Gold Creek Sno-Park

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The Gold Creek Sno-Park, on the eastern side of Snoqualmie Pass, is one of more than 120 state-maintained public winter recreation areas in Washington. And being so close to Seattle, it is one of the more popular. A Sno-Park is simply a parking lot cleared of snow. Some support non-motorized use only, but two-thirds are designated primarily for snowmobiling. Gold Creek is mixed-use, with has three distinct areas. Two are for activities such as snowshoeing and cross-country skiing, and a third incorporates 23 miles (37 km) of groomed snowmobile trails.

On the first of our two visits to Gold Creek Sno-Park this season, we snowshoed through the central recreation area off Gold Creek Pond. The loop around the pond is popular with beginner snowshoers because the terrain is flat and the distance relatively short. We continued well past the pond to the climb a short distance up the steep flank of 5,870 ft (1,790 m) Rampart Ridge. Fresh snow had recently fallen, and we enjoyed both the winter scenery and blazing new trails through the snow. We also crossed several creeks en route, some by footbridges, others on vegetation piled high with snow, and one by scrambling up and down a steep bank.

Below are highlights from March 20th, 2022. Click any image for a larger view, or click the position to view the location on a map. And a map with our most recent log entries always is available at

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Nutty Cinnamon Quinoa
Warm and Nutty Cinnamon Quinoa for breakfast, made with blueberries, almonds and black quinoa.
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Lake Mardee Road
Recent snow on Lake Mardee Road, running parallel to I-90 just beyond Snoqualmie Pass as we approach the trailhead for the Gold Creek Pond snowshoe trails.
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Gold Creek Sno-Park
At the trailhead for Gold Creek Pond, one of three distinct winter recreation areas at the Gold Creek Sno-Park. The snow on the trail was fairly well-packed and we walked the initial part.
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Enjoying the winter scene at a small channel off the southeast corner of Gold Creek Pond.
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Gold Creek Trail
Heading north along the east side of Gold Creek Pond. Buried in the snow is a fully-paved path, suitable for wheelchairs, that encircles the pond.
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Gold Creek Pond
Looking across Gold Creek Pond to a bridge on the east side over a small creek estuary.
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Forest Road 142
We left the Gold Creek Pond loop for Forest Road 142 to continue further north to Heli’s Pond. Ours were the first tracks in the recent snow.
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Gold Creek Valley
Signpost for the Gold Creek Valley Natural Area at Heli’s Pond.
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Heli’s Pond
Looking across Heli’s Pond to a bridge at the south end. The bridge is closed for maintenance, and piled high with snow.
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Rampart Ridge
Climbing up the reasonably steep grade at the base of 5,870 ft (1,790 m) Rampart Ridge, visible in the distance.
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Enjoying a snack with some hot tea at the base of Rampart Ridge.
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Snow Bridge
James carefully shuffling his feet to keep his weight widely-distributed as he crosses a snow bridge spanning a small creek.
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Gold Creek
Beautiful winter scene at Gold Creek west of Rampart Ridge. Our initial plan was to cross the creek and return along the east side, but it was too wide and swift-flowing to fjord.
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The creek we’d crossed earlier flowed into Gold Creek, and we couldn’t find any reasonable crossing points above the creek. The creek is small and narrow though, and easily crossed. The difficulty was getting back up the steep slope on the other side. Here James is hauling himself back up the other side using overhanging tree branches. We probably wouldn’t win any points for artistic impression, but we did get across.
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Hidden Bridge
Arriving back at Heli’s Pond, we continued south along the east side. The summer bridge at right is closed for maintenance, but the snow is so deep you can hardly see the yellow sign closing it. We, and most others, crossed the creek using the snow bridge to the left of the summer bridge.
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Deep Snow
Several feet of snow covered this bridge across a creek entering the north end of Gold Creek Pond.
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Gold Creek Pond is popular with snowshoers due to the easy grade, but people are enjoying the snow in a number of ways, such as these sledders.
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When we arrived at 9:30 this morning there were perhaps a half-dozen cars parked along the road. When we returned back out at 1:30pm all the visible parking was taken in both directions.
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Back at the North Bend Bar and Grill for a late lunch. Even at 2pm, the place was hopping and the kitchen looked to be running at near capacity.
Show locations on map Click the travel log icon on the left to see these locations on a map. And a map of our most recent log entries always is available at


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6 comments on “Gold Creek Sno-Park
  1. Raffaele Santopaolo says:

    It’s easy to notice that, while traveling, you (both) use laptops. I think I’ve never seen you using an iPad or any other tablet.
    Being a laptop so much heavier than a tablet, is that any specific reason for the choice ?

