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You'll feel like a mountain goat while bagging this peak!
Overview: This is a fun bushwhack to the volcanic summit of Peak 4968, (aka Goat Peak). The views in this area are awesome throughout, not just on the summit. To top things off, with very favorable topography and numerous other little peaks and rock formations in almost every direction, one can easily extend the distance to double digit mileage or go off on a peak bagging frenzy.
For those wanting the most straightforward route, an ideal starting point is FR44. Simply take I-17 to Exit 259, head East on Bloody Basin Road for about 13.5 miles, and then go left [North] onto FR44. Within 50-100 yards down FR44, there are a couple of small pullouts on the right. The beginning of FR44 is in excellent condition but it gets rough shortly after the parking pullouts.
Hike: On foot, [or in your vehicle if you really want to chance it…], continue down FR44, which heads North and slightly East for about a mile before curving to the right, in a more Eastward direction. Within a half mile or less after FR44 curves East, break left [North] from the jeep road and head up the ridge toward Goat Peak.
As you get closer to the peak, the brush really thins out and the terrain becomes rockier; in fact, the ridge takes on a spine-like appearance. If you thought the scenery was awesome up to this point, the views from the ‘rock-spine’ portion of the ridge take things to a whole new level.
The final ascent is a short segment of pure boulder hopping fun; and, [as is usually the case with volcanic rock], the grip is excellent. The views from the summit are spectacular. There was cairn by the highpoint but I was unable to find a register.
Optional: For those with solid bouldering skills, a fun option for the return trip is as follows: continue across the summit of Goat Peak, heading North; then scramble down a very short section of steep volcanic rock. Once off the short, steep section, stop heading down and start contouring back around; you will soon rejoin your ascent tracks in the area of the lower part of the spine-like ridgeline that took you to the summit of Goat Peak. When I descended the North face of summit, I contoured back around in a clockwise direction; but the topography definitely looks favorable in the counterclockwise direction as well.
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