You are here: Home Find a Hike Hiking Guide Lower Gold Creek Basin Snowshoe

Lower Gold Creek Basin Snowshoe

» REI » Amazon

A portion of all book sales from the links above benefits WTA and helps protect and maintain our trails.

Hiking through a wide, level valley in the shadow of looming Kendall Peak to the north and Rampart Ridge to the east would be an ideal outing, if only so many people didn't know about it. Fortunately, a few miles up the trail, the crowds thin--or at least spread out--and snowshoers can get on with the business of learning to travel in a beautiful wilderness valley. That's right, just a few miles after leaving the buzzing Interstate 90 corridor, the Alpine Lakes Wilderness unfolds. By mid-December, the snow is usually deep enough for the outing to be enjoyable, making this a great destination for families who gave each other snowshoes for Christmas.

To get there, from Seattle drive east on I-90 over Snoqualmie Pass to exit 54, 2 miles east of the pass's summit. Exit I-90, turn left, cross under the freeway, and just a few hundred feet north of the highway interchange, turn right onto a narrow paved road and drive east parallel to the freeway for 1 mile. Cars generally line both sides of this road, as the shoulder is the primary parking area for the long Gold Creek Sno-Park. Park at the end of the plowed road, near the small bridge over the stream connecting Mardee Lake to Keechelus Lake.

Start the hike by heading north along a narrow access road (Forest Road 144) on the eastern side of Mardee Lake. The road stays tight to the eastern wall of the valley, but if the snow is deep enough to bury all the ground cover, drop off the road in a few hundred yards--just past Mardee Lake--and snowshoe up the open meadow and through the thin stands of forest. As you hike up the valley, the view of Kendall Peak gets better and better, while on your right, Rampart Ridge rolls majestically along. As the valley tapers in, the meadows give way to wide stands of trees and small forest clearings. The walls close in tighter and tighter on the valley floor, and the views become more dramatic. At about 2.5 miles in, stop and enjoy the scenery and the feeling of power that this winter wilderness emits.

At the northern end of Rampart Ridge is the bulky summit of Alta Mountain; directly opposite is the vertical face of Kendall Peak. The steep walls of these mountains seem to rise from the ground at your feet. Continue to press on up the valley, but only if you know how to evaluate avalanche dangers. Even on the valley floor, hikers are susceptible to avalanches. The mammoth slides can come barreling off the valley walls with enough momentum that they sweep well out onto the basin's floor.

Stroll to your heart's content along the valley floor, then weave your way through the trees back to the starting point for a gentle day on the snow.

Author’s Rating: Easiest to More Difficult
Generally good trails for beginners, with moderate elevation change and minimal avalanche danger.
Driving Directions:

To get there, from Seattle drive east on I-90 over Snoqualmie Pass to exit 54, 2 miles east of the pass's summit. Exit I-90, turn left, cross under the freeway, and just a few hundred feet north of the highway interchange, turn right onto a narrow paved road and drive east parallel to the freeway for 1 mile. Cars generally line both sides of this road, as the shoulder is the primary parking area for the long Gold Creek Sno-Park. Park at the end of the plowed road, near the small bridge over the stream connecting Mardee Lake to Keechelus Lake.

Improve or add to this guidebook entry

Note: the description and driving directions for this Mountaineers Books entry are copyrighted and can't be changed.

Recent Trip Reports

Hiked here recently? Submit a trip report!
There are 38 trip reports for this hike. See all trip reports for this hike.
Lower Gold Creek Basin Snowshoe — Mar 07, 2014 — Amaroq
Day hike
Expand report text Hide report text
Piles of dog poop right on the trail! I know dogs deserve their day in the snow, and I'm happy to sh...
Piles of dog poop right on the trail! I know dogs deserve their day in the snow, and I'm happy to share the trail with them, but having to ski around multiple piles of poop detracted from the enjoyment of the trail. We tried this on Cross-country skis today, but the snow was too mushy and would be better on snow shoes.
Read full report
Lower Gold Creek Basin Snowshoe — Feb 04, 2014 — thebrink
Snowshoe/XC Ski
Expand report text Hide report text
The forecast for the day was to be clear and sunny but it was overcast and with just a bit of snow f...
The forecast for the day was to be clear and sunny but it was overcast and with just a bit of snow falling. The snow on the trail was compacted with just a little give to the surface.

