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Take a Guided Snowshoe Hike

Posted by Loren Drummond at Dec 16, 2013 05:15 PM |
Guided snowshoe hikes are a great, safe way to get to know Washington's trails in winter. From beginner programs to more advanced outings, the following adventures are a great way to try snowshoeing or explore a new area of the state. Learn a new skill (like avalanche awareness or winter photography) or just get outside for the day.
Take a Guided Snowshoe Hike

Take a ranger-led snowshoe hike this winter. Photo by j brink at Big Four Ice Caves.

Guided snowshoe hikes are a great, safe way to get to know Washington's trails in winter. From beginner programs to more advanced outings, the following programs are a great way to try snowshoeing or explore a new area of the state. With an ranger or expert leading the way, learn a new skill (like avalanche awareness or winter photography) or just get outside for the day.

Below is information for guided snowshoe programs at:

  • Snoqualmie Pass
  • Stevens Pass (Skykomish Ranger District)
  • Mount Baker Ranger District
  • Big Four Ice Caves (Darrington Ranger District)
  • Mount St. Helens
  • Mount Rainier National Park


Some private companies and resorts also offer guided snowshoe programs.

Information, Sno-Park permits and more

Whether you take a guided hike or want to plan your own snowshoe adventure, get more information about winter recreation information, current weather and avalanche forecasts, some beginner snowshoe trails, and Sno-Park Permit information.

> More about Sno-Park and permits you need in winter.
> Find more resources in WTA's Winter Recreation Guide

Guided winter snowshoe walks on Snoqualmie Pass, Stevens Pass, near Mount Baker and on the Mountain Loop Highway

Get outdoors and learn about winter ecology snowshoeing on the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest January through March. No experience is necessary and the Forest Service provides snowshoes. Participants should wear layered and insulated clothing, hats and gloves with sturdy, waterproof shoes or boots, hats and gloves. To offset the costs of the program a donation is requested.

Colorful hats Mowich snowshoe
You can rent your snowshoes on most guided walks, but you should dress to stay warm and dry. Photo by snow Cat.

 

Snoqualmie Pass

Beginning in January, Forest Service Naturalists at the Snoqualmie Pass Visitor Information Center will offer a variety of guided outdoor winter walks and activities. Reservations are required to participate.

To make a reservation, call 509-852-1062 before December 19. From December 20 until the end of the season, the visitor center will take reservations Thursday - Sunday from 8:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. at 425-434-6111. Trips for special events and school groups can also be scheduled.

Meet 15 minutes before your scheduled walk at the Snoqualmie Pass Visitor’s Center off I-90, exit 52. A donation of $15 is suggested of for adults, $10 for youth 16 and under, and $25 per person for the half-day hikes and photography outings.

Read the hike descriptions provided by the Forest Service, and sign up today:

90 minute walk: 1 mile roundtrip
Saturday and Sundays 10 a.m., 11:30 a.m. & 1 p.m.
Suggested donation: Adults $15, youth 16 and under $10
Learn about the winter ecosystem, wildlife and safety on this one-mile loop walk through opulent old-growth forest.

Extended walk: 5 mile roundtrip
Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays 9 a.m.
Suggested donation: $25 per person
Experience Commonwealth Basin in the winter surrounded by the Cascade crest peaks. Bring a lunch, a well-stocked day pack, extra clothing and water; you will be out from about 10 a.m. - 3 p.m.

Photography walk: 4-5 hours
Dates: 2/15, 3/1, 3/15, 3/29 at 9:30 a.m.
Suggested donation: $25 per person
Geared for photography enthusiasts of all abilities. Commonwealth Creek offers intriguing image possibilities with ice falls, cool vapors and swirling dark waters. Your guide will discuss light, composition and exposure. Bring lunch, this outing lasts four to five hours.
Participants are encouraged to bring their own film or digital cameras and extra batteries. In order to reduce your own exposure, please carry a well-stocked backpack with lunch, as this trip usually lasts about 4 - 5 hours.

Kids in Snow! - 90 min. family snowshoe
Beginning January 18, Saturdays at 1:00 p.m.
Suggested donation:  Adults $15, youth 16 and under $10
Earn a Junior Ranger Snow membership and badge! Learn about winter tracking, how plants and animals survive through the winter and check out some hearty winter critters on this approximately 90-minute walk.

Avalanche Awareness Walk
Dates: 2/8, 2/22, 3/8, 3/22
Donations of $15 per participant are suggested for this program.

