We decided to take a midweek adventure and hike the Iron Goat Trail near Stevens Pass, WA. There are two trailheads for this hike one at milepost 55 and near the summit off the Old Cascades Highway. It was midweek and the trailhead was empty except for two bears about a quarter mile from the trailhead that we met on the road. This made me a little hesitant to be out hiking in the evening hours. In the end we only did two miles of hiking. Better safe than sorry with two adult bears in the area. Washington bears are shy and will generally flee as soon as they hear you or catch your scent, but always be careful. My sister hikes with a bell to let bears know she’s in the area. I use hiking poles, they make plenty of noise.
We could talk about bears and bear etiquette all day long, but lets get back to the Iron Goat Trail and all it has to offer. This trail takes you past what was once the railroad town of Wellington (founded in 1893) and the site of the Wellington train disaster. This disaster was caused by an avalanche that occurred on March 1, 1910. Both a mail train & a passenger train became trapped in a spring snow storm at the Wellington train depot near Stevens Pass in the nine days prior to the day of the fateful avalanche. The snow had been falling up to a foot an hour when a warm front moved in and caused a thunderstorm. Just after midnight the mountain gave way to an avalanche that toppled train cars like toys. The cars were thrown nearly a thousand feet into a gully and buried by more than forty feet of snow. The townspeople of Wellington would spend the next several days working around the clock to search for survivors.
When everyone was finally accounted for 96 people were found dead and only 23 survived. After the disaster the railroad built the concrete train tunnel or snow sheds as they are called. They also renamed Wellington due to the negative association to the disaster and it was henceforth known as the town of Tye. In 1929 a second train tunnel was built and the small town became a ghost town.
The trailhead has many informative plaques that tell you about the history of Wellington and photos as well. You will also find some picnic spots and rustic restrooms. Please be careful to carry all of your refuse out. Don’t leave behind treats for the wildlife. This encourages bears and other wildlife to get too close to humans.
The Wellington site is an eerie place to visit. You start your hike traveling over a half mile in the concrete snow shed. It echos and has long white stalagmites hanging from the ceiling. It’s considered by many to be one of the most haunted places in Washington State.
About midway through the tunnel you will find a small lookout spot where you can view the ravine that the train cars were drug into. Once you pass through the tunnel the trail continues to follow the old railroad grade. There is an abundance of indigenous wild flowers on this part of the trail.
This is one of those trails you definitely want to bring a flashlight on. Their are numerous train tunnels and even an old mine. Most of the tunnels are caved in and are unsafe to enter.
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Trail is 5.5 miles in length and is welcoming to both kids and dogs. Visit our adventure map to find an adventure near you.