Goat Peak & Cole Butte BM
Fire Lookouts of Washington
This is a lot of driving on Forest Roads but for now, it is what is required. From I-90 at exit 62 (signed Stampede Pass), drive three miles toward Stampede Pass to FR 41. Turn left, following FR 41 for 10 miles until reaching the junction with FR 4110. After several more miles on 4110, reach the pass that divides the drainages of Log Creek and Big Creek (a 5 way intersection). Take FR 118 climbing 1,200 feet up Cole Butte to the high trailhead for Goat Peak at just over 5,000 feet. This final road, FR 118 has about 20 water bars that will required a high clearance vehicle. It is around 20 miles from I-90.
Hiking in the Cle Elum area, you're bound to ask what a craggy little peak is to the south of Easton. The rocky summit knob isn't the highest point but it is noticeable for miles. A lookout stood at the highest point, which is flat and gentle. Although Goat Peak is right off I-90, getting up it without trespassing on private property has been a problem for years. The legal and most enjoyable route on National Forest land is described below.
Elevation: 5,100 feet
Hiking Distance: 3.5 miles
Elevation Gain: Almost 2,000 feet
Access: High clearance needed for final road
The trail takes a ridge up and down to Goat Peak, with the lookout site at an elevation below the trailhead. The concession is that you nearly summit Cole Butte along the way. Just a few feet above the trail, the Cole Butte Benchmark is a highpoint for the area with a respectable prominence of 1,524 feet. From the trailhead to the summit of Cole Butte is about 1.75 miles and about 500 feet of gain. From there, the trail drops xx feet to a saddle between Cole Butte and Goat Peak. Here at the saddle private property signs mark a cabin visible down below the ridge. This is where the road came to reach the lookout. Now just continue on the ridge up to the lookout site. Most of the route is in trees but there are many openings along the way which allow for good views.
Fire Lookout History
In 1927, preparations were being made for a lookout on Goat Peak. Materials were being brought up, and the following year in 1928 a D-6 cupola cabin was built. In 1960, it was replaced with a 10 foot high treated timber R-6 flat tower. This second lookout was sold
to a local resident who moved it to the Teanaway Valley in 1969. It can be eyed on private property up the Teanaway Valley just off the road on the north side about 4-5 miles from the junction with Highway 97.
The Laurie Contratto family learned the 6 year old lookout on Goat Mountain was to be abandoned. They learned that they could submit a bid to the Forest Service and get a chance at purchasing the lookout. This was a first for the district since they had always just burned them down. A year later, they were informed it was the highest (and only) bid. The Goat Peak Lookout was his but it came with many rigid stipulations for the sale. The lookout would need to be off the peak within three month window, after the spring melt and before the snow started falling. They would also be required to build by hand a steep vehicle trail up the final slope to the lookout from the nearest road that wouldn't leave a scar. Family and friends worked to dismantle the tower piece by piece, hauling it away in pickup trucks, so many loads they lost count. (Kresek)
Looking Southwest 8-13-1934
Looking Southeast 8-13-1934
Looking North 8-13-1934
Many phone insulators along the way (line to Big Creek Lookout)
Thanks RichP of NWHikers.net for use of the 3 images below from a good day on the ridge
Lookout site with footings and the first step of the stairs
Cables at the summit
Guy line anchors
If you see this, you have made the summit of Cole Butte
Cole Butte from the saddle
Goat Peak 1936
Goat Peak 1938 looking North
1930 Goat Peak Outhouse
Goat Peak Cupola
Goat Peak flag and guyline
Above: Trail Map Map on Right: Showing the long driving route to get to the trailhead.
1960 new Goat Peak Lookout under construction