Valley of the Trails
Goat Wall is a huge granite outcropping that looms high above the western end of the Methow Valley. The views from the top of this escarpment are outstanding. Below you are pasturelands and residences bordering the Methow River; above are the jagged peaks that surround Washington Pass. Fit cyclists with a taste for vistas will appreciate this demanding 28-mile road ride.
The first seven miles switchback up 2,560 feet. The ascent is evenly divided between easy and moderately difficult climbing, with about one-half mile of steep hills. This climb is followed by a 1.5-mile descent into Black Pine Basin. Then the road rolls up and down through the basin for close to three miles and climbs again for two miles. You descend from this point to meet Lost River Road. The last eight miles are an easy paved road ride back to your vehicle.
Most of the roads are gravel and in good condition. The four miles that descend from the mountain are on a weathered dirt road that drops off like a high dive.
General location: This ride begins approximately 11.5 miles northwest of Winthrop, Washington.
Elevation change: The ride begins at 2,240' and climbs to 4,800' atop Goat Wall. A high point of 5,000' occurs after the climb out of Black Pine Basin. Undulations on the ride add an estimated 500' of climbing to the trip. Total elevation gain: 3,260'.
Season: The ride is best from the late spring through the fall.
Services: There is no water available on this ride. Water is available seasonally at the Early Winters Campground on WA 20. Phone, gas, limited groceries, and espresso are available at the Mazama Country Store. All services can be found in Winthrop.
Hazards: Stay in control while descending on FS 100; it is a steep and degraded dirt road. Ride defensively and watch for traffic at all times.
Rescue index: Help can be found in Winthrop. You may also be able to obtain assistance in Mazama.
Land status: Okanogan National Forest.
Maps: The district map of the western half of the Winthrop Ranger District is a good guide to this route. USGS 7.5 minute quads: Rendezvous Mountain, Mazama, and McLeod Mountain.
Finding the trail: From locations to the west, drive east on WA 20 from Early Winters Campground. In 1.9 miles, turn left onto Lost River Road toward Mazama. Cross the river and bear to the right onto CR 1163 in Mazama. Turn left onto gravel Goat Creek Road/FS 52 in another 1.9 miles. From locations to the east, travel west from Winthrop on WA 20. After 7 miles on WA 20, turn right onto CR 1163 (just before the bridge over the Winthrop River), where a sign directs you toward Hart's Pass and Goat Creek Road. Drive 4.5 miles on CR 1163 and turn right onto Goat Creek Road/FS 52. Proceed down FS 52 for 0.3 mile and turn right onto a spur road. Park in the clearing.
Notes on the trail: Continue on FS 52 for 2.3 miles to an intersection where FS 5225 breaks off hard left and FS 52 goes straight. Turn left onto FS 5225 toward Goat Peak Lookout. Stay on the main road as spur roads break off to the left and right. Notice the mileposts that mark this roadÂ—the Goat Wall viewpoint is 0.3 mile beyond milepost 4. After checking out the view, continue on FS 5225 for nearly 5 miles to a Y intersection at signed FS 600. Turn right onto FS 600 and climb to the high point of the ride, which occurs at a cattle guard and a green gate. FS 600 descends briskly from this spot. Slow down after FS 600 switchbacks hard to the right, 1 mile past the cattle guard. Descend for another 0.5 mile to unmarked FS 650, which is marked by an orange, diamond-shaped symbol on a tree; the road crosses a wet, open area. Turn right onto FS 650; bear left at a fire ring and left again where an overgrown road goes right at a T intersection. You are now on unsigned FS 100. Rag-doll down the hill for several miles; you will emerge into a meadow near two vault toilets. Continue straight, then turn left onto unsigned, paved Lost River Road. Follow the pavement back to FS 52 and your vehicle.
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Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication