Snowshoe Pacific Crest Trail North from Snoqualmie Pass

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! A couple of weeks ago (before all the big February snow) I did the first couple miles of the PCT north for a first time snowshoeing outing with my puppy (lab mix, 4 months old) and it was absolutely perfect. He had fun romping and I got to get out on my snowshoes. 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.

Frosty evergreen trees in the forest. There is deep snow on the ground and the sun is shining through the trees against a blue sky
The forest along the first section of the Pacific Crest trail north from Snoqualmie pass after a recent freezing rain

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 for the PCT north from Snoqualmie Pass.

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 not undoable 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.

Ice coated trees in a snowy forest with a blue sky
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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 presenting traveling science shows and lessons with Pacific Science Center. She believes in sharing her beloved 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.