Great Snowshoe Hikes
This time of year, cabin fever gets the best of many of us hikers. We find ourselves staying at home, leafing through hiking guides, longing for June to come so we can go outside and play in the mountains.
But we need not wait until June! Washington State abounds with snowshoe and cross country skiing opportunities, and snowshoeing is fast becoming a favorite winter recreational activity for many Washington hikers.
Before you go
Check out the resources on our Winter Recreation Info page. It covers how to find a snowshoe route, Sno-Park information and winter safety tips.
Like all mountain winter activities, avalanche risk is a primary concern. Choose routes appropriate for the snow conditions. Better yet, take a class. And always give yourself permission to turn back if the weather turns bad or if you encounter avalanche slopes or cornices.
Where to go
Below is a list of ten of Washington Trails Association's favorite routes throughout the state. Conditions on all of these routes change year-to-year and month-to-month over the winter, so check Trip Reports, weather, and snow conditions before you head out.
Location: Mount Baker Highway
Round Trip: 5.5 miles
Elevation Gain / High Point: 1200' / 5200'
Never failing to live up to its name, Artist Point's winter vistas easily match - and some would argue beat - those enjoyed by summer hikers. Though more challenging than some routes on this list, Artist Point offers experienced snowshoers a delightful outing among the North Cascade's most beautiful terrain.
Location: Blewett Pass
Round Trip: 6.0 miles
Elevation Gain / High Point: 4100' / 4600'
Start high and stay high, with views nearly always within view on this snowshoe road walk from the top of Blewett Pass. This is a great choice for beginners, kids and those who don't want to worry about avalanche risks. Whether you're gazing at Tronsen Ridge spread out before you or at Diamond Head on the other side of the pass, this is a rewarding day trip.
Location: Snoqualmie Pass
Round Trip: 4.0 miles
Elevation Gain / High Point: 400' / 3000'
Just outside the Sno-Park at exit 54 east of Snoqualmie Pass, you'll find lots of great, easy snowshoeing. This is an area popular with cross-country skiers and sledders alike. From Mardee Lake to looming Kendall Peak before you, this is premiere terrain for winter enthusiasts.
Location: Stevens Pass
Round Trip: 3.0 miles
Elevation Gain / High Point: 1100' / 5100'
Dramatic mounds of snow, a frozen lake and sweeping views into the Alpine Lakes and Glacier Peak Wildernesses await snowshoers at. Easily accessed from the Stevens Pass ski area, this steep and rewarding ridge walk is a classic on a sunny day. What's more, no parking passes are required at the trailhead.
in WTA's Hiking Guide, powered by Mountaineers Books.
Location: Olympic National Park
Round Trip: 6.0 miles
Elevation Gain / High Point:800' / 5760'
One of the park's most popular destinations in summer is much quieter in winter. But if it is possible, the views are even more inspiring shrouded in a blanket of snow. Atop Hurricane Hill, snowshoers will be able to take in the majesty of the Olympic Mountains as well as the serenity of the San Juan Islands.
Location: Mount Rainier National Park
Round Trip: 6.0 miles
Elevation Gain / High Point: 900' / 5700'
This trip is incredibly popular with snowshoers, and for good reason. It starts at the Paradise visitor center, following the Stevens Canyon Road - and if you're lucky enough to have a clear day, views of the mountain are stupendous. Other areas in the park worth a try are Reflection & Louise Lakes and Mowich Lakes, both featured in WTA's Snowshoeing Mt. Rainier page. For current conditions, visit Mt. Rainier National Park or call (360) 569-2211.
Read more about Mazama Ridge in WTA's Hiking Guide, powered by Mountaineers Books.
Tieton River Meadows
Location: White Pass
Round Trip: 10.0 miles
Elevation Gain / High Point: 350' / 3500'
Follow an un-plowed forest road as it meanders up the Tieton River Valley and keep on the lookout for elk, fox, martens and other wildlife that thrive in this wilderness area. Along the way you can enjoy views of Old Snow Mountain or explore the wide meadows that line the trail.
Read more about Tieton River Meadows in WTA's Hiking Guide, powered by Mountaineers Books. Like this area and want to try something else? Try out the way to Sand Lake and be sure to write a Trip Report on it!
Location: South of Mount St. Helens
Round Trip: 5.0 miles
Elevation Gain / High Point: 500' / 3100'
Lying just south of Mount Saint Helens, the June Lake trail climbs through a serene landscape of meadows, forests, lakes and streams, all left untouched by the devastating 1980 eruption. Once at the lake, take in the spectacular views and continue along the shore to reach the waterfall on the opposite side.
Read more about June Lake in WTA's Hiking Guide, powered by Mountaineers Books.
Upper River Run
Location: Methow Valley
Round Trip: 7.0 miles
Elevation Gain / High Point: 500' / 2800'
Located in one of the Northwest's prime winter playgrounds, the Methow Valley's Upper River Run is the perfect trail for beginner snowshoers, or those looking for an easy cold-weather jaunt. Following a groomed cross-country ski trail, the Upper River Run rolls through a gentle landscape of meadows, woods and farms and can be combined with numerous connecting trails to either shorten or lengthen the trip.
Read more about Upper River Run in WTA's Hiking Guide, powered by Mountaineers Books.
Location: 25 Miles NE of Spokane
Round Trip: Several Options of 1.5-4 miles
Elevation Gain: from 240' to 1350' feet gain
Though better known as a destination for skiers, Mount Spokane is great place for Eastern Washington snowshoers to get out and play. There are many trails to choose from, and two of the best climb to a CCC Cabin (4 miles roundtrip) where you can warm up inside, and to the top of Mt. Spokane (3 1/4 miles roundtrip), which is also the top of the ski hill and sports a cafeteria. Not exactly a wilderness experience, but lots fun.
Read more about Mount Spokane's snowshoe trails in the trip reports for the area. File a trip report of your adventure once you've visited! Good information, including maps, can also be found on the Friends of Mount Spokane website.