Hike description: The trail Iron Goat Trail traces the route the Great Northern Railway took in opening up the Pacific Northwest. The original railroad grade was used from 1893 to 1929. When a new tunnel was completed down the hill, the old roadbed became surplus and has been turned into a day-in-the-woods history experience. Mile markers along the trail note the mileage from St. Paul, Minn., the Great Northern Railway’s home base. Along the trail you will pass walls left from the snowsheds that protected the tracks from avalanches and old tunnels that are no longer in use. Remember that the trail builders bypassed these artifacts for a reason – to provide a safe trail. Young and old should resist the temptation to explore inside and areas near them. The trail is positioned to keep you safe. The trail also offers views of the surrounding area and, close to the Wellington Trailhead, the avalanche disaster viewpoint. Plan a full day to enjoy the trail and all it has to offer.
From the Martin Creek parking lot, head northwest to milepost 1767, the farthest point of the trail. Follow the trail around to the east, six miles to the Wellington Trailhead. On the return from Wellington you will hike back about 2.75 miles to the Windy Point Crossover Trail, between mile markers 1713 and 1714. You’ll go left, down the Windy Point Crossover Trail to the interpretive site at the scenic trailhead. Take some time to check out the old caboose and the kiosk there. For the last leg of the trip you’ll hike about 2.5 miles back to the Martin Creek Trailhead and your car.
Directions: Martin Creek Trailhead (elevation 2,500 feet): Drive state Route 2 to milepost 55. Turn north onto the Old Cascade Highway, Forest Service Road 67. Drive approximately 2.3 miles to the junction with Road 6710. Take Road 6710 for 1.4 miles to the parking lot.
Difficulty rating: 2 (1 is easiest, 5 is most difficult)
Miles round-trip: 12
Elevation: 600 feet
Best time of year: May-November
Map: Green Trails No. 176; schematic map can be downloaded from www.irongoat.org/images/IGT2007.pdf
Pass: Northwest Forest Pass
Also: Accessible restroom facilities are at all three trailheads. Always carry the 10 Essentials on any outing, even paved, accessible trails like this one. Practice Leave No Trace hiking – pack out your own trash and any you find along the way. Bring your camera but please leave any artifacts and flowers you find for others to enjoy. Safety dictates that you stay on the trail and out of abandoned tunnels. As tempting as it may be, climbing on old timbers is not advised to avoid the danger of sudden collapse. Please be respectful of private property. The trail itself is on Forest Service land but some of the surrounding area is privately owned. There are several websites with lots of great information on the Iron Goat Trail; check them out as you plan your trip; www.bcc.ctc.edu/cpsha/irongoat/; www.wsdot.wa.gov/regions/northcentral/projects/irongoatinterpretive. Check with the Ranger District for current trailhead pass information as this can change.
Info: Contact ranger station for current trail Contact ranger station for current trail and road conditions: Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest Skykomish Ranger District 360-677-2414, www.fs.fed.us/r6/mbs/recreation; “Day Hiking, Central Cascades” and “Best Hikes with Kids Western Washington & the Cascades,” both Mountaineers Books.
Hike of the Week is presented by The Mountaineers Tacoma Branch Hiking/Backpacking Committee