How bad are the goats in the Enchantment Lakes?

Bottom line: Wild mountain goats live here in large numbers and they’re very accustomed to people. But they rarely threaten people unless threatened themselves.

The goats in the Enchantments are famous. Or infamous? You’ll probably come home from your Enchantments through hike with some great photos of goats and their kids that look like perfect stuffed animals. My photo here was taken in 2022 near the top of Aasgard Pass.

As fluffy and cute as goats can be, adults are solid muscle, weighing as much as 300 pounds. They have sharp pointy horns and they know how to use them. And they’re fast on their feet.

Remember: This is their home. They live here, you’re just visiting. Be respectful.

If you encounter a goat — or a whole family — first of all, give them space. Don’t make any threatening moves. Stay clear of the kids, lest you make the mom defensive.

Goats know how to share the terrain. Yes, on a narrow trail, you might have to backtrack some distance to let the goats pass you safely. You might even have to take a detour or wait them out.

In open terrain, you can easily negotiate a passing with goats. Make eye contact with the adults and face toward them as they or you calmly pass. Stand still if they’re walking by. Walk by them only if they’re standing still and when you can pass without getting close.

That doesn’t mean they’re harmless. Goats have killed hikers (although not in the Enchantments so far).

The story about Robert Boardman, a hiker who was gored to death, took place in 2010 in Olympic National Park, not in the Cascades. That particular goat was known for aggressive behavior. The Park Service relocated the goat to the Enchantments. (Just kidding, they killed it.)

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