Backpacking Goat Lake On Mt. Baker

10.6 miles round-trip
2,300 feet
Mid-summer to early fall
Are you ready for an unforgettable backpacking adventure? Look no further than Goat Lake on Mt. Baker! Tucked between Mt. Shuksan and Mt. Baker, Goat Lake is a picturesque backpacking destination that offers the perfect mix of adventure and relaxation. Whether you're a seasoned hiker or a first-timer, a one-night trip to Goat Lake is an experience you won't soon forget.
Camping at Goat Lake

Getting There

The Goat Lake trail starts at the Chain of Lakes trailhead, located near Artist's Point, and has a one-way distance of approximately 5.3 miles while gaining 1.5k feet in elevation. The road leading to the trailhead is usually open from June to October, but may close earlier due to heavy snowfall. To check the current road conditions, you can call the US Forest Service at the Glacier Public Service Center. Please be aware that this area experiences heavy winter snowfall, which can make the trails impassable for several weeks or even months after the spring opening
To find the trailhead, walk to the west end of the Chain of Lakes parking lot - this will be at the far end as you drive in. Shortly after starting your hike, you'll pass a sign for the Chain of Lakes trail. After hiking on the Chain of Lakes trail for 1.1 miles, turn left onto the unmarked Ptarmigan Ridge trail. If you continue right, you'll stay on the Chain of Lakes trail, which will eventually lead you back to the lower parking lot near the Mt. Baker Ski Area.
Mt. Shuksan with smoke
Continue your hike on the Ptarmigan Ridge trail for approximately 2.2 miles, approaching Mt. Baker to the west with Mt. Shuksan looming behind you. The Ptarmigan Ridge trail is a popular route, so you may encounter other hikers, backpackers, and climbers on your way. Along the trail, you'll find plenty of oval-leaf blueberries, which are ripe and ready to pick by September. Take a break and enjoy a snack of these sweet, juicy berries while taking in the beautiful views. Once you've snacked on enough berries and soaked in the ridge views, resume hiking towards Goat Lake.

As you near the rocky spire known as Coleman Pinnacle, about 2.2 miles into the Ptarmigan Ridge Trail, look to your left for a smaller hiker trail that descends to Goat Lake. The trail down to the lake is rocky and steep in sections, but easy enough to find. It's about 1 mile further from here to the lake, where you can set up camp for the night or turn around and retrace your steps.

The following pin shows the approximate location of the camping area near Goat Lake.

Need To Know


The best time to hike Goat Lake is typically from August through September, when the weather is mild and the majority of the snow has melted. Because of Goat Lake's high altitude and location, it's important to be prepared for changing weather conditions at any time. Depending on the year, fair weather may persist into early fall: In 2022, we were able to camp at Goat Lake in mid-October due to an exceptionally warm and dry fall season that extended the backpacking season. The week after our trip, snow began to fall and the Forest Service closed the road to Artist's Point for the season.


There are no facilities or developed campsites at Goat Lake: please pack out all waste, and camp in areas that are clear of vegetation. You can find flat, rocky areas to pitch your tent on the east side of the lake. In addition to the flat, rocky areas on the east side of the lake, you can also find good camping spots on the ridge between Goat Lake and Mt. Shuksan. Goat Lake is a reliable source of water throughout the summer, but it may stay frozen over until mid-August. If you plan to drink from the lake, be sure to purify or filter the water before consuming it

Another sunrise at Goat Lake
Lauren enjoying sunrise at Goat Lake

Other Tips

The sunrise and sunset at Goat Lake are both breathtaking. Make sure to arrive before sunset to catch the sun dipping behind Mt. Baker, and set an alarm early enough to scramble the eastern ridge before sunrise. At sunrise, gorgeous alpenglow spills over Mt. Baker, illuminating the glaciers for a precious few minutes before it dissipates.

If you're looking for other hikes in the area, the very popular Chain of Lakes loop trail starts from the same trailhead as the Goat Lake backpack. I suggest returning to Artist's Point another time to complete this hike, as you certainly won't be disappointed.

Sunset at Goat Lake
Sunrise at Goat Lake
Sun dipping behind Mt. Baker

What to Pack



Goat Lake Campsite

Camp Kitchen

Oatmeal at Ramona Falls


Backpacking near Jade Lake in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness


Backpacking the Timberline Trail on Mt. Hood


Bear Safety

When exploring Washington's beautiful North Cascades, it's important to be aware of and prepared for bear encounters. The North Cascades are home to both black and grizzly bears, which can be dangerous if approached or encountered unexpectedly.

To stay safe, always make noise while hiking to alert bears to your presence and avoid surprising them. Keep your campsite clean and store all food, trash, and scented items in bear-resistent containers, bear bags, or hung at least 10 feet off the ground and 4 feet from tree trunks.

If you do encounter a bear, stay calm and give it plenty of space. Don't approach, feed, or try to get a closer look at the bear. If the bear approaches you, make yourself look as big as possible and try to scare it away by shouting or clapping. If the bear persists or acts aggressively, deploy your bear spray if you have it and try to retreat slowly and calmly. By following these guidelines and being bear aware, you can help ensure a safe and enjoyable trip to the North Cascades.

Still have questions? Send me a message over email to connect. Happy Trails!
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About Us

Heart Rock at Joshua Tree
Thanks for visiting our travel blog, Trails And Trekking! We're Lauren and Anders - an adventure loving couple currently stationed in the Pacific Northwest. We're avid hikers, backpackers, and travelers. We're both originally from Oregon, but we've spent the last two years traveling the Pacific Northwest and beyond. We created this blog to share our passion for exploring the outdoors, and to inspire you to get outside.