Hiking

8 Wonderful Washington Snowshoeing Routes – Bearfoot Concept

Although the Puget Sound Lowlands have a popularity for gentle, comparatively snow-free winters, the mountains of Western Washington log a few of the deepest annual snowpacks on the planet making Washington snowshoeing routes a few of the greatest within the nation.

Mount Rainier within the Central Cascades and Mount Baker to the north common greater than 650 inches of annual snowfall and ceaselessly high 1,000 inches – that’s 83 ft of snow! The 2 peaks routinely alternate as world file holders for many annual snowfall. At present, Mount Baker holds the world file at 1,140 inches (95 ft!), beating Mt. Rainier’s earlier file of 1,122 inches (93.5 ft!). 

All that snow creates unmatched journey alternatives for snowshoers and skiers. Forest roads turn into slender snowshoe trails, clearcuts turn into pristine meadows, and forests turn into quiet Zen gardens open for expansive exploration. 

Discover the very best Washington snowshoeing routes this winter with our information!

Winter Street Circumstances in Washington

Although there tends to be a variety of snow within the Cascades and Olympics, it’s not the sunshine, fluffy powder generally present in different Western states. The snow in Western Washington is domestically often known as Cascade Concrete. It tends to be wetter and heavier than Rocky Mountain powder. 

The one restrict to a Washington snowshoeing journey is highway entry. Solely essentially the most closely traveled mountain roads and passes are plowed, so guests are funneled in a couple of corridors of journey. Many of the cross-Cascade highways stay open, although the excessive, slender route over Chinook Go closes every November on the entrance to Mount Rainier Nationwide Park. Nevertheless, the Street to Paradise inside that park is saved open all winter, as is the winding path to Hurricane Ridge in Olympic Nationwide Park. At all times test highway circumstances earlier than heading out in your Washington snowshoeing journey.

Due to the variability of snowpacks from yr to yr (and even each day), these really helpful routes could differ in accessibility, issue, and even size. The important thing to benefiting from your winter adventures is checking for updates earlier than you head out and staying open to the concept of rapidly altering plans and expectations!

Washington Snowshoeing Trailheads — Mapped

Greatest Washington Snowshoeing Routes

Hurricane Ridge, Olympic Nationwide Park

  • Spherical-trip distance: as much as 5 miles 
  • Elevation Acquire: 800 ft
  • Problem: Simple to Troublesome

Olympic Nationwide Park encompasses the wild Pacific Ocean shoreline, deep rainforest valleys, and excessive, glaciated mountains. Hurricane Ridge stands because the premier vacation spot for exploring the mountain portion of the park. Come winter, this excessive, open ridge presents miles of snowy meadows for snowshoers to discover whereas having fun with panoramic views stretching from Mount Olympus to the south to Vancouver Island, Canada, to the north. 

To benefit from your time on the ridge, from the parking space close to the Hurricane Ridge Customer Heart, begin trekking west alongside the unplowed highway because it rolls by the Hurricane Ridge meadows and forest stands. As a result of the deep snow protects the delicate meadows, snowshoers can amble out into the fields as they transfer west, successfully customizing the journey. 

At about 1.4 miles from the parking space, the route crests a small knoll the place, throughout summer season months, guests can park and luxuriate in picnic tables with expansive views of the park. It is a good turnaround spot for a reasonable outing. However for the very best views, snowshoers will push on up the uncovered ridgeline towards the highest of Hurricane Hill. The summer-use path hugs the western slope of the ridge, however that route crosses some potential avalanche terrain. If following this path, be completely certain of present snow and avalanche circumstances. The higher possibility will probably be to stay to the slender ridge crest to climb close to the highest.

