3 years, 3500 miles of Goatbells hikes & rambles

To start planning 2024 hikes and rambles, a look-back from 2021 to EOY 2023 over the Goatbells miles traveled and associated blog posts . Over backpacking trips, day hikes and urban hikes (defined here) 3,486 miles traveled across 190+ recorded tracks (GaiaGPS), mostly in Oregon.

Goatbells’ Oregon Hiking Trip Report was updated with all 2023 major hikes and associated posts.

How was hiking in 2023?

2023 was set up to be different kind of hiking year with a major family event in Mid-August, removing all hiking most of July and August. As a result, backpacking miles were fewer, day hikes more frequent, and many close-in hikes with less than 1 hour total driving. The 2023 winter’s snowpack also ran deeper and lasted longer than any recent year – made pre-July PCT hiking even in Northern CA impractical. Shoulder season backpacking while wonderfully less crowded, can have challenging conditions in both spring and fall.

Given the snowpack and the shoulder-season focus in 2023, different areas east and south the central cascades and the central cascade rivers were new in 2023. With expectations set accordingly, these lower elevation routes were spectacular.

Favorite new hikes in 2023

Ochoco Mountains – Lookout Mountain and its wild horses are a ‘must do’ hikeWild Horses of Ochocos
Southern OR PCT – Soda Mountain Wilderness – a gem tucked within mostly developed So ORsoda mt landscape
McKenzie River Trail – nothing strenuous, just beautiful old forests along the river (Middle, Lower, Clearlake)Clearlake
PCT: Mt Jefferson Pamelia Lake to Oallalie Lake – Jefferson Park not to be missedmt Jefferson

Revisiting favorite spots

Some old favorite areas get visited almost every year, but ideally from different routes and creating new experiences. Several days on the west side of Mt. Hood and likewise several days at Diamond Lake were perfect examples of seeing an old favorite differently.

PCT: OR Coverage

With the 2023 hikes, PCT coverage in OR is mostly completed. There are several sections that will be ignored – just too hard to get to and nothing ‘new’, and a couple of sections that will be targeted in 2024. All OR PCT miles have been walked both NOBO and SOBO. There is very little of OR’s Cascade Mountain Spine along the PCT that I have not seen. PCT 3 year update post.


At the close of every year, I try to inventory my gear kit (2022, 2023)- what worked out, what did not work, what was never used, etc … I made a few changes – sleeping bag, fast hike pack, and both warm and wind jackets. Shoes were another challenge as Topo Athletic shoes failed to last. Saucony shoes were too narrow late summer. Altra boots and trail runners are the go-to now. Gear for backpacking and day hiking pretty much set for 2024.

Key Learnings

  • Backpackers, thru hikers, and most hikers in general are some of the nicest people around …
  • OR forests are burnt – very little between Mt Hood and Crater Lake has not burnt in the last 20 years
  • Never under estimate the power of Mother Nature – alpine weather is to be respected 365 days of the year
  • Find your bliss – and enjoy it! (hike your hike when, where and how you want to … as safely as possible) … just get out in the woods.

Into the woods I go, to lose my mind and find my soul. – J Muir

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