Goat Mountain (7,797′) Attempt | Waterton Canyon Recreation Area
Littleton, CO | 06/09/19 | 7.40 miles | 1,595′ gain
I hate Goat Mountain.
I say I hate it, and yet something keeps pulling me back.
On paper, the hike doesn’t seem terribly difficult (and in reality it isn’t either) but every time I’ve tried to climb this mountain, I’ve had to turn around. The first time, Kyle and I made it to the final false summit, thinking it was the actual summit. (Goat Mountain’s false summits are so prominent they look like separate mountains.) The actual summit seemed SO far away. It was getting late and we were getting tired, so we decided to turn around. The second time, I went solo. Shortly after I climbed up the first ridge, I saw a fresh mountain lion track and felt eyes on me. I continued on, despite my fears, but it had rained the day before and the scrub oak retained all of that moisture, soaking my legs and causing me to be way too cold for comfort. I turned around a little more than halfway in, disappointed that I wouldn’t make it once again, but sick of being wet, cold, and terrified of mountain lions.
This time, we weren’t tired. We were wet because of course the scrub oak was soaked again, but we weren’t cold. There were no mountain lions. We could have continued, but I had to be somewhere by 1pm and we just simply didn’t give ourselves enough time.
The Goat has bested me yet again. And so I keep going back. One day I’ll get the Goat.
The Goat Mountain Trail starts at the mouth of Waterton Canyon (which is also the start of the Colorado Trail). It follows a dirt road for about a mile, then turns off at a set of large pipes over the road and heads up an old sheep trail out of the canyon. The Waterton Canyon area is extremely popular for all types of recreation, but very few people know about the Goat Mountain Trail (as it’s totally unmarked) and it’s very common to be completely alone once out of the canyon.
The dirt road up Waterton Canyon is privately managed by Denver Water and is only accessible by foot or bike. The only vehicles you’ll have to dodge are the few who are lucky enough to live up the canyon, or the occasional Denver Water employee going to check on something. The road walk was flat and uneventful but went by fast. My friend Tori and I never run out of things to talk about.
Soon enough we reached the pipes. We turned right in between the two overhead pipes and headed up a faint trail. Tori asked, “There’s a trail here?” Don’t worry, I might have been here a time or two…
Once you find the trail, it’s actually pretty obvious. Almost immediately you head straight up a slope filled with scree and loose dirt. Not the easiest to traverse (and I never fail to fall on the way down). From there you have to climb up out of the canyon and onto the main ridge.
Goat Mountain always looks so far away. We’d already walked a mile down the road, and now you want me to walk all the way over there? WHAT!? AllTrails will convince you that this hike should only be 7.5 miles, but that is just incorrect. As soon as I summit, I’ll give you my mileage, but for now I can only guess 8.5-9.0 miles.
It’d been a while since Tori’d been hiking, so we took extra time to admire views, look at the beautiful wildflowers, etc. Purple and yellow were the colors of the day.
The sneak peeks of Goat Mountain were taunting us as we ascended the ridge and followed it up and down, up and down, over the numerous bumps along the way.
All of a sudden, we heard voices. We stopped to try to figure out where they were coming from. Ahead of us somewhere? Is the Goat playing tricks on us? I wouldn’t put it past her… After a few minutes of confusion, two ladies came into view.
The girls passed us and we said our hellos. After they were out of earshot, we discussed. “Do you think they summited?” “No, they look too happy.” “And they’re not very wet!” By this time, we’d reached the thickest section of scrub oak we’d encountered so far. The leaves were dripping with water, so much so that it seemed no one had come through. The earlier sections had had water shaken off the leaves already.
I could feel water pouring into my shoes as I pushed through the brush. My shoes squelched and slopped around. I took one off to watch the water pour out…but nothing happened. Disappointing. Tori tried to make me feel better by telling me my socks were dripping. It didn’t work, I wanted a flood of water to escape my shoes. I hate Goat Mountain.
We made it to a false summit. I think only one or two left between us and the Goat. But it was already 10am. How long would it take to walk back out and descend the scree? How long of a drive to where I needed to be at 1pm? Sigh. I hate Goat Mountain.
We had a snack, staring longingly towards the Goat. Will she ever let me see her? Today was not the day. We still had nearly a half mile to go, and we were almost 4 miles in. How long would it take to climb the final few false summits? Too long. I’d never get back in time. We made the decision to turn around. I raised my arms and yelled at the mountain. Damn you Goat. One day I’ll get you.