Snowgrass Flat — Saturday, Jul. 23, 2011
Type of HikeOvernight
Trail ConditionsObstacles on trail:
Muddy or wet trail.
If you like hiking and camping on snow you will like this hike now because of the great views, but if not wait a month and maybe there will be more snow free landscape and fields of wildflowers. Saturday the Randle RD was reporting snow the last ¾ mile. Snow patches the first 3 miles probably add up to an additional ¾ mile. If you stop at the bypass trail junction there might only be ¾ mile of snow if you don’t count any of the snow before the trail is 100 % covered. There are lots of mud and water, and several blow downs on the trail the first 3 miles. I found the only snow free place in Snowgrass Flat, a knoll with great views, to camp. The weather was mild, in fact Saturday afternoon was hot. This was my first trip to Snowgrass Flat, so I am not sure where the trail junctions are, but based on my map I hiked well beyond the Goat Lake Trail junction beyond upper Snowgrass Flat. Snow is 3-6 feet deep so there is no visible trail. I stopped about where the ridge line (Old Snowy and Ives Peaks) at the upper end of the wide open spaces about as far north as I could go before the ridge became very steep. I wish I would have kept hiking to the top of the ridge. The views are fantastic even where I turned around. Mt. Adams, Mt. St. Helens, and part of Mt. Rainier were visible from my vantage point. The knoll I mentioned earlier was a great place to camp. I enjoyed the sunset and sunrise as I sat and looked at Mt. Adams and St. Helens. My camp was the busiest location in the area. I should have set up a snack bar. I enjoyed the surprised looks of 2 overnight and 2 day hiking parties who also noticed this snow free knoll but didn’t notice me until they arrived a few feet from my tent. Because the knoll about 300 feet elevation above the route that we all hiked was the only snow free spot in the area it was the final destination of 8 or the 12-14 people that hiked into Snowgrass Flat Saturday. They were not exited to see me because two of those groups were expecting to set up camp. I may have missed part of the crowd because I was away from camp about 4 hours Saturday afternoon. There is a sign at the TH suggesting alternative trails because of the crowds. I was surprised how few people there were even with the snow. There are a few mosquitoes, even at the higher elevations, and a few wildflowers (trillium, avalanche lily, yellow violets, marsh marigold) along the first couple of miles of trail. There are many small creeks, and Goat Creek and the waterfalls above and below the foot bridge attractive with the creek full of snowmelt roaring down the mountainside. Wildlife observations consist of marmots, gray jays and Clark’s nutcrackers. The latter scolded me and each other just before dark. An entire family of jays showed up in force while I was eating breakfast Sunday morning. One landed on my hand in an attempt to eat my oatmeal. Photography was difficult because of the bright light reflected from the snow. Polaroid glasses and sunscreen are essential. In fact, all of the ten essentials could come in handy. You need good route finding skills if you take on this hike before the snow melts. More photos: http://outdoors.webshots.com/album/580642068mJaWzE