Begin at the Gold Creek Trailhead and walk counterclockwise around the Gold Creek Pond Trail following the signs to the junction with Gold Creek Trail, approximately a fourth mile. Gold Creek Trail follows a road through private property over a mile before entering the national forest and becoming a trail. At milepost 2.5 enter Alpine Lakes Wilderness. Wander up the Gold Creek Valley through deep forest, open talus and cross several large avalanche tracks with occasional glimpses of Gold Creek.
An especially large avalanche in 2007-2008 cut a large swath through the trees below Alta Mountain, crossed Gold Creek and knocked down trees on the opposite side of the valley. Several fords require wading and crossing Gold Creek at milepost 4.3, but may not be safe during high water. You’ll find a few good campsites along the creek.
At about five miles the maintained trail ends at a junction. Beyond this point the trails are overgrown and difficult to follow. The left fork climbs one steep mile through vine maple, alder and talus (rockslide) to Alaska Lake at 4,230 feet. The right fork proceeds 1.75 miles up the main valley, climbing through avalanche greenery and forest, reaching the base of Alaska Mountain. A steep, hazardous boot path on a staircase of rocks and roots climbs to Joe Lake at 4,624 feet.
At a Glance
From North Bend, WA take I-90 east for about 24 miles to the Hyak exit #54. Take this exit and go left (north) and then turn right on Forest Service Road #4832 that parallels the north side of the freeway. Drive 1.0 mile, turn left on Gold Creek road #142 and turn left in 0.3 mile into the Gold Creek Pond parking lot.