If the snow is closely crusted or icy, even snowshoes with heavy cleats won’t be sufficient to make sure protected footing to the summit so don’t set the highest as your final vacation spot. Your entire ridge up Hurricane Hill sports activities grand vistas, so benefit from the decrease slopes. To the north, the Strait of Juan de Fuca creates a blue-gray border separating the Olympic foothills from the inexperienced shores of Vancouver Island. Seeking to the east/northeast, the San Juan Islands dot the north finish of Puget Sound and past these islands stands the large white cone of Mount Baker. Nearer within the peaks of Olympic Nationwide Park line the sky: to the arcing from Mount Angeles and McCarthy Peak to the east right down to Mount Olympus and the spectacular Bailey Vary to the south. 

Winter tenting is allowed on Hurricane Ridge with a allow – you should definitely learn our information to chilly climate tenting for those who plan to remain in a single day.

To get there, from Port Angeles drive 17 miles up Hurricane Ridge Street to the Hurricane Ridge Customer Heart. Park close to the lodge and register with the rangers on the heart.

Snowshoeing at Hurricane Ridge in Olympic National Park // Explore the best Washington snowshoeing routes this winter with our detailed trail guides and important winter safety information.
Hurricane Ridge in Olympic Nationwide Park

Artist Level, Mount Baker Space

  • Spherical-trip distance: as much as 6 miles 
  • Elevation Acquire: 1200 ft
  • Problem: Onerous

Because the world file holder for largest annual snowfall quantity, Mount Baker is a given as a chief snowshoeing vacation spot. And some of the stunning locations for snowshoeing in Washington is Artist Level. The world earned its identify due to the extremely photogenic meadows crammed with summer season wildflowers, backed by the towering rock summit of Mount Shuksan and glacier-crowned Mount Baker. However many really feel the realm is much more stunning and worthy of replica on movie or canvas when shrouded with snow. 

The route begins within the car parking zone above the ski space tons. Head up the slope to the south and simply previous the ski runs, flip proper and begin a gradual climb to the go. The route climbs simply 500 ft from the parking space to 4700-foot Austin Go, however after the go, the route heads extra steeply upward. Climb the open meadows to the decrease finish of Kulshan Ridge, at in regards to the 2-mile mark from the car parking zone. Lower than a quarter-mile additional on, you’ll high out at Artist Level and its sweeping panoramic views. Look east to Mount Shuksan and tip your head upwards to the west to pure on the hovering summit of Mount Baker. To the southwest are the Coleman Pinnacle towers.

To increase your trekking, push on previous Artist Level to the left to comply with Kulshan Ridge because it rolls eastward to Huntoon Level. From this promontory, look east into the expanse of North Cascades Nationwide Park.

To get there, from Bellingham drive east on State Route 542 (Mount Baker Freeway) to the highway finish, about 55 miles, on the higher car parking zone of the Mount Baker Ski Space. 

Person snowshoeing at Artist Point, Mount Baker // Explore the best Washington snowshoeing routes this winter with our detailed trail guides and important winter safety information.
Artist Level, Mount Baker

Bagley Lake, Mount Baker space

  • Spherical-trip distance: as much as 2.5 miles 
  • Elevation Acquire: 300 ft
  • Problem: Simple

The Bagley Lake route begins excessive on Mount Baker and maintains a reasonably constant elevation alongside its size, making this one of many best excessive alpine Washington snowshoe routes you’ll discover. 

Mount Baker presents a few of the most stunning alpine surroundings on the earth, and for snowshoers, it presents the added enticement of alpine adventures with little elevation acquire. Additionally, due to the excessive elevation, the snow right here tends to be lighter and drier than the traditional Cascade snowpack, so snowshoers can discover rolling meadows of pillowy snow above timberline with beautiful views of the North Cascades vary. 

