directions to Trailhead
From Randle on US 12 follow SR 131 south for 2.0 miles to where it becomes FR 25. Then
continue south for 6.7 miles. Turn right (just after bridge over Cispus River) onto paved but
rough FR 26. Drive for 12.3 miles and turn right onto FR 2612. Continue for 0.3 mile to
trailhead on your right. Trailhead can also be reached from the south by following FR 99 to FR

The far northern reaches of the Mount St Helens National Volcanic Monument offer
some stark differences from its southern stretches. Farther from the volcano and its popular
surrounding landmarks, the northern corner of the monument gets overlooked by many visitors.
Trails here are far quieter—many even offering solitude. Much of this section is shrouded in
spectacular old-growth forests offering a glimpse into what much of the region looked like pre-
1980. There are a handful of backcountry subalpine lakes here too, ridgeline alpine meadows that
burst with wildflowers, cascading creeks, and lush hidden valleys that support healthy
populations of elk, bear and other critters.

One of the finest day hikes in this region is the grunt up Goat Mountain and the trek
along its open summit ridge to Deadmans Lake. It’s a spectacular journey right at the
demarcation of the blast zone. Hike along Goat Mountain’s summit ridge and be dazzled by two
worlds before you. Look south at blown down and toppled forests and a series of sparkling
alpine lakes surrounded by silver snags. Look north at alpine meadows flush with wildflowers
and hillsides cloaked in verdant old-growth canopies. This is one of the best trails for comparing
before and after the eruption landscapes.

The trail starts in an old clear-cut and wastes no time getting down to business. Via short
switchbacks start climbing, steeply at times up Goat Mountain. The trail leaves younger
regenerating forest for cool attractive old growth. Both the 1980 eruption and timber managers
spared this stand of primeval evergreens. However Goat Mountain is not within the national
volcanic monument nor a wilderness area; so permanent protection is not afforded to these trees.
While logging threats to this area have subsided, mining threats have not—there are several
active claims along the mountain’s lower elevations.

The grade eases as the trail makes a sweeping switchback to crest Goat’s ridgeline. It
then turns westward to begin a long and scenic journey across the mountain just below its ridge

crest. Along the way you’ll skirt a small open basin that cradles a pretty little tarn and a killer
view of Mount Rainier. Be sure to check it out. Then continue climbing and enter subalpine
meadows that explode with wildflower blossoms throughout the summer. The trail travels
beneath a series of knolls including the summit which is easy to scramble if you feel compelled.
But the views are excellent all along the trail as it traverses the mountain’s open southern face.
The trail soon travels along the demarcation of the 1980 blast zone. Wildflowers and
hummingbirds proliferate here. Woodpeckers too, taking to the silver snags left standing on this
high ridge. The views are breathtaking. The Green River valley spreads out below. Mount St
Helens rises above the Mount Margaret Backcountry. Mounts Adams and Mount Hood can be
seen in the distance. At about 3.5 miles the trail reaches a 4950-foot saddle. This is a good spot
to turn around for a shorter hike. Otherwise, keep hiking to reach Deadmans Lake.

The trail now traverses the north side of the ridge granting excellent views to Mount
Rainier and a basin below oft-frequented by elk. The way then steeply descends into gorgeous
old-growth forest and enters the national monument. After crossing a small creek in a boggy area
the way gently climbs and reaches a junction with an unmarked path leading right 0.4 mile to
tiny Deep Lake. It’s a brushy side trip that more than likely will assure solitude.

For Deadmans Lake continue a short distance to another junction. Head left here soon
reaching the lake. Despite its macabre name, the lake is a lively place, particularly with
amphibians and mosquitoes. The latter can be brutal early in the summer. But if they aren’t too
bad, stay awhile—there are some decent campsites here. The lake’s pumiced bottom and sandy
shore make it an attractive swim hole. And by late summer it warms up quite nicely. Enjoy the
scenic journey back to your start when ready to leave the lake.

Trail Resources:
Map: Green Trails Mount St Helens 332S
Guidebook: Day Hiking Mount St. Helens by Craig Romano and Aaron Theisen (Mountaineers
Managing Agency: Mount St Helens National Volcanic Monument and Cowlitz Valley Ranger District

Side bar
Hiking Responsibly during Covid-19
Tips for safe and healthy hiking during the Covid-19 Pandemic
It’s imperative that we do all we can to curb the outbreak of this disease while out enjoying our
parks and trails. We can do that by recreating responsibly by adhering to the following tips and

  •  Avoid crowded hiking destinations. If you arrive and the parking lot is already full, head to another location. Have a second and third choice hike pre-planned.
  • Opt for weekdays over weekends to hit the trail
  • Hit the trail early in the morning before most folks arrive
  • Avoid hiking in large groups outside of your family
  • Practice Social Distancing while on the trail, giving other hikers lots of room to pass and keeping your distance from them at lakes, summits, etc.
  • Wear a mask when encountering others on the trail. A buff or bandanna works well.
  •  Pack hand sanitizer
  •  Pack it in pack it out
  • Don’t be a surface pooper. Learn how to properly poop in the woods by always using privies first if available-or by heading at least 200 feet away from all trails, campsites and water sources and digging a cat hole for your business. Bury your waste and toilet paper or blue bag it and pack it out.
  • Pack out all pet waste.

-Craig Romano, is an award winning author of more than 25 guidebooks with Mountaineers
Books. One of the most prolific trails writers in Washington, he has hiked more than 25,000
miles in the state from the Olympics to the Blues. Visit him at