Snowshoe Pacific Crest Trail North from Snoqualmie Pass

Last Updated on December 7, 2020

If you’re looking for a close to Seattle, no trail pass needed, relatively safe from avalanches winter snowshoe, snowshoe Pacific Crest Trail north from Snoqualmie Pass! This trail is also known as the longer outing to Commonwealth Basin though I have never gone beyond the first couple miles. I am super conservative about avalanche danger and about two miles up it crosses a more open area that I’m not comfortable with. It’s always important to be aware of avalanche danger as well as weather and road conditions when snowshoeing, but the first couple miles along this trail are relatively safe winding up a forested hillside. There are lots of advantages on this trail, but it does NOT have views (at least in the first two miles which is as far as I’ve gone). If you’re looking for more views, check out one of these other beginner snowshoe outings.

To get started, drive to Snoqualmie Pass and park anywhere you can at Summit West. Parking is free, but you may have to walk a little bit. Cross under I90 and then you’ll see a trail along the road on the right. After a short distance, you’ll see an unplowed road on the right, go up the road to the summer trailhead to snowshoe the Pacific Crest Trail north from Snoqualmie Pass. Directly across the street is another closed road which goes down to Franklin Falls.

Trail sign for Pacific Crest Trail partially covered with deep snow
The trailhead sign covered in snow (like the outhouse!)

Be aware that the summer outhouse at the trailhead is closed (and mostly buried) so you don’t count on being able to use it (there is WSDOT rest area at Snoqualmie Pass so you can use before you park).

Once on the trail, the trail climbs steadily but not too steeply up the hillside. There are several stream crossings, depending on the conditions you may need to walk a few feet across the stream either with or without your snowshoes on (keeping them on is a little sketchy but doable if you’re very careful). About two miles in you’ll approach a slope which is where I turn around (you can also turn around sooner if you’re ready). This makes for an out and back outing of approximately 4 miles with about 800 feet of elevation gain.

Ice coated trees in a snowy forest with a blue sky
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Jennie Flaming
Hi! I'm Jennie. I’m a fourth generation Seattleite who lived in Alaska for 7 years and I still spend lots of time there every year. I've been a tour guide for many years in both Alaska and Washington and am a field editor for the Milepost. I love to share the places I love with visitors, newcomers and my fellow locals. I’m so glad to have you along on the journey to experience your best adventure in Washington, Alaska and Western Canada!