National Forest, Washington
The Iron Goat Trail follows the abandoned Great Northern Railway with easy grades, accessible trails, beautiful views of surrounding mountains, educational interpretive signs and comfortable trailside benches. The Great Northern route was the best engineered of the transcontinental railways. The original route over the pass consisted of an intricate set of switchbacks cut into the mountainside. The railroad reached Seattle in 1893 and that same year the Great Northern built its first snowshed with several more added for safety for the trains often stopped for days in winter storms. Twelve miles of switchbacks were ultimately bypassed with completion of the Cascade Tunnel in 1900.
The project employed nearly 800 workers, mostly immigrants, including many Japanese. The trail includes Wellington, where a bunkhouse and station once stood, serving as living and working quarters for these early Japanese American laborers.
Walk among preserved historic structures along the Great Northern Railway helped built by Japanese American railway workers.
Highlights: A main trailhead lies at the Iron Goat Interpretive Site at Scenic, with extensive historical interpretive displays and additional signs along the trail to Martin Creek or Windy Point. Learn how the intercontinental Great Northern Railway became a pioneering force through this region of the Cascades. Different hiking options are available at each trailhead to accommodate hikers of all abilities. The distance to the Martin Creek trailhead on the barrier-free and wheelchair-accessible easy lower grade switchback is 2.8 miles. Or, for a challenging uphill climb, follow the Windy Point crossover trail to the Windy Point overlook for a great view of the western portal of the 8-mile long Cascade Tunnel. There is also a 3-mile barrier-free section of moderate difficulty from Wellington to the Windy Point Tunnel. Travel 9 miles through a lovely forest of ferns, alders and evergreens from the Iron Goat Interpretive Site at Scenic to the Wellington townsite and trailhead. The trail is barrier-free from the interpretive site to Martin Creek and from Wellington to Windy Point, a total of nearly 6 miles.