Conquering the Iron Goat Trail

Do you believe in ghosts? I do. Though, I’m not the type to go seeking them out on purpose. And as far as believing a hike could be haunted? For me, that is a stretch. Though I will use any excuse — even ghost hunting — if it means a walk in the woods.

The text from my friend Heidi read, “Have you ever done the Iron Goat Trail? It’s supposedly haunted, so I thought what a perfect hike for this time of year.” Who isn’t in the mood for a little supernatural thrill when October rolls around? Plus, I can’t count how many times I’ve passed the Iron Goat Trail on Highway 2 and thought, “I really need to check that out.” So after painting a Jack-o-lantern on my orange beanie, I was all set to enjoy a beautiful autumn day with Heidi — and any other spirits who decided to show up.

trail

Hiking the Iron Goat Trail

I don’t want to spoil the fun by telling you all the history behind the Iron Goat Trail. Stopping along the way to read the informative signs is a big part of what makes this hike so special. This is why I was glad we chose to start at the Martin Creek parking lot and work our way to the bigger interpretive site. Our curiosity kept building while the story slowly unfolded as we went along. 

After an easy three miles of walking, you’ll reach the red caboose in the Iron Goat Interpretive Site lot you can find directly off of Highway 2 — along with all the answers you’ve been waiting for. Though (spoiler alert) you won’t find the site of the train disaster where 96 lives were lost. For that, you will need to continue to the upper trail and turn right for another three miles to the Wellington “ghost town.” FYI, there is no town. I mean NO town — like not even one creepy abandoned building.

tunnel

We were feeling too lazy for those extra miles, but really wanted to see if we could actually connect with the dead, so we drove there instead. Taking the easy way back to the car (the same way we came) we skipped the upper trail back to complete the loop. I’ve read there are more remnants of old snow shed tunnels up there too, so if you want the full experience, you need to be less lethargic than us.

Wellington Ghost Town

We, on the other hand, chose to drive the six miles east on Highway 2 to Tye Road, where another three miles of rough road takes you directly to Wellington. From there, the exact spot where the avalanche took the lives of so many back in 1910 is only a few steps away. 

We stood at the memorial reading the names of the lives lost while listening to the soothing sound of water rushing down over the tunnel’s roof. The sun hitting the lovely waterfall created a beautiful rainbow. No spooky ghosts whatsoever. We both decided if any spirits were surrounding us, they were at peace. So we ended our splendid fall hike feeling haunted only by the beauty and history that we are so lucky to experience in our uniquely captivating Pacific Northwest. 

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Kelly Beane

Kelly Beane is an avid Northwest hiker, albeit a slow one. She has done multiple sections of the PCT, and plans to finish the last 240 miles in Washington this summer. At 50 she completed her goal of hiking 500 miles of the Appalachian Trail, and her book about it can be found on Amazon. Her latest adventures can be found on her hiking website, slowesthiker.com

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