#6 Goat Peak Okanogan Range
Location: 48.6321769, -120.4048947
Summit Elevation: 7,001′
Lookout Type: 15′ timber L-4
Site Established: 1923
Current Structure Built: 1950
Dates Visited: 8x. 9/28/11 (first), 10/5/17 (last)
The most prominent landmark in the beautiful Methow Valley, Goat Peak is famous for two things: it’s dazzling fall larch show and “Lightning Bill” Austin, one of the forest service’s few seasonal full-time lookouts who staffed the lookout for 19 seasons before moving to Leecher.
Photos above are from numerous visits between 2011 and 2017.
The original D-6 cupola cabin at Goat Peak was constructed in 1923 by the Chelan National Forest and then replaced in 1950 with the current L-4 cab on a 15′ timber tower. Goat Peak has been staffed every year until 2014, it’s most most famous resident being “Lightning Bill” Austin.
“Lightning Bill” is the Forest Service’s only seasonal full-time fire lookout and spent 19 years at Goat Peak before moving to Leecher Mountain in 2015. People from all around came to see Bill and he was the prime reason Goat Peak lookout received up to 2,000 visitors per season! It’s also the most prominent landmark in the Methow Valley.
In 2017, the Goat Peak lookout became a strategic location for relaying information to firefighters battling the 128,000 acre Diamond Creek Fire. The lookout was wrapped for protection when the fire continued to advance but Mother Nature finally stepped with some fall rain to control the fire and Goat Peak was unwrapped a short time later.
Though Goat Peak is no longer seasonally staffed, it is still actively maintained by the Forest Service and used as-needed during times of emergency or severe weather.
Although nearly every websites shows Goat Peak as a 5 mile roundtrip hike, it’s really much closer to 3.5 miles round trip. Though the trail starts relatively easy in open forest, after a half mile it turns upward and gains most of its elevation in a series of tight switchbacks to the summit.
About a half mile short of the summit, the views open up to Silver Star and Gardner with the lookout visible in the distance. A large cairn block dedicated to all of the Goat Peak lookouts is just below the summit near a helipad.
In the fall, this trail turns into a dazzling show with colorful golden larches and beautiful views of the Pasayten, North Cascades, and Tiffany Highlands.
This is one of my favorite lookouts and has always been a special place to me. In 2011, I hiked up to the lookout with my folks and we met “Lightning Bill” and his two dogs Shilo and Blaze. We sat with him for over an hour, listening to stories and talking about history. In fact, it was then I first thought of the idea of trying to visit all of Washington’s lookouts, but it would take several more years for the idea to become an action.
I lived in the Methow Valley between 2013-2016 and visited Goat Peak several times over the years, every time with my adventure dog Jake, who I lost in January of 2019.
We hiked up the mountain in sun, in rain, and even in snow. I was always fascinated by the seasonal changes at Goat Peak. It was a completely different mountain every time I visited.
After my last visit in October 2017 with Jake, I finally returned to Goat Peak in the fall of 2019 with my new adventure dog Hudson.
From Mazama, drive east on Goat Greek Road 1.8 miles and turn left onto Forest Road 52. Continue for 2.8 miles, turning left onto Forest Road 5225. In 5.6 miles, turn right onto Forest Road spur 200 and continue 3 miles to the trailhead.