Goat Mountain

Beargrass flowers on the Goat Mountain Trail

The Goat Mountain Trail ascends more than 4000 feet in 3 miles, some say it’s the steepest trail in Idaho. The large elevation gain made this hike feel a lot longer than 3 miles, but the solitude and views were more than worth the effort. The steep trail grade tested my determination, but with a slow and steady approach I made it to the top. If you are looking for a very challenging hike near Sandpoint with beautiful scenery, this is your trail.

View of Scotchman Peak from the summit of Goat Mountain

The Goat Mountain Trail ascends more than 4000 feet in 3 miles, some say it’s the steepest trail in Idaho. The large elevation gain made this hike feel a lot longer than 3 miles, but the solitude and views were more than worth the effort. The steep trail grade tested my determination, but with a slow and steady approach I made it to the top. If you are looking for a very challenging hike near Sandpoint with beautiful scenery, this is your trail.

Directions:
From Sandpoint, drive east on highway 200 to Clark Fork. Turn left just past the Chevron onto Main Street, then immediately after Main Street veers east, turn left on Lightning Creek Road. The trailhead is just before the 3 mile marker and identified as trail 135. Parking is on the side of the road.

http://www.scotchmanpeaks.org/hiking/self-styled-hikes/goat-mountain-trail-135/

Goat Mountain Trail Topo

Despite being Fourth of July, I had the Goat Mountain Trail completely to myself. Unlike many others hikes near Sandpoint, the Goat Mountain Trail was steep from the very first step. Loose dirt and gravel necessitated hiking much of the first mile and a half on my toes to avoid slipping. I was glad to have my trekking poles which were exceptionally helpful going up, and nearly required on the way down.

Huckleberry bushes and beargrass grew into the trail for much of the bottom and middle sections. Beargrass flowers were in full bloom and a slight jostle would set off a cream colored cloud of pollen. At one point I had walked into so many beargrass flowers that it looked like I had been on the losing end of a fierce chalkboard eraser fight.

Beargrass Pollen

The trail loosely follows a ridgeline all they way to the Goat Mountain summit. At some points though, the trail is overgrown or offers multiple paths, but just stay on top of the ridge and hike uphill. After a long ascent with continually unfolding views of Lake Pend Oreille and surrounding peaks, the trail drops into a saddle roughly a half mile after Anticipation Point (5,729 ft). The final stretch is a sustained, lightly forested talus slope. The summit provided great views of the backside of Scotchman Peak, Lake Pend Oreille and other peaks in the proposed Scotchman Peaks Wilderness.

Lake Pend Oreille from Goat Mountain

While faster, going down was nearly as difficult as the uphill slog. Little steps were often required to avoid slipping. Even with trekking poles, I slipped a few times on lower trail sections with loose dirt. I am very glad I did this hike, even with the added challenges. Some of the higher segments of the trail were stunningly beautiful with wildflowers up close surrounded by panoramic mountain views that seemed to start at the end of my feet. I love being in these grand and wild settings that make me feel so small yet alive.

2 Comments

  1. What a fabulous view! Sounds like a scary hike to me, but worth all the effort to reach the top! Good for you, dear David!! Keep on hiking!

  2. Hi David, hard to get 4000′ vert in that short a distance! Must be almost a staircase, lots of fun. PS Kaelyn moved to Denver and is exploring some of the trails in the Front Range…keep up the posts, makes me feel as though I’m struggling right with you up the trail.

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