The Nordic Center across from the White Pass Ski Area is a great alternative for those who don't want to zoom downhill. Take it a little slower and soak in the views by snowshoeing around a large lake rife with winter wildlife. With more than 13 kilometers of groomed nordic track, the trails here offer an all-day workout if that's what you seek. Shorter loops can be made of course, and a seasonally established snowshoe trail provides a little more rugged route.
Beginning from the Yurt, cross the groomed track and head toward the lake. Be sure to step over the nordic ski tracks, not in them, and look for cross-country skiers. Look for an orange diamond sign emblazoned with a black snowshoe -- these will be your markers as you make your way around the lake.
The snowshoe track sticks close to the lakeside. Head east past your first marker, and begin your wending way along the side of the lake. The Lake Loop of the groomed trails parallels this track roughly, so you may see skiers to your right as you weave in and out of the forest on the edge of the delightfully named Leech Lake.
At the northeast end of the lake, the groomed trail and snowshoe track meet up briefly to cross a bridge. Here you will see some interpretive signs telling you about the wildlife that can be found in the area. Continue across the bridge and look for the snowshoe track at the junction of two groomed trails. Here you have a decision. If you want to stick to the lake, it's about three-quarters of a mile along the track, and you'll simply continue across the bridge and look for the snowshoe route on your left past the bridge.
If you want more of a workout, head up the hill at the intersection previously mentioned. You're heading on a steeper grade and a usually less-packed trail to Dog Lake and a small waterfall a little more than a half mile away. The trail becomes more forested as you had uphill. You'll cross three groomed trails along the way -- first the Corral Loop, where a summertime horse camp lies buried under snow. The second trail crossing is with the Deer Creek Loop -- an intermediate cross-country trail. Finally, arrive at your third trail junction, where four trails converge.
To your left, The Hill ascends steeply, while straight ahead is the Biathlon Loop and to your right is the Dog Lake Loop. At the groomed trail, turn right and hike for a short distance on the edge (not in the center or on the ski tracks), looking for a trail disappearing into the woods on the opposite side of the road.
Hop onto that trail, heading for those waterfalls! The grade is slightly shallower than what you've been on, and it wends and weaves through large trees and dormant creeks to a last junction. The falls are just down the spur trail to your left.
After enjoying the falls, return to the trail and complete the loop by taking the trail you did not arrive by. This loops back around to the four-trail intersection, and you'll once again hike a short distance on the road to where the snowshoe track resumes. From here, you'll retrace your steps back to the lake and bridge, and look for another snowshoe track entrance on the near side of the bridge. Use this track to complete your circle of the lake and return to the yurt and parking lot.
White Pass Nordic Center
- 1.86 miles, roundtrip
- Elevation Gain
- 250 feet
- Highest Point
- 4,500 feet
Hiking White Pass Nordic Center
White Pass Nordic Center
Map & Directions
Co-ordinates: 46.6397, -121.3924 Open in Google Maps