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Snowshoe Trails near Seattle

by
Nov 2nd, 2020

If there’s one thing that us Washingtonians know better than anyone, it’s the outdoors. 

Washington is a state of many landscapes. There are lush rainforests, rocky coasts, jagged peaks and shrubby deserts all within just a few hours’ drive from Seattle. It’s amazing how much time we could spend outdoors and not even come near to experiencing the full extent of what Washington has to offer. Every season brings about new and unique experiences, like wildflowers in the spring and larches in the fall, and winter is no different!

We’ve already gone over some of the best skiing and snowboarding spots near Seattle, but what about those times when you want a quiet hike through the woods or a simple post-work workout? Snowshoeing isn't just limited to skiing and snowboarding resorts that offer snowshoe trails. There are plenty of other great spots that are perfect for feeding that hiking bug, even if there’s snow on the ground.

If you live in our luxury Seattle apartments for rent, then these are the best places to visit if you’re looking for some snowshoeing spots near Seattle!

Snowshoe trails near Seattle

Artist Point

Region: North Cascades

Drive time: ~3 hours

Trail length: 5.5 miles

Difficulty: ❄️❄️❄️

Experienced snowshoers will appreciate the grand vistas and expansive views at the top of this steep climb. Make sure to brush up on your backcountry knowledge before you go, especially if you’re planning on camping up there overnight!

Barclay Lake

Region: Central Cascades

Drive time: ~1.5 hours

Trail length: 4.4 miles

Difficulty: ❄️❄️

This short and sweet hike is a popular one in the summertime, but in winter it’s a little trickier to get to. Expect to hike a few miles along the snow-clogged road to get to the trailhead before starting along the official trail. Once on the trail, though, it’s practically a walk in the park, and the views of the crystal-clear lake in the piercing stillness at the end that make the work totally worth it.

Surprise Lake

Region: Central Cascades

Drive time: ~1.5 hours

Trail length: 8.0 miles

Difficulty: ❄️❄️❄️

Gaining almost 2,300 feet in elevation, the trail to Surprise Lake is certainly a more challenging snowshoe trek. There are no routes or trails for this hike, so just follow the Skykomish River Valley all the way up to the pristine Surprise Lake above, where you can find some of the best views of Surprise, Thunder and Spark Plug Mountains around.

Lake Valhalla

Region: Central Cascades

Drive time: ~1.5 hours

Trail length: 13.0 miles

Difficulty: ❄️❄️

This long trek offers some especially rewarding views of Lake Valhalla from the Nason Creek Valley above. Jagged peaks and ridges dominate the skyline above the quiet lake, and the route itself is a serene hike through the stately firs and over bubbling creeks. Be aware that snow conditions can be harsh there, so brush up on your backcountry knowledge, and be prepared to turn back if the snow gets too deep.

Edith Creek Basin

Region: Mount Rainier

Drive time: ~2.5 hours

Trail length:  ~ 1.0 mile

Difficulty: ❄️

Mount Rainier in the winter is just as majestic as in the summer, and this easy hike into the basin boasts some great views of Seattle’s favorite mountain. For those of you wanting to foray into the world of overnight winter camping, Edith Creek Basin is an accessible and picturesque starting point. Be sure to check for weather, though, as clouds can roll into the area very quickly and turn visibility down to practically nothing.

Crystal Mountain Resort

Region: Mount Rainier

Drive time: ~2 hours

Trail length: 2.0 miles

Difficulty: ❄️

The Crystal Mountain Resort offers a pedestrian gondola that’s perfect for a snowshoe trip without requiring the steep ascents common with most other trails. Catch views of major Washington peaks like Mount St. Helens, Glacier Peak, Mount Baker, Mount Adams and the Olympics if the weather is clear, and spend the rest of the day exploring the ridges, trails, roads and hills in the vicinity. Finally, head back to the gondola for a convenient ride back down to the main resort area.

Mount Townsend

Region: Olympic Peninsula

Drive time: ~ 3.5 hours

Trail length: 13.5 miles

Difficulty: ❄️❄️❄️

If you’re looking for a full snowshoe experience, this jaw-dropping hike is the one for you. The route, which gains almost 2,500 feet of elevation, traverses through old forests and up steep slopes before finally reaching the summit of Mount Townsend. It’s a tough hike and a long one to complete on snowshoes, but the view of the Olympics and Mount Rainier are certainly worth the work.

Wenatchee Crest

Region: Central Cascades

Drive time: ~1.75 hours

Trail length: 6.0 miles

Difficulty: ❄️

With only 400 feet of elevation gain, this meandering route through the snow boasts great views of Diamond Head and Tronsen Ridge along an easy trail. The route starts at the Blewett Pass Sno-Park and is perfect for children, beginners and even dogs! End with a gorgeous panoramic view of the Stuart Range and bluebird skies before turning back. 

Skyline Lake

Region: Central Cascades

Drive time: ~3 hours

Trail length: 3.0 miles

Difficulty: ❄️❄️

Although this hike is only three miles round-trip, the 1,100 feet of elevation gain makes the route to Skyline Lake a decent challenge for most snowshoers. It offers some great views of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness and of Cowboy and Big Chief Mountains, and even on cloudy days the swirling clouds and dusky light make the snowy landscape just as magical as ever. 

Whether you’ve been snowshoeing for years or have never even tried it before, Washington State has a million different hikes, trails and routes that are perfect for any outdoor enthusiast. Meander along a meadow, haul yourself up a mountain peak or crunch through dense forests to find the snowshoeing hike that’s perfect for you, and we guarantee that your winters will be a hundred times more adventurous. 

Have fun!

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Featured photo courtesy Pixabay/adege

Author of Article

Colleen Ford is a South African who now lives in Spokane, Washington. She loves to travel, camp (in warm weather) and bake.

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