The route begins on the highest car parking zone on the Mount Baker Ski Space and traverses throughout open slopes into the Bagley Lake Basin. You’ll encounter the broad flat plain of frozen Decrease Bagley Lake in only a quarter mile. Skirting the east fringe of the lake (please keep away from crossing the lakes—like all Cascade Mountain lakes, the ice cowl ought to by no means be trusted along with your weight) leads route upslope to the higher lake basin. Grey jays (a.okay.a. camprobber jays) usually present firm right here, anticipating any handouts or lunch scraps from visiting people. Please resist the urge to feed the birds

After getting into the higher lake basin, the popular snowshoe route skirts alongside a low ridge behind which lays Terminal Lake. Flip east after which north to finish a loop down the backbone of this open ridge to return to your ready automotive.

To get there, from Bellingham drive east on State Route 542 (Mount Baker Freeway) to the about 55 miles to the higher car parking zone of the Mount Baker Ski Space, signed Bagley Lakes Trailhead.

Snowy mountains and trails at Bagley Lake // Explore the best Washington snowshoeing routes this winter with our detailed trail guides and important winter safety information.
Snowshoeing towards Bagley Lake

Skyline Lake, Stevens Go space

  • Spherical-trip distance: as much as 3.5 miles 
  • Elevation Acquire: 1100 ft
  • Problem: Average

Stevens Go is the northern-most cross-Cascade freeway saved open year-round. That, coupled with some spectacular trails and routes, makes it an incredible entry hall for Washington snowshoers. The path to Skyline Lake climbs north away from Stevens Go to a ridgetop lake with superior views south to Mount Rainier and north to Glacier Peak.  

The route climbs from the ski space car parking zone on the north aspect of the freeway. The path begins on an sometimes groomed highway main previous quite a few small skier cabins on the sting of the forest above the freeway. A couple of quarter mile into the trek, the groomed observe tapers off to the east, however your route leads straight uphill to the north. Hug the bushes on the west aspect of the open slope in regards to the groomed highway – sticking near the bushes reduces your avalanche threat and minimizes conferences between uphill snowshoer and downhill telemark skiers. 

Because the route crests the ridge close to the 5000-foot stage, the slope ranges off right into a broad meadow among the many bushes. Proceed north alongside this clearing whereas having fun with the views. Look south and, on clear chilly days, the Stevens Go Ski Space seems to be simply out of arm’s attain. The community or open runs seem as a spiderweb forged over the slopes on the alternative aspect of the freeway. Past the ski space, search for the jagged crest of Mount Stuart – a large granite wall trying over the Alpine Lakes Wilderness to the south.

As you cross the meadow, keep left and head for a tall metal mobile phone tower. Go the tower and proceed to climb. In one other half mile, the ridge high route leads by a forest grove to the shores of Skyline Lake. That is your vacation spot, and for security, it’s all the time a good suggestion to skirt the lake’s shore relatively than threat crossing the ice. The mixture of typically gentle winters and the volcanic nature of the Cascade Vary makes all lake ice suspect. Even when temperatures are chilly sufficient lengthy sufficient to freeze a lake stable, the geothermal exercise beneath the mountains creates a variety of heat and sizzling springs, a few of which might spout out of the bottom in the course of a lake, holding it hotter than you may anticipate. In impact, these unseen heat springs typically soften the floor ice from beneath.

To get there, from Everett drive east on U.S. Freeway 2 to the summit of Stevens Go. Park within the ski space parking tons on the north aspect of the freeway.

Group snowshoeing to Skyline Lake // Explore the best Washington snowshoeing routes this winter with our detailed trail guides and important winter safety information.
Snowshoeing towards Skyline Lake. Picture: Dan Nelson

Kendall Peak, Snoqualmie Go space

  • Spherical-trip distance: as much as 9 miles 
  • Elevation Acquire: 1600 ft
  • Problem: Average/Onerous

Although the path to Kendall Peak climbs relentlessly, the pitch is gradual, making this possibility for first-time snowshoers on the lookout for winter exercise. The path leads up previous logging roads to excessive on the flank of Kendall Peak, which looms over the north aspect of Snoqualmie Go. The route ultimately results in the mountainside basin of Kendall Lakes (5,675 ft), however trekkers can trim the journey to any size they’re snug with by merely turning again at any of the numerous scenic overlooks alongside the way in which. 

