Gold Creek Pond

This one had been on my list for a few years. It’s a simple sucker, a mile loop. It always seemed a bit far to go with five kiddos for a measly mile. But it was time to check it off. And, man, it delivered. Absolutely stunning. I mean, I love everything PNW and could probably use stunning to describe several hikes. Gold Creek Pond has gorgeous water. This alone gets the stunning award from me.

We had standing summer hiking plans on Fridays with a friend and her three kiddos, which didn’t always happen each week between travel and summer camps for both of our families. But when it worked out, it was so much fun to hang together and check out new trails. Like Gold Creek Pond.

It’s an hour drive east from home. The plan was to meet at 10am; we were out the door before 9am. I’m rarely ever late, even with the gang of kiddos we have. I like to be preprepared in case there’s traffic or we have to stop for any reason—I always pad the time by 15 minutes. Also because I like enough time to find parking and get situated before we set out. I constantly worry about finding parking at trailheads. In all the hikes I’ve done, only once did I have to park in the overflow lot, which still had parking. It’s an irrational worry and yet I won’t stop this nonsense.

Gold Creek Pond was no different; I worried about parking. For no freaking reason. The parking lot is huge. Ample parking. I suppose on a sunny, summer weekend it may fill up?! But there was no reason to waste any mental space worrying about parking there.

Friday hikers!

The hike. We set off on the trail once our friends arrived and we were all ready to roll. Eight kiddos in tow, we started on the trailhead off the parking lot. It’s very clearly marked. It’s a paved loop and we let the kiddos decided which way we’d loop. The consensus was to go clockwise. To the left we went.

Gold Creek Pond, viewed from the open area.

Not far from the start of the loop is an open area with picnic tables. There’s easy access to the water, a nice shoreline for the kiddos to play in the water. There was some rock throwing and sampling of the water to see how cold it was (it was cold in my book). After a bit of time in the open area, we continued on the paved trail. We came upon a lookout where the water showed its true color for the first time. It didn’t look so blue in the open area. The kiddos found a trail to the water and made their way down. It was slightly steep so I helped Maive get down. The excitment down the steep trail waned and all the kiddos walked back up to the trail. We kept on moving.

That water color!

It was about this time I really regretted forgetting bug spray. Holy hell, there were bugs GALORE. I had already been eaten alive in the little bit we had been there, and it kept getting worse. Bugs never used to like me much, always going for Brian. But this year has been awful. I am constantly getting eaten—I must be doing something different food- or smell-wise that attracts them?! After this day, I now have bug spray in all hiking backpacks, my car, the stroller… I’m prepared.

The views of the water and surrounding mountains is so pretty. I could have parked anywhere along the trail for the day and enjoyed the views. That’s what two young gals had planned. There is a strip of land that goes into the pond off of the main trail. It’s walkable. And the kiddos all wanted to check it out. We spent maybe 15 minutes down there, exploring the shoreline. Walking back up to the trail, two early 20-something gals were walking down with beach chairs on their backs and beach bags on their shoulders. It was clearly their plan to hang out on the water for the day. To be young and carefree again, I admired them. And I hope they had a wonderful day!

More Gold Creek Pond, up close and personal down the strip of land.

Back on the main trail we kept on trekking clockwise. Soon we were at a bridge. I LOVE bridges. For no reason I can come up with. Of course all the kiddos took their time on the bridge, finding rocks to toss into the water from up high. I waited until they were all off the bridge before grabbing some photos of the sucker.


The younger two hanging around the bridge making mustaches while the other kiddos tossed rocks into the water.

After the bridge, the water somewhat disappears. The trail turns more into the standard hiking trail, surrounded by trees and greenery. Along with some wildflowers. There’s a long boardwalk we strolled across before finding a massive ant hill. There were SO many ants on the thing. Crazy. The bugs continued to eat me as we neared the end of the loop.

Wildflowers, a boardwalk, and a massive ant hill.

I’m glad we went clockwise. Starting counter-clockwise would have led us through the more hike-like area, with no views of the water until the bridge. But I’m sure if we had gone counter-clockwise, I’d be saying I’m glad we went that way to check off the tree area before coming to the bridge and stunning water. I’m really good at rationalizing anything.

Back at the parking lot, we still had the day ahead of us. It was a short hike. More like a stroll. My friend suggested we meet at Rattlesnake Lake. Sold. I hadn’t planned on anything after Gold Creek Pond so I didn’t pack lunches. I needed to feed the kiddos before hitting up Rattlesnake.

Burger King. Not the solution I had planned but it was all good. I was going to grab McDonald’s for the kiddos since it’s easy and I have their orders down. Well, order. I no longer personalize orders. I just get a bunch of burgers, cheeseburgers, nuggets, and fries, and then have the kiddos grub buffet-style. But the McDonald’s drive-thru was incredibly long. Burger Kink (typo there but I kind of like it so I’m leaving it for a laugh when I read this in 10 years) is across the street; there was no lone in the drive-thru. We pulled right up and I ordered like I do at McDonald’s, plus an Impossible Whopper for me. Not that we eat fast food often—usually on road trips or in a pinch like this day—but McDonald’s needs to get with the vegetarian/vegan options. Food in hand, we were off to Rattlesnake Lake.

Another place I typically worry about parking. But not this day. Maybe I was on a post-hike high—nothing bothered me. Ample parking, of course. And being the creature of habit that I am, I parked int he same spot I always park in when we go there. Even though there were open spots closer. Our friends arrived before us, and were waiting for us to find an area to settle in on the beach. We found a place and settled down.

Picnic blanket out, Burger King buffet spread out. The kiddos scarfed down food before exploring the lake. It was a warm day and the water felt nice on the tootsies. All the kiddos—and us moms—took off our shoes and waded in the shallow shore. There is a tree maybe 20 feet from the shoreline. The kiddos had their sights set on climbing the sucker. They hiked up their shorts/pants, and set out to see who could make it up. Blaise was the most determined, and made it no problem. Laine did also, only because she is highly competitive. Saige and Baby could have if they wanted to get wet. Being slightly shorter, no matter how much they hiked up their shorts, they were going to get wet. They opted to hang out in the water up until their shorts.

Rattlesnake Lake kiddos!

Talk about a fun, much needed, spontaneous afternoon. It was a beautiful day, it wasn’t very crowded, and all the kiddos were in fabulous moods. Blaise was slightly annoyed, asking a few times when we were leaving because he had plans to game in the afternoon. I had no answer, because we weren’t on a schedule. He didn’t like this but dealt.

It was close to two hours we spent on the beach. I suggested we walk up to the Cedar River Watershed Education Center. We’ve spent several hours there in the years I’ve had kiddos. It’s a really fun place, and I don’t feel like many people know it’s there?! The vacuum tubs are always the biggest hit with the kiddos. It was no different this day.

We spent close to an hour in the Center, checking out all the information for the umpteenth time. It clearly never gets old for my crew. Their friends seemed to enjoy it themselves, having never been there.

Cedar River Watershed Education Center kiddos.

Eventually we left, making the walk back to the parking lot. We parted ways with our friends after a fun-filled day. I’m not usually a spontaneous person when it comes to how we spend our days. I like to have a game plan with a rough timeline, and this day was welcomed change. I need to be more like this. And Blaise, since he was concerned about the timeline also. Even if for selfish gaming reasons—he’s a major schedule fan like myself, even when there’s no gaming involved. He’s my only kid whom, every night, asks what the plan is for the next day.

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