Editor’s note: As the weather gets cooler and we enter the winter season, please check the WTA website for hiking closures and road conditions before heading out.
Tip: Summer, spring, winter or fall this park is a beautiful place to go for an easy walk in the woods leading up to the pond. Check the weather before you go so you can dress appropriately.
If you’re looking for an easy walk through the woods with IG-worthy views, Gold Creek Pond is the place to be! My kids and I enjoyed this park, with paved paths, an easy looped trail, picnic benches for a rest, and plenty of space to stop off for lunch, snacks or to build a fire.
Getting there and parking
Located about an hour outside of Seattle, Gold Creek Pond is off Interstate 90 at the Hyak Park exit. The drive is easy and very manageable with kids.
Approaching the park you’ll come across signs that signal a wildlife corridor and warning signs that alerted us of wild animals in the area — think bear, coyotes and bobcats. Leading up to the parking lot we found the road to be filled with huge potholes. “It’s like a minefield!” observed my 10-year-old son.
Dodging across, through, and around the water-filled holes, I nervously made our way to a large parking lot with plenty of open spots. We met up with friends for this hike and started right away, around the 1.3-mile loop.
Gold Creek Pond: The trail
We started on the completely paved trail and walked the loop around the park. The loop is straightforward with very few forks in the trail. CRUNCH CRUNCH CRUNCH. Snow had just fallen on the paths a day or so before our trek and the paths were somewhat snowed over and icy, but completely manageable. For extra safety and stability, snow boots, spikes and/or walking sticks are recommended.
The children stopped to examine the fallen snow and foliage. We picked up balls of snow and pelted them at each other. “SNOWBALL fight!!” all three kids yelled. We handled icicles and admired the snowmen that other kids had built.
Gold Creek pond: the pond!
The path twists and turns, then opens up to this majestic green pond. You’d think you fell into a picture-perfect postcard. The mountains were ever-so-slightly covered by the clouds and the water was clear and cold. The kids ran down to the water and skipped rocks and eventually found their way through an obstacle course of logs and stones. Skipping over small boulders to reach the other side of the beach we heard the kids direct one another, “You jump to that rock and skip this way!”
“Aw, man! My shoes are wet!” my youngest son said. Note to self: Waterproof boots and clothing are a must when children explore near the water. (On that subject, here’s an expert guide to winter gear and preparation with kids.)
Across the pond is an island. Birds make their homes there as well as other wildlife. There’s no way to cross the pond, and there are signs warning visitors to avoid disturbing the habitat. Observe from the shore, maybe count how many birds land on the island.
Let’s do it again!
We ended the loop at an open area lined with picnic tables and an amazing view of the mountains and more views of the pond beneath. Ashes from fires, bags of trash and various pieces of litter speckled the sandy beach area. Remember to pack up your things, trash included, and dispose of it in the public receptacles or take it home properly.
We saw a few families bring in firewood, chairs and food to spend the chilly evening outside.
After much relaxation by the pond, we decided to head back … in the other direction! We walked the loop backwards crossing over paved and logged bridges and pathways until we reach the end of the trail. If it weren’t for the hunger pangs, we might have walked it again — and again! It’s that easy, short and so beautiful.
Gold Creek Pond: snowshoeing
Gold Creek Pond is accessible all year round and is a wonderful place to snowshoe during the winter. Highly recommended for first-timers, this park is ideal for families who are learning together. The path is easy to navigate and predictable, making it simple for smaller children to follow along in their snowshoes or boots.
I caught up with our friends, the Ruedebusch family, at the beginning of February after they had gone snowshoeing at Gold Creek Pond for the first time.
“We had such a blast! It was REALLY deep snow and we used snowshoes. The hike was super easy and fun (even with four kids!)” said mom Paula.
Paula’s pro tips: Rent snowshoes for the day, bring walking sticks to break the icy snow, and have snacks along the way!
Gold Creek Pond is a lovely place to spend some outdoor active time in all types of weather. We got back to our car and talked about how beautiful the mountains and the pond would be in the spring and summer.
“I bet there would be wildflowers,” my younger son said. We can’t wait to come back and find out!