Snow days are on the way! Click here to read my post all about getting started with snowshoeing for absolute beginners, including what snowshoeing is, gear needed (not much!), safety tips and beginning tips in general. Here I’ll talk about beginner snowshoeing near Seattle with five amazing snowshoeing outings to try this winter.
Transportation, Parking and Fees
Washington state has a fabulous Sno Park system which costs $10/day or $40/year ($80/year if you want to add the groomed cross country ski trail parks, but you don’t want or need this if you are only going to be snowshoeing). You can also snowshoe at Mt Rainier National Park and Olympic National Park, where you’ll need to pay the entrance fee (or have an annual interagency pass). Other trailheads require a Northwest Forest Pass (which you don’t need if you have a park service interagency pass). If you don’t have a car, or want to find others to snowshoe with, consider joining the Mountaineers, who teach classes and organize outings with carpools, or a Meetup group.
Many Sno park and national park trails do not allow dogs. It’s important not to bring your dog on a winter (or any trail) where dogs are not allowed, and if they are allowed, they must be on a leash. Make sure to clean up after your dog including carrying out the bag!
5 Great Snowshoe Trails for Beginners
1. Gold Creek Sno Park (Snoqualmie Pass, dogs allowed on leash, Washington State Sno Park permit): This is probably the best place for beginner snowshoeing near Seattle because it’s a sno park (plowed) and it’s basically flat. You can go a long ways up the valley if you want to, or you can make a short loop around the pond, allowing for plenty of opportunity for sno play as well as snowshoeing!
2. Kendall Peak Lakes (Snoqualmie Pass, dogs allowed on leash, Washington State Sno Park permit): This is another excellent beginner route, with a bit more challenge than Gold Creek because it climbs uphill. You can go up to 9 miles round trip, or make a shorter route by turning around anywhere along the route. It has some nice views of surrounding mountains and the Snoqualmie Pass area.
3. Lake Easton (East of Snoqualmie Pass, west of Cle Elum; dogs leashed on some trails, Washington State Sno park permit): These trails are shared with cross country skiers so make certain to stay to the right of the groomed track and skating lane. It’s a pretty area and an easy, mostly flat trail system. This area is a bit lower than the others and generally has a shorter season, so check current conditions before heading here.
4. Hurricane Ridge-Olympic National Park (Olympic National Park, no dogs, park entrance fee): The road from the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center to the summer trailhead makes for an awesome beginner snowshoe outing (approximately 3 miles with a bit of up and down) with amazing views! Going to the top of Hurricane Hill is a 6 mile outing (and avalanche danger must be taken into consideration beyond the summer trailhead). Rangers in the visitor center can recommend other routes based on the conditions, and you can join a ranger led snowshoe walk (including using snowshoes). Note that the road to Hurricane Ridge and the visitor center are only open Friday-Sunday during the winter.
5. Paradise Area -Mt Rainier National Park (Mt Rainier National Park, no dogs, park entrance fee): Another great beginner snowshoeing near Seattle (kinda near! worth the drive on a clear day) is the area around the Paradise Visitor Center, where you can explore on your own and get advice from a ranger about where to go, or go on a snowshoe walk with a ranger (snowshoes included)!