Mt. Gould is on the Sierra Peaks Section (SPS) List. It was originally named University Peak by Joseph N. LeConte, whose party (including Hubert P. Dyer, Fred S. Pheby, and C. B. Lakeman) claimed the first ascent in 1890. Mr. LeConte was honoring the University of California, where he was professor of geology, natural history and botany. Six years later, LeConte changed his mind and transferred the name to the present University Peak after claiming the first ascent there (along with Helen Gompertz and Belle and Estelle Miller). On the following day he reclimbed today’s Mt. Gould and renamed the peak for his companion, Wilson S. Gould.
The peak is located in the Eastern Sierra just north of Kearsarge Pass, west of Independence, California. It is easily accessible from Onion Valley, and makes for an easy dayhike. Most hikers approach Mt. Gould via the Kearsarge Pass Trail, which extends 5.5 miles from Onion Valley to Kearsarge Pass (11,760 feet). The trail passes Gilbert Lake, Flower Lake, Heart Lake and Big Pothole Lake. From the pass the route is a simple cross-country jaunt of about 0.6 miles to the north, class 2 until the class 3 summit block is reached. Notable area peaks visible from the summit include Mt. Clarence King, Mt. Cotter, University Peak, Dragon Peak and Kearsarge Peak. Mt. Gould can also be approached from the Golden Trout Lakes Basin, and via a traverse from Dragon Peak.
It’s an easy 13er. This should appeal to someone who has never climbed above 13,000 feet, or someone who wants to acclimatize to 13,000 feet in a relatively easy, accessible way.
There are pretty lakes along the Kearsarge Pass Trail, and beautiful scenery from Kearsarge Pass and from the summit of Mt. Gould.
It’s not just a boring walk-up; it has a class 3 summit block. The climbing takes just a few minutes, though, so it’s a good introduction to class 3 summit blocks for a newbie.
It's also a good introduction to cross-country scrambling for a novice, as the scrambling is not difficult or long. It includes a fun, time-saving scree descent down Mt. Gould's southeast slopes back to the trail.
Turn west from Main Street (Hwy 395) in Independence, California onto paved Onion Valley Road, and take Onion Valley Road all the way to its end (about 14 miles from Independence). There is ample space for parking in the vicinity of the Kearsarge Pass trailhead.
No permit is required for day hiking Mt. Gould, but overnight trips do require permits throughout the year.
Onion Valley Road, the road to the Kearsarge Pass trailhead, is not plowed in winter. Most visitors to the area come in late spring through early fall.
There is a campground at the end of the road on the south side of Onion Valley at about 9,200 feet. Wilderness permits for backcountry camping can also be obtained. Gilbert Lake and Flower Lake provide pleasant camping options along the south side of the Kearsarge Pass Trail.