Goose Lake, WA
Getting There: Map and Directions — About 1 and 3/4 hr from Portland
Crowds: Weekdays are light during the Summer, but expect every campsite to be full on the weekends. The lake is large enough to provide ample space for solitude any given day of the week.
Camping: Sites, fees and info—Excellent tent camping with views of the lake and easy access to the shore. Sites are up on the hillside above the road, but close enough that you feel shoreside. 18 walk-in primitive sites, $10 fee per site. Vault toilets nearby. Bring your own water!
Eats and supplies nearby: Your best bet is Carson, WA, about 45 min. south, but conveniently on your way to the lake if you’re traveling from Portland or other southerly towns.
What a lake! We wanted a new experience to add to our camping routine, and Goose Lake seemed like the perfect spot. Located in the Gifford Pinchot wilderness of Washington, it is both an easy drive from Portland yet far enough into the wilderness that you feel secluded and immersed in natural wonder.
Goose Lake is an odd duck, so to speak. Formed by a lava flow from Big Lava Bed that dammed a nearby creek, the fifty-eight acre lake is punctuated by several gnarled and haunting tree stumps that stand like sentinels.
You can easily launch your board from the boat launch, which is located to the left as you turn onto the lake road that runs by the campsites. There is a parking lot there for day use visitors.
As you paddle around this mysterious lake, keep your eye out for bald eagles and other birds of prey. We spotted at least four eagles swooping for fish and perching in fir trees surrounding the lake.
One of the ongoing mysteries of Goose Lake is the discovery of a pair of hand and footprints embedded in the lava discovered back in the 1930’s. At that time in the lake’s history, it would drain out every Summer through an opening in the lava, thus the lake’s bottom could be explored and the prints were discovered. The forest service plugged up the hole and the location of the prints was lost, until a very determined individual snorkeled around enough until he found them. He made a cast of the prints and they can now be viewed at the Trout Lake ranger station. It is estimated that the prints were made 2000 years ago or longer! Weird stuff!
Goose Lake is a strange and lovely little lake, with plenty of paddling to be enjoyed and swimming if you are so inclined. Highly recommended and worth a visit!