Rampart Ridge- Back Door, Gold Lake
Aug 10, 2012
There are a couple of ways over the ridge, and I took different routes coming and going. Both involved following gullies, one with thin snow bridges and running water, the other dry but choked with trees and avalanche debris. Both were very steep but not overly perilous.
Gold Lake doesn't look like it gets too many visitors, but you can see evidence of campsites here and there. There isn't much in the way of a view from the lake, except for the cliffs of Rampart Ridge, which you can see if you go around to the outlet. At the outlet, you get a little window down the South Fork Snoqualmie Valley and a remarkably nice view of McClellan Butte, which seems odd as it is a long way from there. There are some good views of Kendall Peaks, Hibox Mtn and Snoqualmie Mtn from the top of the ridge between the lakes.
One thing I did not expect was that you can't see Gold Lake until you are right on top of it. It is completely obscured by trees all the way down the ridge. I was expecting to do more of a visual navigation, so I was glad to have downloaded a map to my phone.
Gold Lake was a pleasant destination, one that I will probably not return to because there really isn't much to see there. What I did see that I want to investigate further is the area to the Southwest of the lake, and west of Lake Lillian, about 800' climb from Lake Lillian. It's an unnamed ridge, looks to be a little over 5600', part of the the Rampart system, but it kind of sits off by itself. The views look like they'd be incredible from up there, but regardless of that, looking up it from the ridge between the lakes, it looks like some idyllic Maxfield Parish landscape of waterfalls and rock outcrops and lush meadows. Definitely will want to check that out, soon!
I got to Lake Lillian using the "Rampart Ridge Backdoor" route that you can find on this site. I followed around the back side of the lake on the way up, and came back via the outlet side. Both sides have some small exposed areas, but they are otherwise about equally difficult. Total elevation was somewhere around 2000', and 7-8 miles round trip.