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It’s fitting that the 9-mile Iron Goat Trail is centered in the town of “Scenic” as that’s just what you’ll get on this rustic adventure: beautiful views of mountains, waterfalls, wilderness, and wildflowers. Located about an hour’s drive east of Seattle, this hiking-only pathway is nestled in the evergreens of the Cascades and follows the late 19th-century route of the Great Northern Railway. As the railway's logo featured a mountain goat, the line became known as the "Iron Goat."
Nods to the rail-trail’s history abound and interpretative signage along the route tells the corridor’s story. Beginning at the trail’s eastern end in Wellington, you will soon be immersed in a concrete “snowshed” spanning more than 2,000 feet. The towering tunnel-like structure was built to protect trains from avalanches after nearly 100 people lost their lives in a 1910 railroad disaster caused by one. Another interesting find is one of the original mileposts that notes the distance to St. Paul, Minnesota, where the railroad route began.
From Wellington, it's a 3-mile hike to Scenic, where the trail splits and forms a 6-mile loop.The trailhead here is called the "Iron Goat Interpretive Site" and includes a cherry red caboose. The looped section of the trail is dotted with several railroad tunnels, which you can peer inside but go no farther as they are considered unsafe to enter. The lower leg of the loop is a wide, ADA-accessible gravel route, while the upper leg is steeper and rougher and therefore not wheelchair accessible. At the west end of the trail, you'll reach the Martin Creek Trailhead, where a pit toilet is available.
Notes: You will need to purchase a Recreation Pass to use the trail; they can be obtained from the U.S. Forest Service’s website. Leashed pets are allowed on the trail.
Parking and a vault toilets are available at the trail's eastern trailhead in Wellington (near Stevens Pass), mid-trail at the trailhead in Scenic (off Old Stevens Pass Highway), and at the Martin Creek Trailhead (off FR 6710) on the trail's western end.
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