Swauk Creek Snowshoe Trails
Hike of the Week:
December 24, 2007
Location: Blewett Pass areaDistance: 57 miles of trails in the non-motorized area
Elevation: varies depending on the trail
Map: Green Trails Liberty No. 210
In the heart of Blewett Pass snowmobile country is a glorious area designated just for skis, snowshoes and feet. More than 50 miles of marked trails offer something for everyone - easy and difficult, long and short. To describe just one here would short-change all of the rest.
The Wenatchee-Okanogan National Forest produces a brochure that features five trails and a map that shows the winter recreation area. Be sure to look at both pages of the pdf for all of the information. Note that the difficulty rating for each trail is for cross-country skiers. And arm yourself with your own topo map of the region, Dan Nelson's Snowshoe Routes: Washington, and a knowledge of avalanche conditions and weather for a more complete picture.
You can choose to poke around meadows, meander along creeks or head high to capture views of the Stuart Range and Enchantments. Some options:
- Swauk Campground/Porky Basin: Choice of an easy 'shoe around the campgrounds or a longer trek with views up to Pipe Creek. Leaves from the Swauk Campground.
- Swauk Meadows: Easy to moderate four mile snowshoe loop through meadows and trees. Leaves from Pipe Creek or Blewett Pass Sno-Parks.
- Pipe Creek: Intermediate trek along Pipe Creek and up to a saddle with views of the Diamond Head promontory. Leave from Pipe Creek Sno-Park.
- Diamond Head: A more difficult snowshoe up to a low saddle and along the ridgeline to attain spectacular views of the Stuart Range. The trail skirts the edge of the motorized area, with more interaction with snow machines. Also crosses a couple of avalanche chutes, so be careful! From Blewett Pass Sno-Park.
- Haney Meadow: Moderately difficult trail through meadows and forests with avalanche potential - save this one for optimal snow conditions. From Blewett Pass Sno-Park.
This area sports some of Washington's best snow conditions. Often when the western slope of the Cascades is a mat of rain-on-snow, this eastern slope is fluffy and perfect. Now go and have fun!
For more information:
- Wenatchee-Okanogan Forest: website; brochure & map.
- Snowshoe Routes: Washington, by Dan A. Nelson, Mountaineers Books
- Avalanche Hotline: (206) 526-6677; website.
Blewett Pass is at the crest of U.S. Highway 97 between Wenatchee and Cle Elum. There are three Sno-Parks (fee area) where you can begin your excursion: Blewett Pass is a multiple use Sno-Park; Pipe Creek and Swauk Campground are for non-motorized users only. List of Sno-Park vendors.