The route begins from the western fringe of decrease Gold Creek Valley on an previous logging highway that’s closely utilized by each snowshoers and backcountry skiers. The observe climbs steeply for a short pitch, then moderates as the trail slices by an previous clearcut a couple of half-mile in. The clearcut (winter meadow) presents adventurous snowshoers the possibility to discover on their very own, heading north, straight up the slope. Extra cautious and energy-conserving trekkers could keep on with the highway because it meanders up the slope by some extensive switchbacks. The highway route had the additional advantage of offering handy stopping locations – every nook – to pause and respect the wintry views to the south. Gold Creek basin, the jap finish of the Summit Ski Space may be seen, with the majority of Mount Catherine marking the horizon. 

At almost 2 miles out, the highway splits with our route heading off to the correct – the left fork makes a pleasant outing, too, because it results in one other broad meadow with grander views of the Snoqualmie Go panoramic vista. However to go towards the lakes basin, keep proper because the highway leads east up and over a low ridge backbone earlier than bending again to the north. From right here, the highway switches backwards and forwards by dense forest for a few miles earlier than breaking out to views as soon as extra. 

Benefit from the views right here earlier than turning again or urgent on. The ultimate pitch to the lakes basin leads away from the roadway and up an open, considerably uncovered, ridge crest. If you happen to make it to the basin, cease on the edge – the lakes, particularly the higher lake, are nestled in a deep cirque with avalanche-prone partitions. 

To get there, from Seattle drive east on Interstate 90 over Snoqualmie Go to exit 54, 2 miles east of the go’s summit. Exit I-90, flip left, and cross below the freeway to succeed in the Gold Creek SnoPark just some hundred ft north of the freeway interchange. 

Group snowshoeing to Kendall Peak // Explore the best Washington snowshoeing routes this winter with our detailed trail guides and important winter safety information.
Snowshoeing to Kendall Peak. Picture: Dan Nelson

Gold Creek Ponds, Snoqualmie Go space

  • Spherical-trip distance: as much as 2.5 miles 
  • Elevation Acquire: 100 ft
  • Problem: Simple

For novices and/or households with small children, Gold Creek Ponds makes a really perfect Washington snowshoeing vacation spot. The terrain is flat but scenic, the route is well accessible from the Seattle metropolitan space, and there’s a ski space with quite a few lodges throughout the freeway that gives loads of choices for after-adventure snacks and drinks.

The path begins from the Gold Creek SnoPark and leads up Forest Street 144 because it runs north into the broad Gold Creek Valley. The highway runs by a dense stand of forest for a couple of hundred yards earlier than the bushes skinny after which give approach to a broad meadow. Angle to the left (west) and hike into the Gold Creek Ponds basin. Through the summer season months, that is the location of a pleasant picnic space and paved interpretive path. When snow blankets the realm, although, it’s all meadows, small lakes, and views. As you cross the summer season parking space, keep to the correct as you strategy the lakes to comply with the overall path of the interpretive path. By taking a counterclockwise strategy to circling the lakes, you give your self the very best views alongside the way in which. Kendall Peak towers over Gold Creek Valley to the west-northwest and the ragged crest of Rampart Ridge marks the jap wall of the valley.

The route across the ponds ambles alongside a willow-lined creek to the north finish of the pond basin. Your greatest views up the valley may be discovered right here, in addition to grand views south throughout the lower of Snoqualmie Go to the Mount Catherine and the white ribbons of the ski space run. You may take pleasure in these views as you full a loop of the ponds, venturing out into the meadows as you go to discover the instant surroundings and snowy panorama. As you discover although, beware.  The broad expanse of the flat pond floor appears inviting, however risks await any who enterprise out onto the ice. Typically talking, ice doesn’t type thick sufficient in lots of Cascade lakes to be protected for human weight, and this route sits at simply over 3,000 ft elevation, which means the temperatures by no means drop low sufficient to get create a thick ice cowl on the water.  

