Peak(s):  Goat Mountain - 7797
Pt 7558
Date Posted:  02/15/2017
Modified:  03/29/2017
Date Climbed:   02/13/2017
Author:  boudreaux
 Goat Mountain & Pt 7558: A Bear Of A Traverse   

Waterton Canyon TH
Goat Mountain 7797
UN 7558
At least 10 miles
Time: 7 hrs, 15 min?

This all started last month when I met Gary. He expressed an interest in hiking in Waterton Canyon, so we set up a tentative date and a simple plan to do Goat that evolved into this epic traverse. It was an overcast gray day in the 40's, gentle winds, but otherwise a good day for a hike. The 1+ mile walk on the canyon road went fast and we went up the only way you can. We cut right below the overhead waterpipe into the gulch and turned a little to the left to get on the loose, gravelly beginning of the trail up the long SE/E ridge, a climber's trail atop the ridge as it undulates and rolls to the summit far to the west, about 2.75 miles of this ridge. You will climb over many small points along the way, so don't give up until you reach the point with the small aluminum pole adorned with beer cans rocking gently in the wind. It was a typical day for us! At the summit by 11:30 AM after an 9:15 AM start, we talk about doing the next part of the adventure, something I always wanted to do, but could never commit to do solo, a daring traverse down into Cottonwood Gulch and up the scrub choked, thick forested north slopes of 7558 and out on the canyon road.

After a short stay at the top of Goat, we start down and plan our descent, picking out a couple of ridges about 375' below the summit leading into the 1,400' deep gorge below us. At 12 noon we drop down fighting the nasty scrub and linking up open spaces here and there. We didn't exactly follow the plan, but we got down the best we could and sometimes the scub made us detour a little. The deep bottom was very narrow, maybe no more than 50' wide, a little ice in the creek bed and a game trail following the creek littered with huge piles of bear scat. I point at one and say, "This is why I could never do this Gary!" I always knew they were down here and never wanted to face meeting one alone.

We walk a few yards west and finally pick a tiny little ridge and start up the beginning of an 1,100' climb, passing more bear dens along the way, I mean the scat was everywhere. We fought through the thickets, the forest and wandered all over the place. You really didn't know where you were, but just knew you were grinding up the slope. We tried to take the path of least resistance, using game trails, but the scrub was the boss of this world and we knew it and acquiesced! We got a glimpse of the summit once and measured our success by looking back at Goat, it was slow going.

We finally got into a clean forest, but it was only for a few brief precious minutes, then more thickets. We cross a ridge and continue up as it was clearly the way to go and see the final summit looming still 200' above. That was a relief to us, but a small rockband separated us from the top. We easily scaled the rocks and more steep forest ahead to go. Finally I spot something I've seen before, a crescent of rocks below a tree, sorta a semi circle, but made by someone. I was elated that we were almost there. "Just a little more Gary". I was so relieved to be on the top on Pt 7558, the cairn in view, the little clearing I created 3 years ago still there.

Wow, I was tired, Gary looked like he wanted to do Turkshead Peak off to the south across another deep gorge! Not too many hikers brave the scrub of Waterton to climb this lonely, trail less point. In the almost 7 years of the summit register, only myself and Steve Knapp and surprisingly Brian Kalet have ever been up here, with me doing the bulk of the trips. Another name added, and I confidently believe we are the 1st to do this traverse from Goat to here. We laugh at the thought of doing a repeat. Why would you, a one of those 'You must be out of your damn mind' thoughts! It was about 2 PM, it took us 2 hours to get here, not really that far, but hell to pay to earn that real estate.

We descended down to Waterton on the east ridge of 7558, slow going too from you guessed it, that thick nasty scrub, but some of it was it had been a long time and the memories were coming back slowly. Weaving back and forth along that ridge, the canyon in view now, wishing I was there type of thing going on. I suggested a different route down into Bear Creek, but dismissed it. Just follow the ridge and let's get this over with. At the ridge terminus, we encounter some boulders and cliffs, I had Gary worried for a minute, but reassured him it was passable and we scramble and cut through to the river side of the boulders and drop down to a good bighorn trail to the river road and enjoy a nice rest at the picnic table at the mouth of Bear Creek. That took an hour, but it seemed longer, it is what it is in Waterton! The east ridge might be between 1.5 to 2 miles, treeless just like Goat, and maybe even hotter, if that's possible, in the summer cause of a lower altitude.

Gary got the best guided Tour of Waterton I can think of, what a tremendous effort on a couple 7'ers. We casually walked the 3+ miles out of the canyon, trying not to get run over by mtn bikers.

If you go make sure you wear pants, lots of tough bushwhacking, don't wear your favorite expensive hiking gear, it will get torn to pieces! You might see some bighorns, but also elk, turkeys and deer! Guaranteed to see some bear s**t! Yogi and Booboo may roll out the red carpet for you if you bring a pic-a-nic basket!

I think the late fall through early spring is the best time to hike Goat Mountain. Mainly because it's not hot and the leaves have fallen off most of the scrub. The leaves hold a lot of moisture from snow, frost, rain and passing through that soaks you pretty good. During the summer and early fall before the snows, the leaves trap heat along the trail making it almost unbearable. The thick foliage also hides some of the beasts lurking below like rattlesnakes. I have never seen a rattlesnake on the mountain, but they are there! The trail is mostly void of trees, but can be hiked in the summer providing you bring at least a couple litres of water, sunscreen and a wide hat to cover your head and neck. I like to go mid morning all year around so most of the critters are already gone for the day, especially the lions!

