Goodspeed-Nattkemper Trail to Mount Hood Peak is a 6.2 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Kenwood, California that features a river and is only recommended for very experienced adventurers. The trail is primarily used for hiking, trail running, nature trips, and birding and is accessible year-round.
Frankly difficult trail but amazing valley and hillside views. Weekend hiker take note -- some parts of the trail are tough and this earned its "hard" rating.
View at the very top a non existent, unless you're standing on a rock by the side of the plateau.
The views further down are phenomenal, and you can see all the way down the valley to SF.
There are sections with loose rocks in the trail so wear decent shoes.
It's an out and back trail, and the descent from the summit isn't easy!
It's easy, then hard, then harder, then not to bad, and then view...
There were bees at gunsight rock when we went. We were able to stay long enough for a few photos and then had to get out of there. I am happy to hear they may be gone now... Best hike in the county for sure!
Entrance fee is $8, you pay in the way of a permit containing the money, your license plate, and your name. Parking hours are 6 AM-8 PM for Sugarloaf Ridge State Park.
This hike was amazing, even with its views entirely covered by fog. Including the traverse to Gunsight Rock, the trail is 7.0-7.5 miles with ~2,300 feet of elevation gain, most of which occurs over a 2.5 mile stretch. The trail starts out relatively easy, with little elevation gain and a wide trail. You'll eventually get up to a second road. That's where the fun begins.
After a set of descending switchbacks, you'll encounter a second river (95% dry at this point) and begin your elevation gain. It'll start out easy-moderate until you get to the Nattkemper Bench, which marks your exit from Sugarloaf Park and entrance into Hood Mountain Regional Park. From there, I'd recommend hiking shoes. The trail is rocky, narrow, sometimes steep and on a ridge.
The climb up to the saddle before Gunsight Rock is strenuous and tiresome. It's best done in the early morning so the fog reduces the temperatures. There are plenty switchbacks and exposed rocks after the Nattkemper bench; watch your footing, as the trail is almost always narrow and on a steep ridge.
The final climb up to Gunsight Rock is calf-burning, albeit short. It passes through a wildlife-enchanted (deer, mainly) forest that will make you feel miles away from civilization. At the end of this strenuous gain, you'll have the option to either go to Gunsight Rock or summit Mount Hood.
My father and I went up to Mount Hood Summit, which is an exposed area of rock (50 ft. diameter) with a plaque marking the summit. It's encircled by trees and vegetation. There's only one spot where you can get a solid view; I wouldn't stay at this summit for long unless you're eating lunch. Head down to Gunsight Rock for the views.
Also, if you're prioritizing the views over the workout this trail offers, try to hit the trail at ~10:30 AM to allow the fog to dissipate. I summited at about 9:30, and the entire valley below was covered in a thick blanket of fog. The downside to leaving later, however, is hotter temperatures and increased activity on the trail. We saw 0 hikers going up and 8-10 heading down (4-5 groups of hikers.)
Overall, this trail is the best you'll find in Sonoma. It's worth a 2-3 hour drive from wherever you are. Watch out for wildlife: we saw a snake, two lizards, and too many deer to count. I'd imagine you'd see birds in the afternoon as the visibility increases.
And if you're wondering, the 100s of yellowjackets mentioned in the review below aren't there anymore. The summit is safe.
To whoever left a ton of food sitting at the top, thereby attracting 100s of bees, I will find you, and when I do, I will fill a mason jar with bees, shove it inside of you, and twist.
Goodspeed trail to Gunsight Rock is by far my favorite hike around Sonoma Valley. Takes about 3hours round trip. Just strenuous enough, and awesome views from the top. I believe dogs are allowed, but I leave mine at home since you do need to high step over some sharp rocks in the second half of the incline.
Don't bother going to mt hood summit nothing to see, stop at gunsight rock for the views