Hack Winter! Learn snowshoeing or skiing close to Seattle

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Cross Country Skiing at Crystal Springs Sno park

The first strategy in our hack winter series is to enjoy the snow in the mountains! Snoqualmie pass is just an hour or so away (depending on weather, traffic and exactly where you start) and has many opportunities for both snowshoeing and cross country skiing (and, of course, downhill skiing and other snow sports). January is the month with the best and most consistent snow, so it’s a great time to get started with winter sports. A reminder that it’s always important to pay attention to the Avalanche forecast when venturing even a short distance away from the road or a developed ski area. During times of extreme avalanche danger, sno parks may be closed. Even when they are open, it’s still your responsibility to know the forecast and make conservative decisions.

VERY IMPORTANT: NEVER walk, drag a sled or snowshoe on a groomed cross country ski trail! Always walk to the side of a groomed trail. It will be obvious because you’ll see two tracks next to each other, and there will be a sign. Following this simple rule and other posted rules is important to making sure all sorts of winter enthusiasts can enjoy the snow together.

Snowshoeing at Snoqualmie Pass

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Last year we covered three places to get started with snowshoeing at Snoqualmie pass, along with some snowshoeing tips. These remain, in my view, the best snowshoeing options at Snoqualmie pass: Gold Creek, Twin lakes and Kendall Peak Lakes.

Snowshoeing is a great way to get started in the snow because you don’t need any special gear (except for the snowshoes, which you can rent).

Cross Country (Nordic) Skiing at Snoqualmie Pass

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Groomed nordic ski trail on the John Wayne Trail from Hyak Sno park

Cross country skiing requires more gear than snowshoeing, and there’s much more of a learning curve, but once you get the hang of it it’s a wonderful way to be outside in the winter. You’ll need boots, skis and poles which you can rent at REI or also at some groomed ski areas (Summit nordic area is the only place to rent at Snoqualmie pass and you have to use them there). Hyak is the best place to cross country ski for the first time because it’s completely flat. The parking lot can be a bit crazy because there’s also a sledding hill, but once you get about 100 yards away from the parking lot it’s beautiful and much less crowded. You can go as far as you want, then turn around and come back, so it’s difficult to get lost!

For more challenge, try out Cabin Creek, which is also crowded in the parking area but doesn’t feel crowded when you’re out on the trails. Cabin Creek has a relatively flat road and several loops of challenging hills as well as the very challenging Amabilis Mountain.

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Rolling hills on the Viking Loop at Cabin Creek

If you’re game for a ride on the chairlift, and want to explore beautiful trails with a mix of ability levels, or if you’d like to get in a lesson, head on up to the Nordic Center at Snoqualmie Pass

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View from the trails at the Nordic Center at the Summit at Snoqualmie

No car? No problem!

The Summit at Snoqualmie has a page about shuttle services to the summit as well as connecting with ridshare partners.

No gear? No problem!

WTA has a list of places to rent or borrow all types of gear.

Whatever snowy adventure you choose, tag us at @ordinaryadventurespnw on instagram and use the hashtag #hackwinter to share your story and photos!

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Jennie Flaming
Jennie Thwing Flaming, Chief Adventure Officer: Jennie's life has been a continual quest for adventure (of the non-adrenalin inducing kind) from birth till now. Professionally, she pursues adventures in teaching, counseling and working to obliterate institutional racism for students in our region's public schools and also works as a tour and hiking guide. Previous professional adventures include working in schools in Seattle and Alaska, leading tours and managing tour guides and traveling science shows and lessons with Pacific Science Center. She is working to earn a living outside and by sharing her beautiful and unique Pacific Northwest home with visitors. She likes to be outdoors and spend time with the people she loves. Jennie is born and raised in Seattle and has also lived in Alaska and the Netherlands.