    • Modern laptops are getting fairly small. I currently use an HP Dragonfly and it’s 2.18 lbs (0.99kg) which is more than a tablet but, for my work, I need a company approved device running a heavy load of security software and I want a keyboard. So, for me, the laptop seems like a best fit. The combination of a large screen phone (Pixel 6 Pro) when I don’t feel like having the laptop with me and a small screen laptop (HP Dragonfly) seems to cover the ground and I don’t like I need a tablet in between.

      Jennifer used to have a tablet but she now uses just a smartphone and a small laptop (Thinkpad X1 Carbon). She likes the laptop for access to all the pictures when working on the website and, for writing, she prefers to have a keyboard. I think you are right that we would be fine and might even prefer using the combination of a phone, a very high end tablet, and a wireless keyboard and skip the laptops.

      • Raffaele Santopaolo says:

        I also prefer laptops. The (small) price to pay in terms of weight (my X1 weights 2.51lbs/1.14 Kg) is acceptable for the huge incremental productivity I get on it. I don’t think it’s because of keyboard that, as you said, can be used, as I do with my iPad, even if the quality of keys certainly matter, and the best wireless keyboard still doesn’t match that of a good laptop. I think it’s much more a matter of daily habits and simple tasks in using basic office apps that doesn’t work on a tablet as they work on a PC. MS Excel would be an easy example. But also – think for a moment – the simple process of saving docs in folders and retrieving them has a completely different experience btw laptops and tablets. For me that matters, too. In searching for “confirmation” I landed on some really remarkable papers that essentially confirm that (1) (2). But, who knows, the jury is out, at least for me !
        P.S. : being myself a Thinkpad addict…. – how did you switch ?


        Sorry for the English, hope you got my point.


        • You’re right in thinking it was a big decision for me to move off the Thinkpad laptop line. I was a long time Thinkpad fan going back to nearly as early as when IBM originally released them in the early 90s. Great systems. Two things caused me to move on: 1) the last generation of the Carbon X1 had two keyboard failures in 6 months, and 2) my work no longer has an agreement with Lenovo so I can only use the systems with a negotiated exception and less than ideal internal support.

          I find the HP Dragonfly competes well on ergonomics, is well supported where I work, and it’s reliable in the difficult conditions I operate it in (lots of high humidity outside use).

          • Raffaele says:

            Hope the Dragonfly is performing as expected and better then the beloved Thinkpads.

            I’m just in the process of buying a new Thinkpad workstation and really fallen in the choice paralisys. Maybe your both experience with them can help me find a way out.

            I’m an happy (no, very very happy) owner of an oldie Thinkpad W520 (i7-2670QM – 1000M – 24GB RAM – 8+8+4+4) that proved surprisingly better than many newer X1s Carbon (i7 gen7 to gen9) my company tried to feed me in the last years. It handles any work and dozens of browser tabs and multitasking without a glitch and w/o memory or CPU issues.

            Many (on reddit) correctly joked at me saying “Why is a CPU with half the cores and a third of the power consumption slower when multitasking?”

            So I’m now agonizing at buying a new Thinkpad. I want a better experience not worse. I’m looking of course at the worsktation series, but there’r are too many: P14 P15 “v” “s”, P1, P-xyz….

            Portability is not an issue. I don’t do any video, graphic or photographic work. I need to work on Excel files that often are over many thousands rows. We also edit documents that can have little graphic and work on (too many) browser apps. And do it all connected to an ext monitor wider as possible (currently an LG 32″ but I want to upgrade soon). I’m not sure I need to spend on the fastest graphic/video features and when I see they call them “multimedia workstation”, I feel I’m not in the right place.

            What type of models do you think should I look at ? Too much choice makes me paralized..

            • I’ve bought Lenovo laptops since the 90s and found them to be excellent performers with great durability. However, the last two both had early keyboard failures so I’ve switched to the HP Dragonfly which I really like. It’s a bit more compact than the X1 Carbon and performs well. On your performance question, the best solution to great performance with test you referenced (performance with lots of browser tabs open) is get a large memory system with high spec processor.

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