We did the grand tour around the pond in a little wind and a temperature in the low twenties. Most of the pond is frozen over except a few feet along the north shore.
Read full report with photos
Lower Gold Creek Basin Snowshoe — Jan 04, 2014 — jamestm
Day hike
Expand report text Hide report text
No snowshoes necessary here. The trail is lightly covered with hard or icy snow, and even bare in s...
No snowshoes necessary here. The trail is lightly covered with hard or icy snow, and even bare in some places. Still, it's a very pleasant and pretty walk. You can drive right up to the larger parking lot near the lake, passed the normal snowshoeing trailhead.
Read full report with photos
Lower Gold Creek Basin Snowshoe — Mar 23, 2013 — RhondaHikes
Snowshoe/XC Ski
Expand report text Hide report text
What a great day for a snowshoe. Can't believe it is the first weekend of spring. The sun was out ...
What a great day for a snowshoe. Can't believe it is the first weekend of spring. The sun was out and there was fresh snow.

We arrived early, around 10am. There wasn't many people on the trail so it felt like we had the place to ourselves most of the time. Much different when I came here a few years ago and the trail was packed. We only had to deal with one set of snowmobilers which was nice too.

The dogs loved the snow and of the people we did see most of them had dogs too.
Read full report with photos
Lower Gold Creek Basin Snowshoe — Mar 16, 2013 — leinad
Snowshoe/XC Ski
Issues: Snow on trail
Expand report text Hide report text
We picked the right trail for our first time out on snowshoes. The trail was nice, packed down, eas...
We picked the right trail for our first time out on snowshoes. The trail was nice, packed down, easy to follow, and there were very few people out - giving us some solitude to get used to walking around with snowshoes on. Overall it was a rainy, but we did get a short visit from the sun. I would recommend the loop around Gold Creek Pond for any beginners. Can't wait to get out again before all the snow goes away!
Read full report with photos
gold creek damien murphy.jpg
Golden light over Gold Creek. Photo by Damien Murphy,.
WTA worked here!
2011
Location
Gold Creek (#1314)
Snoqualmie Pass -- Snoqualmie Pass
Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, Mount Baker Ranger District
Statistics
Roundtrip 4.0 miles
Elevation Gain 400 ft
Highest Point 3000 ft
Features
Mountain views
User info
Sno-Park pass required
Guidebooks & Maps
Green Trails: Snoqualmie Pass No. 207

Improve or add to this guidebook entry

Note: the description and driving directions for this Mountaineers Books entry are copyrighted and can't be changed.

Map it
Red MarkerLower Gold Creek Basin Snowshoe
47.3895174806 -121.380343437
(47.3895, -121.3803) Open in new window
Document Actions
  • Print this
  • Share
Get the Guidebooks

Mountaineers three booksSelect content from The Mountaineers Books' guidebooks is featured in this Hiking Guide. Sales of the books from this website help protect and maintain trails.

> Shop Now

More hikes » Hike of the Week
Diablo Lake Trail (Apr 17)

Diablo Lake

North Cascades

Follow the Diablo Lake Trail up and across talus slopes on the flanks of Sourdough Mountain to impressive cascading waterfalls and stunning views. This hike in the North Cascades Institute's backyard makes a great option for an early season hike in stunning North Cascades National Park, much of which is inaccessible during the winter and spring.

Get Trail News

Subscribe to our free email newsletter for hiking news, events, gear reviews and more.

What's Happening
Trails and Ales - Spokane 2014 Apr 22, 2014 Meet fellow hikers and raise a glass for trails!
GiveBIG 2014 May 06, 2014 Donate to WTA during The Seattle Foundation's GiveBIG event and grow your impact on trails!
Hiker Potluck in Vancouver May 28, 2014 Come out for an evening of great food, meet other hikers and learn what is happening on trails near you.
More »