There’s this invisible line that separates the beautiful state of Oregon from the rest of the beautiful northwest, the gorgeous state of Washington. It’s not that I don’t have enough places to write about in Oregon, it’s just there are some places in Washington that are too interesting to ignore. One of these places is known as the Iron Goat Trail, and from my understanding, this little hike is creepy as hell.
Personally, I have yet to hike Iron Goat Trail myself, but best believe I’m making this trail a priority! As you can see in the map, from Portland you’re looking at about a 4-hour drive, which in my opinion is absolutely worth a weekend road trip.
Before we get to the hike, let’s get to the fascinating history of this place… The following is reprinted from www.irongoat.org…
The story of the Iron Goat began over 100 years ago when the last spike of the Great Northern Railway was driven, completing one of the most remarkable engineering feats of the nineteenth century. It marked the crossing of the Cascades at Stevens Pass which helped open the Pacific Northwest to settlement and trade with the rest of the world. This feat was recognized by establishment of the Stevens Pass Historic District in 1976.
The Great Northern route was the best engineered of the transcontinental railways. The original route over the pass consisted of an intricate set of switchbacks cut into the mountainside. While the switchbacks were an engineering triumph, they had serious disadvantages.
The Cascade Tunnel, completed in 1900, bypassed the switchbacks. Several snowsheds were also added for safety, but winter conditions still presented serious hazards. Trains were often stopped for days in winter storms.
In 1910, snowslides delayed two trains at the town of Wellington. A vast section of snow on Windy Mountain broke loose and crashed down, sweeping both trains off the tracks into Tye Creek below. Rescue efforts were quickly organized, but nearly one hundred lives were lost.
This single event made Wellington the site of one of the worst railroad disasters in the nation’s history and also the most tragic snow avalanche. This prompted more improvements to avoid such tragedy striking again. As rail traffic increased, a “new” Cascade Tunnel was completed in 1929. This eight-mile tunnel is still in use today by the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad. The opening of the new tunnel made the old grade obsolete and it was abandoned completely. It is this abandoned stretch that comprises the Iron Goat Trail today.
Here is a great map to give you an idea of the hike, which is about a 5.5 mile loop located near Skymosish.
Some who hike this trail claim that the victims of the Wellington avalanche are still there. There have been reports of disembodied voices echoing through the avalanche tunnel when no one else is there or no one else accompanying them has spoken.
Visitors say they have felt invisible hands touch them, with their hair standing on end for no reason. Some have claimed to have even seen full-on apparitions. While the trail may be eerie, it’s also a beautiful hike.
Here is a bridge you can cross during the hike.
Here’s a concrete bunker type thing designed to hold off avalanches.
There are also many “Interpretive Signs” in the area. You can read all the history while you hike.
Here is a fascinating photo, capturing the remains of a retaining wall along the trail.
And ghosts may not be the only thing you have to worry about… Here is a sign that was posted some time ago on the trail warning of a mother bear with her 2 cubs!
So if this hike may be a little too creepy for you, or you simply want to find a hike more local to Oregon, click here to check out 18 more “friendlier” places to hike.