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Lower Gold Creek Basin Snowshoe

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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.

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

Recent Trip Reports

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There are 38 trip reports for this hike. See all trip reports for this hike.
Lower Gold Creek Basin Snowshoe — Feb 21, 2011 — The H crew
Snowshoe/XC Ski
Issues: Snow on trail
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Great beginner snowshoe hike. We started out about 10:30 am. Snow was compact at the beginning of ou...
Great beginner snowshoe hike. We started out about 10:30 am. Snow was compact at the beginning of our day but the snow was falling and we ended with a nice fresh layer.It wasn't as crowded as we expected but it was clearly a favorite spot. At about 1.7 mi. we stopped and walked around Heli's pond, definitely worth doing. At about 2.5 mi you come to a beautiful meadow just perfect for a lunch stop. Because of time constraints this was our turn around point. However, if someone had the time it would be fun to explore up the valley farther.....Another important detail...you must purchase a sno-park pass. This would be great for kids as well , as we saw many having a great time.
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Lower Gold Creek Basin Snowshoe — Feb 18, 2011 — simba
Snowshoe/XC Ski
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Sunny clear day and no snow on the road. Brought snowshoes but did not need them on the hard packed ...
Sunny clear day and no snow on the road. Brought snowshoes but did not need them on the hard packed trail. Only ran into about four or five parties of people. Poles were handy for some icy spots down the trail past the avalanche chute. Some small creeks are trickling and the snow bridges over them are either gone or fast disappearing but they were not difficult to cross. Bare gound is showing near the trail in some spots as well as surrounding crags. Trekked to the creek log crossing. Tempted to cross to the nice sunny spots on the other side but decided not to as to get to the log bridge was a little icy and possibly slipping into the cold running creek did not seem too appealing. Plus, there were plenty of other sunny spots to enjoy.
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Lower Gold Creek Basin Snowshoe — Feb 05, 2011 — snow Cat
Day hike
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Saturday morning solitude at Gold Creek was a surprise. We'd chosen this trail, having noticed crow...
Saturday morning solitude at Gold Creek was a surprise. We'd chosen this trail, having noticed crowds here on a previous sunny Saturday. For this rainy, warm day, we wanted, and got, a gentle grade on groomed trail, with minimal avalanche danger. Though there were a few bare patches and stream crossings, the trail was good, and the creek and basin beautiful. The rain stopped, and the sky even showed some blue. During the first mile, passing through a community of cryptic cabins, it is easy to imagine a vacation or residence here, but we saw no inhabitants.

We did see bobcat tracks, and bone-filled scat, plus the usual ubiquitous snowshoe hare tracks. (also an abundance of domestic canine droppings) By noon, people were arriving, but we were happy with our wonderful morning, even as we drove back down into the rain.
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Lower Gold Creek Basin Snowshoe — Jan 10, 2011 — Turk
Day hike
Issues: Snow on trail
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We had a real good snowshoe trip this time on Gold Creek Trail. Went there about a month ago and the...
We had a real good snowshoe trip this time on Gold Creek Trail. Went there about a month ago and the trail was shorter. We couldn't get to the bridge because of the fallen trees and there weren't any trails. Since we have never been there we didn't risk it and turned around. But this time there was a trail to follow and we passed the bridge. After the bridge we did our own tracks about a mile. We climbed away from the creek and went little higher. It was fun doing some backcountry snowshoeing after walking the trail. Didn't see any hazard on the trail. Since it was a Monday we saw only 4 or 5 people besides us which made it better:)
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Lower Gold Creek Basin Snowshoe, Snowshed Head — Nov 30, 2010 — Type E
Day hike
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Another big powder day: http://alpinelakesaficionado.blogspot.com/2010/11/snoiwshed-butte-3798-...
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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

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

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