Tricky drive; short hike; spectacular views. Goosenest (8,280 feet) is an extinct (hopefully) shield volcano with a cinder cone on top, resembling a goose’s nest (actually it looks more like an albatross nest, but those aren’t that common in Northern California). It sits just north of Mount Shasta and affords amazing views of the north side of that peak and a 360º view across much of Northern California. The hike to these views is short (3.3 miles total – if you circle the crater) on a well-graded, well-maintained trail plus an obvious use trail. It even has an official trailhead with a sign and an information board. The trick is finding that trailhead, as we would discover as we followed conflicting (and sometimes incorrect) driving directions to (eventually) reach it.
We found several driving directions to the trailhead, only to discover that some were either incorrect or had left out an important detail (or two). Their only point of agreement was: Don’t follow Google Maps into the forest. So we got out our GPS and started driving and mapping. Here are directions based on what we found on the ground.
Coming from the south on Interstate-5, take Exit 747 at Weed and go north on Highway 97 for 19.5 miles to Forest Road (FR) 45N22 on the left. Coming from the north on Interstate-5, take Exit 766 at Grenada and go southeast on Country Road A12 for 18 miles to Highway 97. Turn left (north) on Highway 97 and go 7.3 miles to FR 45N22. This forest road is signed but not on Highway 97, so it’s easy to miss. It’s after the Vista Point but just before the Grass Lake Guard Station.
Follow FR 45N22 (there are several side roads along it but 45N22 is always the most tracked and most obvious), past the signed turn-off to the Herd Peak Lookout, for 6.5 miles to a junction with FR 45N30 on the left. At present, there’s a small hiker sign at this junction that says “6.5 Miles.” Turn left (north) on FR 45N30 for 2 miles to a cinder pit. What’s known as the “Bob Rath Road Trail” starts from here and climbs the south side of Goosenest. This is not the trail you seek. Make a hard right at the cinder pit and go another 1.5 miles to an unsigned junction with FR 45N72Y. Turn left (west) on to 45N72Y and go 0.6 miles to the official Goosenest trailhead. For a slightly less steep and bumpy, but longer, approach, you can go 0.5 miles past the the 45N22/45N30 junction to an unsigned junction on the left that is the southern end of FR 45N72Y. Turn left here, follow the most obvious and well-used road, and go 4.2 miles to the official trailhead. All the roads we were on were passable to 2WD sedans – if you drive carefully in a few places. Previous reports indicated there was brush along these roads that could scratch your car but we didn’t encounter any.
From the trailhead, the hike up to and around the crater is 3.3 miles, with 1,000 feet of elevation gain. The official trail ends at a wooden post the crater’s western lip, 1.3 miles from the trailhead. From here, an obvious use trail (possibly the remains of Bob Rath’s road) goes 0.5 miles up the southern rim of the crater to the summit. A fainter use trail goes 0.5 miles down the crater’s northern rim back to the main trail – allowing you to circle the nest. The views start along the official trail and just get bigger and bigger – particularly after you reach the lip of the crater.