Join the Northwest Avalanche Center and the Forest Service for a snowshoe walk where the focus is entirely Avalanche Awareness.  Professionals from the Northwest Avalanche Center will be leading and presenting these walks. Call for more details.

Stevens Pass

Both of these guided hikes will be held every Saturday and Sunday from January 4 to March 1. Trips for special events and school groups can also be scheduled.

To make a reservations, call the Skykomish Ranger District at 360-677-2414 Meet at the Forest Service Guard Station by Parking Lot A at Stevens Pass. Sultan Shuttle offers transportation from Sultan to the resort. (Check for fees and schedules.)

Junior Snow Ranger
10:30 a.m. & 1:30 p.m.
Suggested donation:  Adults $15, youth 16 and under $10
Earn a Junior Ranger Snow membership and badge! Learn about winter tracking, how plants and animals survive through the winter and check out some hearty winter critters.

Trek with a Ranger
11 a.m. & 2 p.m.
Suggested donation:  Adults $15, youth 16 and under $10
Learn about the winter ecosystem, wildlife and safety on this 90 minute guided nature discovery tour along the Pacific Crest Trail.

Mount Baker Ranger District

To make a reservation, call 360-599-9572, weekends 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. or e-mail mwidner@fs.fed.us. Meet at the Glacier Public Service Center, milepost 34 on the Mount Baker Hwy., State Route 542. Groups will leave from there to the snowshoe walk location along the Hannegan Road, Heather Meadows or another setting in the Mt. Baker District area. Reservations required.

Ranger Guided Snowshoe Walk
Fridays - 10 a.m. Feb. 7, 14, 21

Sundays - 10 a.m.  Feb. 23, March 2, 9, 16

Mountain Loop Highway - Big Four Ice Caves

To make a reservation, call the Darrington Ranger District at 360-436-1155. Meet at Verlot Public Service Center, 11 miles east of Granite Falls on the Mountain Loop Highway, for orientation. Groups will leave from there to Deer Creek and begin the four-mile, approximately five hour round-trip snowshoe hike to the Big 4 picnic shelter. Participants should be age 16 or older and in good shape. Snowshoes are provided. A $20 donation is suggested. Reservations are required

Big Four Ice Cave Snowshoe Walk
February 1 - March 2, weekends, 8:30 a.m – 2 p.m.
This is a great opportunity for those who have never used snowshoes before or anyone interested in learning about the amazing ecology and human history of this low elevation winter wonderland. Pack a lunch and bring an insulated mug of hot chocolate for the Big Four picnic shelter where we can listen for the crack of avalanches cascading off the massive face of Big Four.

Guided snowshoe hikes at Mount St. Helens

The Mount St. Helens Institute is also offering guided snowshoe adventures starting in January. Registration is required ($30) and does not cover the cost of a Sno-Park Pass. Rentals are available.

June Lake snowshoe
A snowshoe at June Lake. Photo by marmotwhistler.

Ranger-led snowshoe hikes at Mount Rainier

Join a park ranger to learn the art of snowshoeing and discover how plants, animals, and people adapt to the challenging winter conditions at Mount Rainier.

When: First-come, first-served guided snowshoe walks begin n December 24, 2013. Snow conditions permitting, the walks are generally offered on Saturdays, Sundays, holidays, and daily during winter break from December 24 to January 1.

After early January, walks are only offered on Saturdays and Sundays, and holidays. Walks start at 11:45 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. and meet inside the Jackson Visitor Center (near the information desk) in Paradise. Sign-ups begin 1 hour in advance of scheduled time.

Distance & Time: Snowshoe walks cover approximately 1.5 miles in 2 hours.

Group size: Snowshoe walks are limited to 25 people, eight years old or older, on a first-come, first-served basis. A sign-up sheet is available at the Jackson Visitor Center information desk one hour before each walk. All snowshoe walk participants must be present at sign-up.

Equipment: For an enjoyable snowshoe walk, you will need to wear sturdy, waterproof boots, dress in layers, and have a hat, gloves, suitable boots, sunglasses and sunscreen. Snowshoes are provided, or visitors may use their own. A donation of $4 per person is asked to help defray the cost of snowshoe maintenance.

>> More information on winter recreation at Mount Rainier National Park.

Winter recreation at Olympic National Park

In the past, Olympic National Park has offered ranger-led snowshoe walks, but due to budget uncertainties, park officials have said they will not offer them this winter.

There are still plenty of great ways to enjoy Olympic National Park in the winter, though, including snowshoeing Hurricane Hill on your own.

Hurricane Hill snowshoe group
Snowshoers at Hurricane Hill. Photo by Nutmeg.

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