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8 Superb Washington Snowshoeing Routes – Bearfoot Concept


Although the Puget Sound Lowlands have a status for delicate, 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 incessantly high 1,000 inches – that’s 83 toes of snow! The 2 peaks routinely alternate as world document holders for many annual snowfall. At present, Mount Baker holds the world document at 1,140 inches (95 toes!), beating Mt. Rainier’s earlier document of 1,122 inches (93.5 toes!). 

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

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

Winter Highway Situations in Washington

Although there tends to be quite a lot 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 referred to 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 just a few corridors of journey. Many of the cross-Cascade highways stay open, although the excessive, slim route over Chinook Move closes every November on the entrance to Mount Rainier Nationwide Park. Nevertheless, the Highway 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 verify highway circumstances earlier than heading out in your Washington snowshoeing journey.

Due to the variability of snowpacks from 12 months to 12 months (and even each day), these advisable routes could fluctuate in accessibility, issue, and even size. The important thing to profiting from your winter adventures is checking for updates earlier than you head out and staying open to the thought of rapidly altering plans and expectations!

Washington Snowshoeing Trailheads — Mapped

Finest Washington Snowshoeing Routes

Hurricane Ridge, Olympic Nationwide Park

  • Spherical-trip distance: as much as 5 miles 
  • Elevation Achieve: 800 toes
  • Issue: Simple to Tough

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 provides 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 via 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 revel in picnic tables with expansive views of the park. It is a good turnaround spot for a reasonable outing. However for one of the 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 choice will probably be to stay to the slim ridge crest to climb close to the highest.

If the snow is closely crusted or icy, even snowshoes with heavy cleats is not going to be sufficient to make sure secure footing to the summit so don’t set the highest as your final vacation spot. All the 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. Trying 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 all the way down to Mount Olympus and the spectacular Bailey Vary to the south. 

Winter tenting is allowed on Hurricane Ridge with a allow – remember to 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 Highway to the Hurricane Ridge Customer Heart. Park close to the lodge and check in 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 Achieve: 1200 toes
  • Issue: Laborious

Because the world document holder for largest annual snowfall quantity, Mount Baker is a given as a major snowshoeing vacation spot. And probably the most stunning locations for snowshoeing in Washington is Artist Level. The realm earned its title due to the extremely photogenic meadows full of 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 copy on movie or canvas when shrouded with snow. 

The route begins within the parking zone above the ski space heaps. Head up the slope to the south and simply previous the ski runs, flip proper and begin a gradual climb to the cross. The route climbs simply 500 toes from the parking space to 4700-foot Austin Move, however after the cross, 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 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 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 Achieve: 300 toes
  • Issue: 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 provides a few of the most stunning alpine surroundings on the planet, and for snowshoers, it provides 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 conventional 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 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 together with your weight) leads route upslope to the higher lake basin. Grey jays (a.ok.a. camprobber jays) sometimes present firm right here, waiting for 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 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 Move space

  • Spherical-trip distance: as much as 3.5 miles 
  • Elevation Achieve: 1100 toes
  • Issue: Reasonable

Stevens Move 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 Move to a ridgetop lake with superior views south to Mount Rainier and north to Glacier Peak.  

The route climbs from the ski space parking zone on the north facet of the freeway. The path begins on an occasionally groomed highway main previous plenty of small skier cabins on the sting of the forest above the freeway. A few quarter mile into the trek, the groomed monitor tapers off to the east, however your route leads straight uphill to the north. Hug the timber on the west facet of the open slope in regards to the groomed highway – sticking near the timber 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 timber. Proceed north alongside this clearing whereas having fun with the views. Look south and, on clear chilly days, the Stevens Move Ski Space seems to be simply out of arm’s attain. The community or open runs seem as a spiderweb solid over the slopes on the other facet of the freeway. Past the ski space, search for the jagged crest of Mount Stuart – an enormous granite wall wanting over the Alpine Lakes Wilderness to the south.

As you cross the meadow, keep left and head for a tall metal mobile phone tower. Move the tower and proceed to climb. In one other half mile, the ridge high route leads via 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 reasonably than threat crossing the ice. The mixture of usually delicate 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 strong, the geothermal exercise under the mountains creates quite a lot of heat and scorching springs, a few of which may spout out of the bottom in the midst of a lake, protecting it hotter than you may count on. 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 Move. Park within the ski space parking heaps on the north facet 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. Photograph: Dan Nelson

Kendall Peak, Snoqualmie Move space

  • Spherical-trip distance: as much as 9 miles 
  • Elevation Achieve: 1600 toes
  • Issue: Reasonable/Laborious

Although the path to Kendall Peak climbs relentlessly, the pitch is gradual, making this choice for first-time snowshoers searching for winter exercise. The path leads up previous logging roads to excessive on the flank of Kendall Peak, which looms over the north facet of Snoqualmie Move. The route finally results in the mountainside basin of Kendall Lakes (5,675 toes), 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 monitor climbs steeply for a quick pitch, then moderates as the trail slices via an previous clearcut a couple of half-mile in. The clearcut (winter meadow) provides adventurous snowshoers the possibility to discover on their very own, heading north, straight up the slope. Extra cautious and energy-conserving trekkers could stick with the highway because it meanders up the slope via 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 japanese 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 Move 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 forwards and backwards via 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. In case you 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 Move to exit 54, 2 miles east of the cross’s summit. Exit I-90, flip left, and cross beneath the freeway to succeed in the Gold Creek SnoPark only a few hundred toes 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. Photograph: Dan Nelson