To get there, from Seattle drive east on Interstate 90 over Snoqualmie Go to exit 54, 2 miles east of the go’s summit. Exit I-90, flip left, and cross below the freeway to succeed in the Gold Creek SnoPark just some hundred ft north of the freeway interchange. 

Snow covered mountains at Gold Creek Valley // Explore the best Washington snowshoeing routes this winter with our detailed trail guides and important winter safety information.
Gold Creek Valley

Reflection Lake, Mount Rainier Nationwide Park

  • Spherical-trip distance: 3.5 miles 
  • Elevation Acquire: 560 ft
  • Problem: Average-Troublesome

The path to Reflection Lake offers good native surroundings, however no grand vistas – till the top. The lake basin is the payoff. Through the summer season months, this little lake is among the hottest locations for guests to {photograph} the mountain. The lake sits alongside the first highway inside the park and sports activities wonderful views of the higher mountain, framed by broad meadows. 

A lot of the snowshoe route follows that widespread roadway, nevertheless it begins within the bushes close to the Narada Falls viewing platform.  From the parking space, angle proper previous the realm’s restrooms and upkeep shed.  Guests who’ve finished their homework on present avalanche circumstances and located the snow to be steady (and never too deep) could climb the steep, open slope immediately forward to succeed in the primary path. That route, although, may be very steep and strenuous, and if there’s a whisper of snow instability it needs to be bypassed.

As an alternative, veer left previous the buildings and comply with a set of blazes as the trail traverses the forested slope. A couple of hundred yards into the trek, a brief climb results in a break within the bushes and a large, open ribbon of snow. That is your path. In the summertime, that is the traffic-heavy Stevens Canyon Street however in winter, the area of skiers and snowshoers.  Comply with the highway east as winds across the flank of Inspiration Level. The going is simple as there may be little to no elevation acquire at this level because the route cuts by lush forest. 

At simply over 1.5 miles, the highway enters the broad meadow that cradles Reflection Lake. The highway sticks to the south aspect of the lake, beneath the jagged crest of Pinnacle Peak. Wanting throughout the frozen lake, the hulking mass of Mount Rainier dominates the view. You may benefit from the view of Rainier as you discover the lake basin. Whilst you may see tracks throughout the lake itself, we urge warning. That is an energetic volcano, and all that geothermal energy retains heat springs effervescent round and in many of the lakes within the space. In brief, heat water effervescent up from the lake backside can create harmful skinny spots within the lake ice.

To get there, drive east from Tacoma on State Route 7 and bear left onto SR 706 on the city of Elbe. Proceed east by the Nisqually Entrance of the park and proceed to the Narada Falls View Space car parking zone.

Snowy scene at Reflection Lake in Mt Rainier National Park // Explore the best Washington snowshoeing routes this winter with our detailed trail guides and important winter safety information.
Reflection Lake, Mt. Rainier Nationwide Park

Panorama Level, Mount Rainier Nationwide Park

  • Spherical-trip distance: 5 miles
  • Elevation Acquire: 1300 ft
  • Problem: Average-Troublesome

Paradise – an extremely widespread vacation spot for summer season guests to Washington – features a sprawling community of wildflower meadows and rugged alpine terrain. The hordes of summer season guests are restricted to slender, hardened trails to attenuate injury to the delicate meadows. However come winter, these wildflowers are safely asleep below a deep blanket of snow. Most years, that snow layer could also be 20 or extra ft deep! So, snowshoers can safely roam anyplace within the expansive meadowlands of Paradise.

