10 mi rt
gain: ~1500 ft
max: 5970 ft
gpx track, use at your own risk: Ptarmigan
This hike has always been one of my favorites. The elevation gain is minimal but the views are outstanding. I usually don’t come out here on a weekend during the summer because there tends to be a lot of others so I save this one for when I am on break.
Parking is at Artist Point, the very end of Highway 532. The Ptarmigan trail shares a trailhead with Table Mountain (one day I should go up Table). The first mile is side-hilling along the side of Table, you can see the trail in the picture above.
After the mile there is a junction where if you go right you can do the Chain Lakes loop. For Ptarmigan, go left. As the saying goes, you got to get down to go up (that isn’t really a saying but it should be) and at this point the trail does lose just a little elevation, not much, but then gains that little (+ a little) back.
The views along the way are phenomenal! The trail does pass through some rock fields so watch your head because these guys are always out there!
This image above is of the hill across the valley from the trail right before you get to Goat Lake. There is a reason they call it Goat Lake. I don’t think I have ever been out here and not seen the herd. They are all laying down on the hillside but can you see the guy rolling around on his back? I later found out they like to take dust baths to help control pests.
There was a family much closer to the trail down by Goat Lake have a snack along the way.
The trails drops down to Goat Lake at a little over 4 miles. You could continue along the main trail out to Kiser, a base camp for climbing nearby peaks as well as a little used approach to Baker. Today I chose the lake.
This is the lowest I have ever seen the lake and I do this hike just about every year.
There is a hill next to the lake and I often go up it, I did today. From up there you have views of Shuksan, the lake and Baker, what more could I ask for.
On the way back out to the truck there was what looked like an explosion, reminded me of when St Helens erupted just smaller. Turns out it was a huge flare-up of the Goodell fire over by Newhalem.