How to hike safely around Mountain Goats

The days are getting longer, the snow is melting, wildflowers are blooming. That means it’s time to get out and hike Scotchman Peak!

The iconic ridge that looms over Lake Pend Oreille lends itself to fantastic views and the opportunity to see wild mountain goats in their craggy home.  

While it is tempting to get up close and personal with these herbivorous creatures, it’s important to remember that goats are still wild creatures with sharp horns and tough attitudes.  

…it’s important to remember that goats are still wild creatures with sharp horns and tough attitudes.

Like horses and cows, these ungulates crave salt. They will walk many miles to find it in the wild. On top of Scotchman Peak, they don’t need to travel far, as our backpacks, shirts, and urine all possess the precious mineral. The mountain goats of Scotchman Peak have learned that an easier way to find salt is to lick hikers and their equipment, not to mention the urine left behind on the ground.  

While it can be an amazing feeling to be that close to a wild animal, please remember that it is not only dangerous for you, but also for the goats and future hikers. If a goat becomes a “problem,” it may face the death penalty. Future hikers will be harassed by salt-seeking goats. And as we’ve seen in other busy mountainous places, aggressive goats can lead to trail closures at best and hiker fatalities at worst. 

If a goat becomes a “problem,” it may face the death penalty.

Please remember when hiking in the home of these amazing wild animals – give them space! The recommended safe distance is 100 feet. If mountain goats are approaching you, be loud and intimidating! Maybe even wave your arms and do a little summit dance. Show the goat you’re not an easy target for salt. If you see other hikers getting too close to the goats, politely let them know that they should stay away because these wild animals can be dangerous.  

If you care about keeping mountain goats wild and the Scotchman Peak Trail open, volunteer as a Scotchman Peak Trail Ambassador this summer! As a Trail Ambassador, you get to do a little extra good on your day-hike. You’ll be outfitted with a t-shirt and hat by the Friends of Scotchman Peak Wilderness. As you hike, you’ll chat with fellow hikers about goat etiquette and safety. To become a volunteer Trail Ambassador or learn more about hiking safely in mountain goat territory here.

As a Trail Ambassador, you get to do a little extra good on your day-hike.

Last but not least, when encountering a mountain goat on the Scotchman Peak trail, remember where you are! You’re in their home, not the other way around. 

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