Hike description: Abundant rhododendrons and a relatively low elevation make this a wonderful spring hike. Not only that but after a short drive from the city, you're off in the woods.
The elevation gain is enough to remind you that you’re alive but not too much to discourage novice hikers.
The trail follows cascading Gold Creek part of the way and takes you by wetlands complete with beaver ponds.
Download the trail map and note that you can follow any combination of trails and old roads depending on the weather and your inclination.
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The roads offer a pleasant, wide path for strolling and chatting.
Follow the road if the trails are mud- or snow-covered or you have been off of the trails for a while. If you’re feeling more sure-footed, strike out on the paths.
One choice would be to take Road GM 6 to GM 17 and then pick up GM 1 to the vista at the summit. However you get there, the summit should be your lunch destination.
On a clear day, you can see Seattle in all of its glory to the east. The Space Needle, skyscrapers, sports arenas and the Cascades linger in the background. It’s a beautiful blue-and-white panorama.
Hop over to a picnic table looking west where Hood Canal and the wild Olympics stare right back at you.
As you make your descent back to the trailhead parking lot, realize that you have been free from the noise of traffic for most of the day.
The Wildcat Trailhead on the north side of the forest is an alternate starting point but it does not offer the road or trail option.
Directions: From the Tacoma Narrows bridge, take state Route 16 west to state Route 3. Take Route 3 to the Kitsap Way exit near Bremerton. Turn left on Kitsap Way.
You will pass the AAA office on your right and come to the Red Apple Grocery, also on your right.
Just past the store, take a left onto Northlake Way Northwest. In 1.1 miles, you’ll come to a Y intersection. Go left on Seabeck Highway Northwest and take it 3.3 miles to Holly Road. Go left and take Holly Road 4.3 miles to Tahuya Lake Road. Go left and take it 3.1 miles to the Gold Creek Trailhead on your left.
The far end of the parking lot, past the toilet, is a large area for horse trailers. You will pass the old trailhead and a sign directing you to the new, larger trailhead area.
Difficulty rating: 2 (1 is easiest, 5 is most difficult)
Miles round-trip: 6
Elevation: 1,000 feet
Best time of year: Year-round
Map: You can download a map of the area from www.dnr.wa.gov/publications/eng_rms_green_08_full.pdf
Pass: None required
Also: Be prepared to share the trail with horses and bicycles. Members of AAA can get a road map of the area at the office on Kitsap Way.
A good rule of thumb is to never leave valuables in the car at any trailhead.
Outhouses are at the trailhead and summit; picnic tables are at the summit.
Please read and follow the rules posted at the trailhead and pack out all of your trash.
More information: www.dnr.wa.gov/recreationeducation/pages/home.aspx
Hike of the Week is presented by The Mountaineers Tacoma Branch Hiking/Backpacking Committee.