Hiking Washington's Goat Rocks Country
by Fred Barstad (Falcon Guides)
© 2005 Fred Barstad/Falcon Guides. All Rights Reserved.
We wanted to summit Old Snowy, but the road to Snowgrass Flats was closed, so we decided to approach it from the North, from the Packwood Lake trailhead.
The first four miles to the N. end of Packwood Lake was quite flat and a bit buggy, but not too bad. The N. end of Packwood Lake has an access road for ATV's, which isn't too bad during the week (we went in August), but it's pretty crowded on the weekend.
Campsites are along the eastern shore and on the S. end of the lake.
Leaving the lake, you follow the stream for about 3.5 miles. The trail can be a bit sketchy b/c of washouts, but is reasonably well maintained. After 3.5 miles, it begins a long ascent to gain Packwood Saddle. Make sure you get all your water containers filled on the ascent, as there's little water up high on the ridge.
The climb up to the saddle is brutal - few switchbacks, and relentless. At the Saddle, there's a campsite - if you continue on toward Elk Pass, you take the left fork and proceed about 1/4 mile. There is a small spring-fed stream which is a trickle of water, but usable with some patience.
We didn't do the rest of the loop on our way back from Old Snowy because of bad weather, but wanted to finish it off - we returned via the valley.
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