To benefit from an outing right here, set a course to among the finest viewpoints within the area – Panorama Level. From the Paradise parking tons, enter the meadows close to the information service constructing and head north straight towards the mountain itself. You’ll have to skirt across the left aspect of the groomed-snow play space (a well-liked sledding/inside tubing website for households) earlier than chopping proper to comply with the west aspect of the tree-covered crown of Alta Vista peak. The route climbs considerably steeply right here by meadows and skinny tree cowl. Cease typically to look forward on the mighty mountain, in addition to behind on the jagged line of Pinnacle Peak, The Fort, Unicorn Peak, and Boundary Peak marking the north finish of the Tatoosh Vary. 

After cresting the saddle on the higher finish of Alta Vista ridge, veer proper and climb alongside the ridge crest main straight towards Mount Rainier. The route parallels Nisqually Glacier, seen within the deep valley to your left. At about 1.5 miles, the route crosses a small plateau often known as Glacier Vista. If you’re drained at this level, flip again right here understanding you’ve got skilled a few of the greatest views of the route. However sturdy snowshoers can press on, climbing one other mile or so – typically very steeply – to the rocky promontory often known as Panorama Level. This rocky perch is excessive sufficient on the mountain that, on clear days, you’ll be able to see the craggy summits of the Goat Rocks Wilderness Space in addition to the broad cone of Mount Adams to the southeast.

On your return to Paradise, full your loop by traversing east to the higher flank of Mazama Ridge, then drop down that ridge wall into the higher Edith Creek basin. The basin is extensive, and you’ll decide your individual path when you enter it, however use warning when making the primary drop into the basin. For the most secure route, traverse out a minimum of a half mile from Panorama Level to skirt the steepest slopes, that are all the time closely corniced. As soon as previous the apparent cornices and steep drops, head down the slope towards Edith Creek and comply with all of it the way in which right down to Paradise, passing below the jap face of Alta Vista.

To get there, comply with the Street to Paradise and park within the Paradise Parking Heaps close to the Skyline Trailhead.

Snow covered peaks at Panorama Point // Explore the best Washington snowshoeing routes this winter with our detailed trail guides and important winter safety information.
Panorama Level. Picture: Dan Nelson

Allow Data

The entire routes right here begin on federal lands – both US Forest Service lands or Nationwide Park Service lands. For these trailheads, a Federal Lands Go is required. A Northwest Forest Go may be bought yearly or for sooner or later and is legitimate in any respect Nationwide Forests in Washington and Oregon. The Forest Go is NOT legitimate at Nationwide Parks. For entry there, passes – when wanted – can be found on the particular park entrance gate. A greater possibility, although, is to buy an annual America the Stunning Go, which is nice for 1 yr and can be utilized nationwide at federal leisure lands, together with USFS lands, Nationwide Parks, U.S. Bureau of Land Administration (BLM) lands, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife lands. 

For maintained winter parking areas on Forest Service lands, guests may also want a SnoPark Allow offered by Washington State Parks. The charges from these permits are used to pay for the plowing wanted to maintain these trailheads open and accessible in addition to to carry out grooming on some routes. SnoPark permits for non-motorized customers value $25 for a day allow, or $50 for an annual allow (legitimate Nov. 1 by April 30 every season).

We hope this helps you propose an incredible Washington snowshoeing journey this winter. Do you’ve got any questions on snowshoeing or have any widespread routes we missed? Go away us a remark beneath!

Explore the best Washington snowshoeing routes this winter with our detailed trail guides and important winter safety information.

Written by
Dan Nelson

Over the previous 30 years, Dan has written for Males’s Journal, Backpacker, Outdoors, Nationwide Geographic Journey, USA At present, CNN, The Seattle Instances, The Washington Trails Affiliation, and different publications, together with his personal on-line journal, AdventuresNW.web. He has authored 17 guidebooks, served as contributing editor to five Nationwide Geographic Books on Nationwide Parks, and launched quite a few widespread guidebook sequence with The Mountaineers Books together with the Day Climbing sequence, Snowshoe Routes sequence, and Greatest Hikes with Canines sequence.

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