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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.
Gold Creek Basin/Lake Mardeen — Jan 18, 2008 — WildCelticRose
Day hike
Issues: Snow on trail
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~ The hills are alive !!! Today was one of those days where one wants to twirl around in a (snowy)...

~

The hills are alive !!!

Today was one of those days where one wants to twirl around in a (snowy) meadow, and sing “The hills are alive with the sound of music” at the top of their lungs.

Unfortunately, (for my friends) I am prone to doing such things, and even worse, have the vocal range to do it; (in my own defense, I also sang, (with accompaniment), “On the road again” and “Hit the road jack”) Actually, we all sang a lot. We couldn’t help ourselves.

Come on… It is after all, the “Issaquah Alps”

It was a glorious, spectacular day with perfect weather (hey, when one is snowshoeing 32 degrees (F) IS perfect) with crisp, fluffy snow.

“The orb” (aka the sun for those who do not live in the Pacific Northwest where we say things like “Oh look! The mountain is out!”, “Hey, there’s a lenticular cloud over the volcano” and the ever popular, “What is that orange ball in the sky? It’s hurting my eyes?”) was shining brightly, the sky was robins egg blue, and the snow had melted off of the road but not out of the trees.

We arrived in the early afternoon (said cute little truck got her new shoes this morning so we didn’t leave Tacoma until 10:30 AM) to perfect conditions.

We headed up the East trailhead (down the road and across the bridge from the groomed trail parking area) and out to Lake Mardeen.

I even made a snow angel (the FIRST one of the season; I guess I’m slacking)

Some idiots who had no clue actually walked out on the lake, which was in no way safe, but luckily, they didn’t fall through the ice; they turned back when they saw the areas that weren’t fully frozen. Dipsticks!!!

Oh yeah, and don’t get me started on the other idiots who left a big dog poop right in the middle of the trail. (these are the kind of people who give responsible dog owners a bad name)

We took lots of piccies and enjoyed the sounds of ravens, ducks and songbirds.

We tromped around for about three hours and then headed back down the road before the roads froze up.

I-5, on Friday evening, on the eve of a three day weekend?

Not so much fun.

But completely worth it!!!

The pictures are available here…

http://www.wildcelticrose.net/lisasplace/goldcreekbasin0108.html

~L

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Gold Creek #830,Lower Gray Wolf River #92 — Mar 10, 2007 — Bob and Barb
Day hike
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We started our hike at the newer TH on the 2870 Road about a mile above the TH described in Robert W...

We started our hike at the newer TH on the 2870 Road about a mile above the TH described in Robert Wood's book.Thanks again to the WTA crew which cleared the trail to the river at about 2 miles and above to a point where there is a MASSIVE dominoe effect blowdown. We were unable to go beyond this point because of the size of the trees and the washed out trail.This was at perhaps .25 miles from the river as you begin going up towards the washed out bridge.We were back at the TH about 1:00 so decided to do part of the Gold Creek Trail.We started at the lower end near the former East Crossing CG. The Dungeness River is beautiful at the beginning of this trail. There's a dandy bridge crossing Gold Creek. It's a fallen log across the creek. Handrails and steps have been added to the fallen tree!We hiked about 2 miles one way.It appeared that the trail had been cleared earlier. 2 trees have fallen since this clearing and they are easily climbed over over.

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Gold Creek #1314 — Jan 01, 2007 — Michael J
Day hike
Issues: Snow on trail
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Wonderful day for snowshoeing up Gold Creek Valley. Although there were twenty or so cars at the tra...

Wonderful day for snowshoeing up Gold Creek Valley. Although there were twenty or so cars at the trailhead, we saw very few people on the trail on our way up. The temps were in the high teens to lower 20's with freezing rain and snow most of the day. The snow base was hard-packed - we didn't need snowshoes unless we ventured off-trail. We found plenty of solitude after the first mile, even though it was a holiday for most. After having a hot lunch of baked lasagna, we explored some of the many recently broken trails before heading back home.

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Gold Creek Pond — Dec 03, 2006 — barleywino
Day hike
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Great snowshoeing conditions. ...

Great snowshoeing conditions.

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Gold Creek Pond,Gold Creek #1314 — Jan 22, 2006 — Michael J
Day hike
Issues: Snow on trail
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Wonderful day for shoeing up the Gold Creek Road. Temps were hovering about 32 degrees and snow was ...

Wonderful day for shoeing up the Gold Creek Road. Temps were hovering about 32 degrees and snow was falling ever so lightly with no breeze. The road itself as well as the many trails around the immediate area did not require snowshoes for walking since the snow was hard-packed. However, snowshoes are required once you get on trail #1314 towards Alaska and Joe Lakes.

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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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