Gold Creek Pond and Autumn Surprises

Gold Creek Pond with fall colors and snowy mountain

If you’re looking for an easy trail with beautiful views, a picnic area, ADA accessible and close to Seattle–look no further! The Gold Creek Pond Trail is a 1.1 mile loop trail that circles the Gold Creek pond. It is a relatively flat, paved (with a few boardwalk bridges) trail that circles this very large alpine lake of a pond. Keep reading to discover why this trail is worth the trip!

A Little History About Gold Creek Pond

As you look at the photographs of Gold Creek Pond, try to imagine that back in the ’70s and ’80s, this pond didn’t even exist.  Instead, this area was a gravel pit supplying the construction of the I-90 freeway. Since that time, a restoration project began and is still underway, to develop the area around Gold Creek. It is such a beautiful location now, as you look out over the water, it is incredible to see the transformation from pit to pond.

A Snowy Surprise

Snowy bridge over Gold Creek
I wasn't the only one to venture out on this cold October day.

The night before I visited Gold Creek Pond, I had plans to take my camera and go hunt down some fall foliage.  When I got up the next morning, my phone’s weather report showed it was 36 degrees out!  Let me tell you for Seattle fall weather–this is cold!

Honestly, one of the things I love about the Seattle area is our mild weather.  Typically in early October, it is often sunny and in the 60s! I had initially planned on driving to Leavenworth; however, with my late morning start, I knew I’d need to adjust my plans. Gold Creek Pond Trail was on my radar for a while, and it was only an hour’s drive, so I decided to head there.

Imagine my surprise when I discovered Snoqualmie Pass (Gold Creek Pond is near the summit) had snow! Snow. And it’s barely October! This was odd, but I figured if I didn’t get any photos of fall colors, at least I’d get some snowy fall photos?

Gold Creek Pond Trail

Gold Creek Pond trailhead sign
Go left for a short walk to the picnic area or walk right for a scenic loop around the pond.

After you arrive at the parking lot, you will see a pit toilet on the right and an information board in the center. Follow the path to the left of the information board. Soon you will arrive at the above trail sign. 

If you go right, this will also lead you to the trailhead for Gold Creek Trail, which takes you to the Alpine Lakes Wilderness Area. However, for this hike, you can go either right or left as you make your loop around the pond. If you come here for a picnic or BBQ, go left as this is the quickest way to the picnic area.

Part of the picnic area at Gold Creek Pond. I can just imagine a warm, summer's day BBQ with friends and family.

There are a couple of small wooden bridges that you will cross as you make the 1.1-mile loop around Gold Creek Pond. The wooden planks were icy when I visited, so I took it slow when crossing. If you make the loop counterclockwise, as I did,  you will walk alongside Gold Creek through a wooded area before seeing Gold Creek Pond.

As I walk, I hear the sounds of the water rushing over the rocks in the creek. The crunch, crunch of snow under my feet, and the faint laughter of someone on the other side of the pond greet my ears. I smile at the beauty this odd snow day had brought.

One of the wooden bridges you will cross on the loop trail around Gold Creek Pond.

Making Friends on the Trail

About halfway around Gold Creek Pond, I came across the two hikers who I had heard earlier. They laughed and had fun as they splashed water and captured it in slow motion with their cell phones. I like meeting people on the trail and seeing their enjoyment of nature.

informative sign about beavers in Gold Creek Pond

There are a few informative signs scattered around the trail.

Later I met a lovely woman who was out hiking with her dog. She said she comes out here during each season and takes a photo.  In wintertime, she uses crampons or snowshoes and said it is beautiful to see then too.

Then I met a photographer who was seizing the opportunity to find snowy mushrooms, something you wouldn’t usually see.  And later towards the end of the loop trail, a nice man and his wife let me know when I crossed the creek that if I looked down, I could see salmon swimming below.

So you see, besides enjoying the beauty of nature, you get to meet all sorts of friendly people. It’s a perfect way to relax and remember what a beautiful world we live in.

fall colors and reflections in the water of gold creek pond

Make sure to walk out to that tip by taking a short trail that splits off the main one just past the beaver sign.

Taking Time to Soak in Nature’s Beauty

Make sure to locate one of the many benches scattered along the trail. There are a few right next to the water that would make the perfect resting spot.

And if you’re lucky, you might even spot a great blue heron. You are almost certain to see ducks and Canadian geese and of course, the frequent sightings of a mischievous squirrel or two.

snowy bench by the water at Gold Creek Pond

Perhaps another time when winter hasn’t beat me to the seat.

Getting to Gold Creek Pond Trailhead

It’s only about a 1-hour drive from Seattle to Gold Creek Pond. And what a beautiful drive it is!

  • Take I-90 E to Exit 54 for the Hyak ski area.
  • Turn left at the stop sign.
  • Make a right at the first road passed the I-90 on/off ramps (Forest Service Rd #4832).
  • Drive parallel to I-90 for about 1 mile before making a left at the sign for Gold Creek Rd and Trail.
  • Then continue another quarter mile before making a left onto the pavement and into the parking lot.

Useful Information

Gold Creek in the fall.
If you look on the left side of the photograph you'll see a jet that flew overhead.

Road Conditions: The road leading to the trailhead parking lot is a dirt road that is full of potholes. So take it slow, and you should be fine. Once you make the final left, it returns to a paved road as you enter the parking area.

Parking/Fees: You need a Northwest Forest Pass to park here.  Please note that in the winter, a Sno-Parks permit is required — which is different from the Northwest Forest Pass. If you don’t already have a Northwest Forest Pass, you can purchase a day pass at the parking lot trailhead. For winter use, buy the appropriate sno-parks permit ahead of time.

Trail access: Gold Creek Pond Trail is ADA accessible, and I saw one woman in her motorized wheelchair here, even with the snow! Some parts of the trail, when I visited, were overgrown a little on each side, so the path got a bit narrow. I love that we have this beautiful trail accessible to those with mobility issues.

Facilities: There is a pit toilet at the trailhead. Make sure to bring your hand sanitizer, as there was none provided when I visited. On the left side of the pond, you will find a large picnic area with lots of picnic tables and even a few grills scattered here and there.

Don’t miss this beautiful and family-friendly trail. It is a short drive from Seattle, and if you have extra time and want to explore more of the Snoqualmie area’s beauty, make sure to stop and see the Snoqualmie Falls.

Happy Trails!

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