It’s January, so we should stay inside and dream of springtime hikes, right? Wrong. It’s a perfect time for snowshoeing, aka hiking in the snow. If you can hike, you can snowshoe, and with Snoqualmie Pass less than an hour from Seattle, it’s time to get outside. Gold Creek Pond is a top choice for those who have never been out in snowshoes but want to get in a little winter wonderland and for anyone just looking for a gorgeous hour or two in the snow with very little effort.
You won’t be alone — expect crowds for this one. Head to the Gold Creek Sno-Park, at exit 54 just east of the summit of Snoqualmie Pass. You’ll need a Sno-Park permit to park. Parking is the first challenge — find a space along the road, and the walk down to the well-marked trail entrance. The first section of the trail is actually another forest service road, closed in the winter. This makes for a very wide and nearly completely flat jaunt to the actually trail to Gold Creek Pond. Note, there is one fork in the road on the way to the Pond - take the left fork! Soon you’ll see the sign for Gold Creek Pond. About a mile from your starting point, the trail opens up to a wide beach area, with gorgeous views of the pond with the mountains rising above it. You’ll definitely want to stop and take some photos here. While the pond does freeze at times during the winter, and it does look oh so tempting, please don’t venture on the ice unless you want to end up on the evening news. Weather changes fast and what was frozen solid yesterday might not be today.
Kids and dogs love to play in the large open area next to the pond, but if you’re up for more, take the trail around the Pond. It’s paved in the summer, so super easy to follow. (Be respectful of private property, you’ll see signs). The loop will take you away from the crowds for some quiet time in the woods with gorgeous views of the lake from every angle. You’ll get a nice view of the ski area across I-90 as well.
First timer tips: If it’s your first time out, rent a pair of snowshoes from REI or other outdoor sports store. Poles make it even easier to trek, so get a pair of those as well. Warm waterproof gear is always a good idea - especially gloves and pants. Bring water and snacks (and the 10 Essentials if you’re doing the lake loop). If you’re still nervous about trying out snowshoes, think about taking one the Forest Service led snowshoe walks from the Pass. (These are on hold currently due to the government shutdown). Sno Park permits are available from these vendors but on busy weekends, there is often an employee at the Sno-Park entrance selling them from a truck. Don’t risk the fine and support the parks by getting a permit.