A trail ascending from the Methow valley floor towards Goat Wall, Spokane Gulch is a local favorite. Trails and roads continue on up to Flagg Mountain to the south or Goat Peak's lookout 4000 feet above the valley floor. From a historian’s perspective, there is much to see along this trail. The modern day hiker will enjoy its diverse geology, seasonal changes, and wide-open views of the Upper Methow Valley. Open to hiking year-round makes viewing seasonal changes a real joy.
The first half mile of trail cuts across the meadow east of Mazama’s center. The recently improved Corral Parking area is your trailhead. There are privies available here. Hike towards the base of the mountain housing the fire lookout atop Goat Peak. After a half mile, cross a dirt road and enter the woods. At the roads’ edge you will find signs for Spokane Gulch’s old trailhead. Entering the woods, the trail winds up, down, and around through small talus slopes, cliff bands, and occasional dry drainages.
The first non-native users of this hillside were likely miners, and lining this route are remnants of those years gone by. A sharp eye reveals adits and prospects at several locations. The miners’ dreams of riches never materialized here nor at most of the areas’ mines. By the mid 1920s the US Forest Service was busy putting fire lookouts atop every viable highpoint throughout the west. Goat Peak, high above your head, got its first lookout in 1924. Access to the lookout back then, was the trail you're on, but today, this lookout is best reached via the Goat Peak Lookout Trail.
The Spokane Gulch Trail today gains roughly 1100 feet in two miles (though most of that gain is in just one mile). At 3100 feet of elevation, the trail turns abruptly to the left (signed) onto an old logging road. From here the views improve, offering continuous sights of the Methow Valley, the eastern North Cascades, and the Paysaten Wilderness.
At about two miles you will reach the end of the established trail. Dubbed by locals Sagebrush Flats, the climate in this landscape creates a mixed sagebrush steppe. Springtime brings flowers, and summertime the fragrance of sage. In wintertime, though the route is under snow, the trail is frequently broken to this point.
WTA Pro Tip: When you return to the trail head, remain parked there and walk over to the Mazama Store. Baked goods or a frosty pint enjoyed in their airy courtyard is hard to beat. If you’re looking for car camping there are two nearby state parks, and many national forest campgrounds as well.