Fort Lawton, WA
Explorer | 30 pts
A great hike with a superb view in every direction! It was also quite nice to meet Lightning Bill Austin, the ranger manning the lookout station, and Shiloh the Thunderdog. Bill was very hospitable, took my picture for his album, and had a lot of stories to tell about life on top of the world.
The trail directions led me accurately to the trailhead, although some of the mileages on the legs seemed a tiny bit inflated. The time and distance estimates for the length of the hike was also inflated -- I came prepared with enough water and time for a 6 hour / 5 miles round trip through a sun-exposed face. I was pleasantly surprised to reach the top in under an hour, after a very shady 1.8 mile (by my GPS) walk through lovely forest and meadowland. With *lots* of dawdling for view-watching and picture-taking, my round trip was more like 3 hours. The 6 hour figure possibly reflects time to negotiate the old trail on the southern face of Goat Peak.
The trail is in great shape. It is a bit steep in spots, but with appropriate switchbacks. In between the steep spots are several fairly level meadows with fine views to break up the climb. Wildflowers were out in abundance, and the views all along the way were incredible.
I stopped to log the geocache placed in honor of Bill, and also to place a new terracache near the top.
This was a very fine hike, and one that I will definitely do again on my next trip to the Methow Valley.