This beautiful loop travels through rich forests and past viewpoints all over Green Mountain State Forest as hikers climb toward the top and loop around the rolling terrain. This lollipop loop is a great way to explore the area and immerse oneself in nature.
This hike uses multi-use, bidirectional trails open to pedestrians, mountain bikers, equestrians, and dirt bikers. Sight lines are limited, so use caution and observe the stop signs at road crossings. In the winter and after rains, the trails may have large puddles and even running water.
From the Gold Creek Trailhead, a broad and misleadingly easy trail leads to a bridge crossing. Don't be fooled though, as the rest of the route features roots and climbs aplenty.
As you turn left to stay on the Gold Creek Trail
, the path narrows and becomes an entrenched channel peppered with roots, rocks, and water bars. These obstacles will make you work, but there isn't anything unmanageable.
As you hike, the forest envelops the trail in beautiful foliage and tall trees. The Plummer Trail
, and a number of unmarked paths, will make appearances through this greenery, but the signage is easy to follow. Not too far past a randomly placed bench, the trail splits.
Keep right along the narrower, gravelly singletrack to stay on trail. The Gold Creek Trail
soon reconnects back to itself and the remaining trail is well benched. Obstacles are minimal going forwards, except for a craggy rock face before the clearcut. There's a small bench here if you want to take in the panorama, but the view is actually a little better just a few feet further down.
Not far from the edge of the trees is the intersection with the top of the Beaver Pond Trail
. Keep right for a loose, gravelly climb back into the trees. The grade will steepen a bit, but nothing compared to what you've already completed. Gold Creek Trail
soon ends at a triangular intersection with the Wildcat Trail
and Vista Trail
If you're hankering to "earn the summit" or need to use the restroom, follow the Vista Trail
to a picnic area at the top with a sadly unexceptional viewpoint. Otherwise, take the Wildcat Trail
back into the clearcut and over the road (there's a good viewpoint here from the road).
On the other side of the road, the trail takes on a "bobsled" quality as it weaves through a replanted forest. Pop back on the road and then back into the trees for a beautiful, shaded descent. Turn right onto the next road (GM-17) and then back onto the trail for a somewhat-chunky climb to a clearcut.
The trail is quite enjoyable here and worth lingering for as it crosses the clearcut. The hiking is undemanding, and there are a few different spots that offer broad views of Seattle and Mt. Rainier. An easy descent away from the clearcut travels along a well-benched, gravelly section on its way to the intersection with the Beaver Pond.
Head left to begin a mellow climb through an open forest with short undergrowth. After 0.3 miles, begin a gentle descent that continues across the road (GM-3). On the other side, the winding singletrack follows an entrenched channel as it winds through the ferns and undergrowth. The forest, while denser, is still quite lovely here. Just past an unassuming creek crossing, the trail begins rising as it parallels a road.
The next section is pretty short and involves about a half mile of climbing as the trail bobs about past a shallow pond and clumps of salal. Cross over the road (GM-1) to arrive in a cool, mossy forest that leads to a swampy pond. The views are overall shrouded, but it's still a nice waypoint.
Ahead, the trail becomes notably rocky as it begins to undulate en route to a bridge crossing. On the other side is the intersection with the Plummer Trail
. The Beaver Pond Trail
continues left and begins to climb. While it's still under the trees, the going is pretty easy, but as it enters the clearcut, the grade steepens and the tread becomes rocky and loose.
This section is a bit of a grind, but it's the last uphill push of the hike. Fortunately, the views get better as you climb. Head right at the intersection with the Gold Creek Trail
and retrace your way back down the roots and obstacles you passed on the way up. At the split in the trail, you could go right for a change of scenery, but this option is steeper, so most will want to keep left.
The turns, dips, and roots pass quickly, and you'll soon find yourself back at the bridge crossing with a very easy hike back to the parking area.