If you love summer hiking, snowshoeing in Washington during winter adds a new dimension to your favorite trails. You’ll trek to frozen waterfalls, iced-over lakes, and snow-covered forests, and with snowshoes, you won’t have to worry about falling on slippery ice or sinking in deep powder.
To get started with snowshoeing in Washington, visit your local outdoor retailer, like REI, where experts can help you either rent a pair or pick out a good set of beginner shoes. You’ll want to choose a pair that matches the type of trails you plan to tackle in terms of elevation gain. Most beginners stick to easier, flatter trails and don’t need serious crampons built into their snowshoes, for example. Still, if you plan on graduating to tougher trails, consider buying a pair that is meant for moderate trails. They’ll work well on the easy ones, and still be appropriate as you take on bigger challenges. More beginner tips are available here.
For other gear, you’ll want waterproof winter boots that don’t allow melting snow to dampen your socks. As you dress, remember that your body will warm up when you’re snowshoeing. You’ll want to avoid sweating, which can make you dangerously cold in winter. Layer your clothing and don’t let yourself overheat. For more tips on layering in winter, visit the Washington Trails Association’s blog entry on the topic.
Four Easy to Moderate Routes for Snowshoeing in Washington State
- Gold Creek Pond
This gem near Snoqualmie Pass is within easy reach for Puget Sound residents getting started with snowshoeing. The flat trail encircles the frozen lake, which sits in a bowl of big, snowy peaks. The four-mile trail is quiet and picturesque—and easy to follow.
- Blewett Pass/Wenatchee Crest
For a slightly longer hike—that’s still great for beginners—head to the Wenatchee area’s Blewett Pass, where the flat trail traverses high country full of views. The trail runs six miles round trip, but you can do as much or as little as you like; views are ever-present, so it’s rewarding from the start.
- Hurricane Hill
Venture out to the snowy Olympic Mountains for this classic winter trek. The summer crowds disperse this time of year, so you’ll likely share the six-mile route with few other people. On a clear day, the views stretch across the Olympics to the San Juan Islands.
- Mount Spokane
Eastern Washingtonians can learn to snowshoe on the popular skiing hill at Mount Spokane. There are several trails to hit, including climbing to a former CCC cabin and summiting Mount Spokane. Just be sure to stay out of the way of skiers.
Note: It’s important to check weather, road, and trail conditions before you venture out snowshoeing in Washington. Check out the WTA’s great winter safety tips.