Snowshoeing is a great way to beat the winter blues by getting outside, getting some exercise and enjoying the snow! If you’re new to snowshoeing, it’s an easy activity to get into. No special technique or skill is needed and the only special gear you need is the actual snowshoes. To get started, Washington Trail Association has a terrific article here.
Anytime you head off the road or out of a maintained ski area in the winter, it’s important to check the Avalanche forecast. It’s especially important to carry the 10 essentials and make sure to bring extra warm clothes. Dress in layers as you are likely to be very hot snowshoeing, but you’ll want your coat when you sit down to eat lunch or check your map. Be aware that snowshoeing is harder and slower than hiking, so make sure to have a turn around time and stick to it, and set your mileage goals much smaller (like half) of what you might do hiking. If there is deep new snow, it will be much slower than if you’re traveling on a well packed trail. Finally, while you can snowshoe pretty much anywhere, all of your favorite hiking trails may not work for snowshoeing in the winter. The trailhead might be inaccessible due to snow, it might cross dangerous avalanche areas, or it might just be too many miles. There are many great places to snowshoe, here are a few to get you started that are an hour from Seattle, have plenty of snow in the winter, and are good for beginners. All of these trailheads require a Washington State Sno park pass.
Gold creek is a beautiful trek through a snowy forest and almost completely flat, a great outing for your first time! The trail goes for a significant distance, so a good strategy is to just decide what time you’re going to turn around to get back to your car well before dark.
Twin Lakes starts from the Hyak sno park and then takes a spur trail up to a snowed in forest service road. The last bit of the trail that leaves the road is very hard to follow, so that can be a good turn around point. Make sure to have a map with you and know how to use it if venturing down to the lakes!
Kendall Peak Lakes
Kendall Peak Lakes involves a bit more climbing, but is still good for beginners and has some great views of the Snoqualmie pass area on nice days. This is another one where the lake is far and the last bit is more exposed to avalanches, so I suggest turning around just below that where there is a great picnic spot with a view (photo above). The trek climbs through the forest but still has frequent views to keep things interesting