In the winter, there can be plenty of snow, depends on the severity of the storm, but I have seen some 3 and 4 foot drifts on the ridgeline, but usually waiting a few days and this will be gone. The lack of trees and the southern exposure will take care of that snow. If there is a trench in place already or you work together with partners making a trench, then you are good to go. It's not an easy task, and the trail is not easy to follow with deep snow. Trying to avoid ridge points by traversing the south slopes is not a great idea, gets you into more thick scrub, some rock scrambling combined with nasty scrub and takes more time route finding. Believe me, I've done it, and I was exhausted trying to do it. There are a few hardy souls I've noticed who like to be the 1st one up after a snowstorm, me included occasionally, but you can't really expect a trench to be there for you on this obscure little knob. Bringing snowshoes is a big mistake. Trail is too narrow for that, shoes will get hung up in the scrub and decking will get shredded!

The winds can get pretty nasty too! You're hiking on top of the ridge the entire time, strong winds are blowing across the ridge frequently. Just take a look at some of the trees on the upper mountain, they are twisted, topped and struck by lightning. If the weather gets bad, you don't want to be on that ridge. So don't wait til it's too late to make a decision to turn back. After you get past a certain point above Cottonwood Gulch, there are no easy and safe escape routes. There are steep gorges on both sides of the east ridge, going down either side in the wrong place and you just turned your fun day into an epic saga of survival. I'm always looking at the clouds, watching the horizon for menacing thunderheads. You're at the mercy of the mountain.

A variation of this route starts at the ridge coming down to the road at the diversion dam. About 2 miles in the canyon? You can either start from the ridge at the road or take the steep slopes in the road bend a 1/4 mile from the dam to access the ridge and then follow said ridge to the main East ridge of Goat. It's not too bad of an ascent and takes you just below the rocky sub point you can see from the road. You will encounter some heavy scrub, but there is some relief with lots of clearings along the way. It's not a faster way up, just a different route to consider. So you've been appraised of the situation and warned! Adventure awaits!

It usually takes me about 2.5 to 3 hours to get up, and 2 to get down, 4.5 to 5 hour RT. I consider myself to be a fairly competent hiker, but if your not good at route finding or hiking on a rough trail it may take you more than 5 hours. Taking longer than that could lead to trouble, be careful! The narrow, tight path hides a lot of tripping obstacles, tripping and falling happen! Look where you are stepping!

Here's a sample of what I did recently: TH to waterpipes 30 min; pipes to firebreak 24 min (heading north up SE ridge); 1st point 11 min (heading west on E ridge); 1st point to top of 'Big Step' rock face 50 min; Big Step to summit 32 min. 2 hrs, 27 min.

Just some stuff to consider, this is a wild peak. Bring a whistle to let the animals know you are coming! I usually wear something red or yellow, whether it's a hat or a shirt so the animals can see you.

Someone once told me Goat Mountain is a harder challenge than Bierstadt! Quite the compliment for a little 7er, but dead on right!

Comments or Questions

It got your goat?
02/15/2017 10:13
So - isn't that something like 500 times you've been up Goat?


Way More Than That!
02/15/2017 10:26
I like to suffer, but not that much! Only the 87th time, but maybe 500 bears live in that dark forest waiting to steal your porridge!

Kevin Baker

Hard times in the scrub cave
02/15/2017 20:42
Waterton is Beau's world! Nice work on that scrub bash from hell, Beau! I think you have a sick enjoyment of being in the scrub cave...


What Kevin said...
02/16/2017 07:57
Yeah - I think if you look up "masochist" in the dictionary, Beau's picture is there...


Thanks Guys!
02/16/2017 08:21
I even enjoy repeatedly letting a branch slap me in the face, the sting just makes me feel alive! Thank You, may I have another? I suspect my picture is next to quite a few more choice words in the dictionary, some not in the dictionary!

03/05/2017 22:04
I just did Goat Mtn several weeks ago. Fun hike. Looks like you took it to a whole other level though!


Next Level Stuff
03/06/2017 08:27
The 1st time I did this peak in 2009, I thought it would make a great repeat. Never thought I would do it this many times, but it has so many rock scrambles and climbs just a bit off trail that I couldn't resist coming back time and again. It's a great place close by to get a great workout and hone some skills in the process if you feel so inclined!

Turkshead Peak
01/05/2020 18:47
Just summited Turkshead peak on Saturday, missed the register. You are one of the few people with info on the peaks around waterton. Goat Mountain is also one of my favorites now.
I have been searching for the other peaks which you named by number, 7558 and 8098, with no luck, you haven't made a guide book by chance? At least I think I know which peaks they are based on your trip report, seem like the are on private land? Not that I wouldn't venture but it's good to know.

Here's to hoping you still check this site.


You go Guy!
01/08/2020 11:51
7558 is almost directly south of Goat across the deep gulch and 8098 can be connected via a ridge heading west from 7558. A weird little ridge with a dogleg sorta in the middle but very straight forward. As you ride west into Waterton past the homestead and the big dam, look for Bear Creek coming out of a narrow canyon on the right. A concrete dip in the road is the creek and a picnic table is at the riverside. I usually lock my bike up to the sign next to the table. Walk across the road and climb up the rocks and angle north to a wide slope and pick your way up to the ridge. There will be some scrambling involved so be prepared. Once you get past this rocky narrow ridge, I followed the southslopes below the scrub and eventually you have to get on the ridgeline and fight the scrub to the top. You will go from northside to southside many times on this ridge, linking up game trails and open spaces helps.

Goat is a great hike, glad you feel the same way as I do! You couldn't find the register on Goat or Turkshead?

Never been on Turkshead, you have to send me the details. I've done all the rest of the peaks if you need info.

Warren Peak
01/18/2020 09:14
Just went up to Goat Mountain again, I did see and sign the register. Have you ever been up to Warren Peak? Just north of Goat. I figure you could link the two but wonder about getting on private property.

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