|Typically Open:||05/01 - 12/31|
(EASY - MODERATE)
|Highest Elevation:||11656 feet|
|Duration:||About 1 hour|
|Shape of Trail:||Out & Back|
|Best Direction to Travel:||N/A|
|Nearest Town:||Red River|
|Nearest Town w/ Services:||Red River|
|Official Road Name:||Goose Lake 66/ 486|
|Management Agency:||Carson National Forest|
Goose Lake is the best known trail in the Red River, NM area. The trail can be full of surprises that can take a seemingly easy trail and offer you challenges. Seasonal changes create fun adventures ranging from easy family favorite water crossings to adrenaline junkie snow wheeling. Immediately you are faced with a drive through the river with depths that have ended more than one adventure before it could start. From the river the trail climbs the mountain which leads to a shelf road with plenty of room for one vehicle, but will make for creative parking when you pass opposing traffic. A "cave" and remnants of mining cabins from the late 1800s and smaller water crossings further the adventure. Reaching the crystal clear lake provides photo opportunities as well as fishing, hiking, or primitive camping. Wildlife like Marmots and Rams can often be seen on the ridge surrounding the lake.
Rocky or undulated road surface. Potential rocks and/or tree stumps less than 24" tall and/or vertical ledges less than 24" tall and/or near vertical ledges or waterfalls less than 54" inches. Tire placement becomes more difficult. Can be steep and off-camber.Read more about our rating system
There is a small parking area as you pull in from the highway, approximately 8 cars, or 3 trucks with trailers. Additional Trailer parking is available as pullouts on the highway above, as shown in Photo 1, signage marks how close to highway parking is available. The parking area is available to air down, as well as drying out from the river crossing, as shown in Photo 3. Word of caution to those driving directly from Highway 38 or returning down from the trail, do not attempt to cross the river with hot brake rotors. Stories abound of vehicles that have cracked a rotor or pads due to hitting the ice cold water with the excessive heat that builds up from coming down the Highway 38 decline or riding their brakes coming down the trail, use low gear in your transmission for both scenarios.
The trailhead is the largest obstacle for the late summer and early fall season. Passenger vehicles must cross the river to access the trail, the water is a minimum of 12"deep and can approach 30" in the center of the river. Vehicles need to cross in a U shape away from the bridge to avoid the deepest center, this track will put you closer to the mesh fence with no trespassing warnings, You WANT to be near the fence line before returning towards the trail. The video will detail the path to take, along with a Pinzgauer showing how deep the center can be. The bridge is used for hikers and accessible to UTV and side by sides. With a standard transmission, remember to choose a proper gear and not use your clutch while in the river, stalling or using neutral while in the river may cause problems with the internals of the clutch and starter. DO NOT enter the water with extremely hot brake rotors from the highway decline or returning down the trail, if you can smell your brake pads, take a moment and enjoy the scenery before entering, so that you can enjoy the rest of your trip.
At waypoint 3 is an interesting highlight for the young or young at heart. The remnants of a mining cave, or maybe just someones shelter. The room is only about 8 feet into the mountain and probably 20 feet wide, but offers the chance to tease others about the presence of bears, and during the heat of the day creates a nice air conditioned room.
Through out the trail you can find old cabins, but this point offers the greatest cluster of former homes. Remember to be careful around the old cabins as they are returning to nature, and after every season they become less stable than the year before.
The quadruple junction can seem confusing at first. If you will look for the sign in the tree, as pictured in Photo 1, there is an arrow directing you on to Goose Lake. Also, the trail you are seeking is directly ahead of the trail you have been traveling. At the junction there are three other paths, two are unmarked and the third is FR 486A. FR486A is a tight trail for any fullsize vehicle but will take you less than a mile to another cabin before forcing you back down the trail returning to the junction. At the junction is also the remnants of a former home.
The Triple Junction will require you to take the left trail to continue on your shortest path. All three weave back into the trail within 500 feet, but can leave you with the feeling of being in a maze. The trail marked 171 on the right is marked as No Jeeps further down the trail, so save your gas and avoid it if you don't want to be disappointed.
The only vault toilet on the trail is at the entrance to the destination parking lot. Depending on season, it may or may not be open for business. Parking is spacious with room for 20 or more vehicles.
At the southern most point of the parking area is the the gate to prevent any further motorized activity. It is a short walk to the lake, with hiking paths around the lake, as well as to the top of the surrounding peak. Fishing is a summer option and primitive camping spots are available just below the parking area. On the peak side of the lake, marmots as well as rams can often be spotted. When you are exhausted from the activities or just the altitude, return down the mountain the same way you arrived. Remember, use low gears instead of riding your brakes, it is a steep descent, and you have the ice cold water to cross at the bottom.
Starting Point: Red River
Primitive camping spots are most available near the lake with a vault toilet adjacent the lake parking lot. It is National Forest so dispersed camping is available with many small turnout trails found on the drive up to the lake. The only restriction on camping is the first 1/4 mile of trail which is posted no camping. Carson National Forest also offers 3 campgrounds west of the town of Red River with potable water, they are: Fawn Lakes Junebug Elephant Rock Lodging is available nearby in Red River with hotel rooms or cabin rentals. Multiple RV parks are also available in town.