Gold Creek Ponds, Snoqualmie Move space

  • Spherical-trip distance: as much as 2.5 miles 
  • Elevation Achieve: 100 toes
  • Issue: Simple

For novices and/or households with small youngsters, Gold Creek Ponds makes a 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 Highway 144 because it runs north into the broad Gold Creek Valley. The highway runs via a dense stand of forest for just a few hundred yards earlier than the timber skinny after which give method 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 positioning 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 method the lakes to comply with the final path of the interpretive path. By taking a counterclockwise method to circling the lakes, you give your self one of the 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 japanese 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 Move to the Mount Catherine and the white ribbons of the ski space run. You possibly can take pleasure in these views as you full a loop of the ponds, venturing out into the meadows as you go to discover the rapid surroundings and snowy panorama. As you discover although, beware.  The broad expanse of the flat pond floor seems inviting, however risks await any who enterprise out onto the ice. Usually talking, ice doesn’t kind thick sufficient in lots of Cascade lakes to be secure for human weight, and this route sits at simply over 3,000 toes elevation, that 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 Move to exit 54, 2 miles east of the cross’s summit. Exit I-90, flip left, and cross beneath the freeway to succeed in the Gold Creek SnoPark only a few hundred toes 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 Achieve: 560 toes
  • Issue: Reasonable-Tough

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 without doubt one of 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 in style roadway, nevertheless it begins within the timber close to the Narada Falls viewing platform.  From the parking space, angle proper previous the realm’s restrooms and upkeep shed.  Guests who’ve carried out their homework on present avalanche circumstances and located the snow to be secure (and never too deep) could climb the steep, open slope instantly forward to succeed in the primary path. That route, although, could 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. Just a few hundred yards into the trek, a brief climb results in a break within the timber and a large, open ribbon of snow. That is your path. In the summertime, that is the traffic-heavy Stevens Canyon Highway 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’s little to no elevation acquire at this level because the route cuts via lush forest. 

At simply over 1.5 miles, the highway enters the broad meadow that cradles Reflection Lake. The highway sticks to the south facet of the lake, under the jagged crest of Pinnacle Peak. Trying throughout the frozen lake, the hulking mass of Mount Rainier dominates the view. You possibly can 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 lively volcano, and all that geothermal energy retains heat springs effervescent round and in a lot of the lakes within the space. Briefly, 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 via the Nisqually Entrance of the park and proceed to the Narada Falls View Space 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 Achieve: 1300 toes
  • Issue: Reasonable-Tough

Paradise – an extremely in style 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 slim, hardened trails to reduce injury to the delicate meadows. However come winter, these wildflowers are safely asleep beneath a deep blanket of snow. Most years, that snow layer could also be 20 or extra toes deep! So, snowshoers can safely roam anyplace within the expansive meadowlands of Paradise.

To benefit from an outing right here, set a course to the most effective viewpoints within the area – Panorama Level. From the Paradise parking heaps, 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 facet of the groomed-snow play space (a preferred sledding/internal tubing web site for households) earlier than reducing proper to comply with the west facet of the tree-covered crown of Alta Vista peak. The route climbs considerably steeply right here via meadows and skinny tree cowl. Cease usually to look forward on the mighty mountain, in addition to behind on the jagged line of Pinnacle Peak, The Citadel, 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 referred to as Glacier Vista. In case you are drained at this level, flip again right here understanding you might have 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 referred to as Panorama Level. This rocky perch is excessive sufficient on the mountain that, on clear days, you may see the craggy summits of the Goat Rocks Wilderness Space in addition to the broad cone of Mount Adams to the southeast.

In 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 choose your personal path when you enter it, however use warning when making the primary drop into the basin. For the most secure route, traverse out not less than 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 all the way down to Paradise, passing beneath the japanese face of Alta Vista.

To get there, comply with the Highway to Paradise and park within the Paradise Parking Tons 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. Photograph: Dan Nelson

Allow Data

All the routes right here begin on federal lands – both US Forest Service lands or Nationwide Park Service lands. For these trailheads, a Federal Lands Move is required. A Northwest Forest Move may be bought yearly or for sooner or later and is legitimate in any respect Nationwide Forests in Washington and Oregon. The Forest Move is NOT legitimate at Nationwide Parks. For entry there, passes – when wanted – can be found on the particular park entrance gate. A greater choice, although, is to buy an annual America the Lovely Move, which is nice for 1 12 months 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 price $25 for a day allow, or $50 for an annual allow (legitimate Nov. 1 via April 30 every season).

We hope this helps you intend a tremendous Washington snowshoeing journey this winter. Do you might have any questions on snowshoeing or have any in style routes we missed? Depart us a remark under!

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, Exterior, Nationwide Geographic Journey, USA As we speak, CNN, The Seattle Instances, The Washington Trails Affiliation, and different publications, together with his personal on-line journal, AdventuresNW.internet. He has authored 17 guidebooks, served as contributing editor to five Nationwide Geographic Books on Nationwide Parks, and launched plenty of in style guidebook sequence with The Mountaineers Books together with the Day Climbing sequence, Snowshoe Routes sequence, and Finest Hikes with Canines sequence.

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