Nanny Goat Mountain by Burch Mountain via Billy Goat Trail / 母山羊山

  • Reading time:15 mins read

Nanny Goat Mountain by Burch Mountain perches above Lost River Gorge. Of all route choices, Billy Goat Trail offers direct access. Best of all, the less-visited peak sees many of Washington State’s 200 highest peaks.

Nanny Goat Mountain summit ridge
Nanny Goat Mountain summit ridge

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Nanny Goat Mountain at a Glance

Access: Billy Goat Trailhead
Round Trip: 17 miles
Elevation Range: 4640′-7700′
Gear: microspikes
Route Info: wildernessed
GPS Track: available
Dog-Friendly: with guidance

The Preface on Nanny Goat Mountain

I met 5 to 6 Washington Trails Association (WTA) volunteers on Saturday morning at the lower Billy Goat Trailhead. Over a brief chat, I learned that they had spent a few days clearing the Hidden Lakes Trail by handsaws.

Then I met another volunteer at the upper trailhead and chatted for a bit. Bernt had driven from Port Townsend to help with the trail work. A big shout-out to everyone for the time and effort that often went unnoticed.

This way to Nanny Goat Mountain
This way to Nanny Goat Mountain

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Billy Goat Trail to Eightmile Pass

The 2017 Diamond Creek Fire had devastated the area extensively. So far, the national forest has cleared the trail of windfalls to the wilderness boundary at Eightmile Pass. Then the WTA crew worked on the first 1.25 miles past that point.

The pups and I hiked the Billy Goat Trail before going onto Hidden Lakes Trail at mile 0.5. Before the trip, I had forgotten all about the old burn. But I knew the two miles to the pass was as good as it would be on this trip.

A morning stroll through Pasayten Wilderness
A morning stroll through Pasayten Wilderness

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Hidden Lakes Trail to Drake Creek

Soon, we walked past Bernt and Patrick as they set up below the other side of the pass. The rest of the group would join them later. Then right after we crossed the stream feeding into Jinks Creek, things started to look dire.

It’s hard to put into words to convey the exact conditions. But let’s say we never had a break from the crisscrossing windfalls over the trail. We had been through the burn area once before, but it felt worse this time.

This way to Drake Creek
This way to Drake Creek

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Drake Creek to Lucky Pass

Back then, we spent most of our time traversing ridgelines. So despite the massive down trees on the valley floor, we skipped most of it. But this time, we didn’t need to run the ridge and had to stick to the basins.

The stretch past the charred bridge over Drake Creek to Lucky Pass was the worst. The fanning branches had made it even more unbearable for the pups. They couldn’t hop over or crawl under when bypassing was more work.

Fighting the type 2 fight
Fighting the type 2 fight

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Lucky Pass to Hoot Owl Camp

We got a brief break from the rubble near Lucky Pass. But we still had to weave through the debris on Nanny Goat Mountain’s south side. Since the windfalls took over entirely, it was a scramble over an otherwise decent trail.

In hindsight, camping on the pass would’ve saved us a trip to Hoot Owl Camp. But I wanted to scope out the route to Rampart Ridge for the pups. So we fought our way through another 1.5 miles to the decent camp at 5500′.

Lucky Pass to Hoot Owl Camp
Lucky Pass to Hoot Owl Camp

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Scouting Out Rampart Ridge

The camp was the only spot in the forest with an opening and a seasonal stream. Soon, I set up the tent with views of Lost Peak, Rampart Ridge, and Many Trails Peak out west. After a short break, we took off for the valley floor.

We made a little over two miles to the second switchback through more down trees. Then we scrambled to Lost River with even more debris strewing the valley floor at 4000′. To top it off, we crossed several streams to reach the shore.

Scouting out the gully
Scouting out the gully

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Back to Hoot Owl Camp by Nanny Goat Mountain

Apart from the raging river, Point 7407’s northeast gully didn’t look feasible for the pups. Also, given the high water, I couldn’t tell if we could cross the creek safely. So I decided to come back without the dogs later.

Dinner with a view sounded lovely at the moment. By the time we returned to camp, I was ready to call it a day. But I decided to visit Nanny Goat Mountain today since it was another two hours until sunset.

Lost River valley floor
Lost River valley floor

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Nanny Goat Mountain West Route

From camp, Nanny Goat Mountain was 2200′ above over 1.25 miles. But the lack of sleep had taken its toll, so it was half walking and half dozing off. Meanwhile, I kept the dogs close after seeing some bear scat earlier.

Views expanded below Point 6733, where we veered southeast on the crest over dry rocks. We made a beeline through the snowfield when the ridge appeared. Meanwhile, we postholed every few feet to the end of the snow.

One step closer to Nanny Goat Mountain
One step closer to Nanny Goat Mountain

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Nanny Goat Mountain Summit Views

Glad I didn’t carry snowshoes all this way since I would only need them for the last 400′. But microspikes came in handy through the icy incline despite the steepness. Before long, we reached the top after scrambling for 100′.

Knowing we’d go down the mountain partly in the dark, we didn’t stay long. So many places I had wanted to see in broad daylight, so little time. In hindsight, we should’ve skipped Lost River and come up sooner.

Western panoramic view on Nanny Goat Mountain
Western panoramic view from Nanny Goat Mountain

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Leaving Nanny Goat Mountain

Twenty minutes was all we could spare to savor the views before leaving. I also saw the four places we climbed in the mists last year by Isabella Ridge. Then we returned to the snow after downclimbing through the scree.

It went much faster once we went below the snow back into the trees. Before long, we had dropped 2200′ and enjoyed a quick dinner at camp. The dogs couldn’t have gone inside the tent soon enough to catch a wink.

Southern panoramic view
Southern panoramic view from Nanny Goat Mountain

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Retracing Steps Back to Drake Creek

Despite the rainy forecast earlier in the week, the conditions had improved. After a full day of sunshine, at night, the stars even came out for a while. Then we enjoy a sunny morning before leaving.

The thought of going through the massive windfalls had me procrastinate until 11:30. But going down Lucky Pass, I spotted places with fewer logs and made a beeline for them. Then it rained right before we reached Drake Creek.

Eightmile Pass awaits
Eightmile Pass awaits

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Eightmile Pass and Out

We wouldn’t have been as wet had it not for my turtle speed through the windfalls. The damp logs had also slowed us down. But when the trail suddenly cleared, I knew that the trail crew had done more work since we went in. Hooray!

The last 1.25 miles back to Eightmile Pass went by in the blink of an eye as the rain subsided. It’s incredible how much time the down trees had set us back! Grr, better remember to check the fire map next time.

Finding our way home
Finding our way home

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