Arrived just after 7am to catch the sunrise. We were perhaps the fifth car, and got a space right next to the Gold Creek Snowshoe Trailhead. The road from the I-90 (NF-4832) was in a fairly good condition, with several snow free stretches, but also some stretches of hardened snow and ice. The iciest sections were at the corner by Gold Creek Sno-Park where you first enter the road, and by the Gold Creek Snowshoe Trailhead, but with our AWD it was fine.
We put on our snowshoes and headed straight to the pond to view the first light on the mountain tops, soaking up a soft orange glow. The early morning light was spectacular!
It felt like we had the place to ourselves. There was one other person also enjoying the view by the pond, but otherwise was just nature. We followed the trail clockwise around the pond, and then headed to the spit of land that sticks out towards the island.
The snow had a very hard crust. We stuck to our snowshoes, but later on we saw others in boots. However there were quite a lot of deep “postholes” all over the place, presumably from when the crust was thinner.
Continuing clockwise, the bridge covered in six feet of snow is always a fun sight. We crossed over and then turned left at the sign to follow the short connector trail up to the road (NF-114). The connector trail is not well marked but it’s impossible to miss the road.
Heading north we followed the road up past the cabins. A number of trees have fallen, but none block the road because they have recently been cut. We reached Heli’s Pond and took a loop around clockwise. The bridge over the outlet stream is closed, but this isn’t a problem because there is so much snow that you can just walk over the stream.
We continued further north, past the point where the road ends and the trail begins, then after reaching a good view point decided to turn around and head back.
Passing by Gold Creek Pond on the way back about midday it was quite busy, and more people continued to roll in as we left. Back at the car, the road was now very busy with cars parked all the way from the trailhead to past the bridge over Gold Creek. The stretch between Gold Creek and Coal Creek had many spaces, but past Coal Creek it was completely packed again.