Goose Lake


Forest Service Trail #414

Why? Waterfalls, superb meadow, and a great lake for moose.

Season: July through September

Ease: Moderate to difficult. It’s 5 ½ miles and just shy of 1,500 feet up to the Lake.

Don’t expect to see a goose at Goose Lake. Expect to see moose instead. In fact, I’m convinced that the lake was misnamed, or maybe not and the problem was just a typo. Whatever else it is or isn’t, Goose Lake is a great place to see moose.

I’m a sucker for those gangly ungulates. When we backpacked to Goose Lake, I saw more of them over two days than I usually see in a year. There were moose in the lake in the evening, when some of the other hikers wanted to swim – but didn’t. There were three moose in the moonlight in the field of asters we were camped in, and there were noisy moose in the lake at night. There were moose in the lake in the morning, too. Great place, Goose Lake.

There are two routes to the lake: via the Stateline Trail or via the trail up Goose Creek. And I’ve actually managed to miss it once from each direction.
Hiking up Goose Creek is, arguably, easier. It starts wide, as an old road, and forks in an opening about 1 mile in. The left goes across the creek and beyond, the right is the right fork to take to reach the lake via trail #414.

The trail stays in the woods as it climbs up alongside Goose Creek on its way to one of my favorite hiking destinations, a spectacular open meadow about 1 mile shy of the lake. There are several stream crossings along it that vary from inconsequential to interesting. Steep Creek has a nice waterfall, and the only steep part of the trail is soon after its crossing. Waterfalls on Goose Creek are visible, too, as well as views back down the valley from near the Steep Creek crossing.

You’ll know when you reach the meadow because it’s too huge to miss. The first time I visited it was bright green under a bit of fog, with small groupings of dark evergreens scattered here and there. There were no animals visible, though I’m sure there would be at either end of the day, not noon when I arrived. It’s too perfect a spot not to have them.
The trail crosses the creek at the end of the meadow and heads gently uphill until a short drop down to the lake.

Trail Notes: The old road the trail starts on is labeled #5450, and the actual trail sign is about 150 yard up that road.

The map shows the trail crossing the stream in the large meadow. There is a faint trail to the left in the meadow itself, but dies out soon after. Don’t worry, the actual crossing and continuation of the trail to the lake comes farther in.

Directions: Turn left on Highway 11 off of Highway 12 at Greer, just past milepost 51. Turn right on French Mountain Road just before mile marker 29. The North Fork is 30 miles later. Turn right, travel 18.8 miles to the Kelly Forks Work Center and turn left to stay along the North Fork on Road 250. Turn right on Road 295 about 18 to 19 miles later. When that road forks, take the left to the Goose Lake trailhead about 1 mile later.

Information: North Fork Ranger District, CWNF, (208) 476-4541

Map: USGS Straight Peak, Idaho, has all but the first mile or so. That mile or so is in Bruin Hill, Idaho.

Connections: This trail connects with the Stateline Trail (Bitterroot Divide Trail) at Goose Lake. A long, through day hike that’s well worth doing starts at Hoodoo Pass, travels the divide trail to Goose Lake, and ends at the Goose Lake Trailhead. It would also make a fine two-day trip with a night spent at the lake.