Snowshoeing is one of the friendliest sports for beginners. Mother nature will provide you with snow. All that is left for you to do is to bundle up in warm clothing, strap on some snowshoes and have a desire to explore the outdoors. No need to worry if you don’t own a pair of snowshoes as you can rent them if necessary.
Described below, we have found five snowshoe day-trips for first-timers–all within a two-hour drive of Seattle. Taken into consideration were factors such as ease of equipment rental, choice of beginner trails, and proximity to Seattle.
5. Stevens Pass
Located just a two-hour drive from downtown Seattle, Stevens Pass features four beginner groomed trails that range from 1.2 km to a 2.7 km trail. The trails will take you along the base of Jim Hill Mountain and into the heart of Mill Valley.
With a rental shop, plenty of dining options and the opportunity for snowshoe lessons on site, Stevens Pass is the perfect place to strap those snowshoes on for the very first time.
4. Hurricane Ridge, Olympic National Park
One of the premier snowshoes hikes for beginners, Hurricane Ridge offers stunning panoramic views, frosted evergreens and rolling hills of snowdrifts. The visitor’s center offers snowshoe rentals on the weekends during the winter.
Starting out from the lodge is a 1.5-mile trek along a road that soon turns into forest land. There is a picnic area that offers an end point for the true beginners. Turn around and explore the trailside meadows. For the beginner who wants a bigger challenge, keep heading up towards Hurricane Hill. Regardless if you make the summit or not, the views are spectacular along the way.
3. Crystal Mountain Resort
For the first-timer looking for a guided snowshoe tour, there is no better place in Washington than Crystal Mountain Resort. Every Saturday night, a 2+ hour snowshoe tour is offered–complete with a family style dinner at the end.
Riding the gondola up the hill, a trek through the alpine forest and lake, and completed with a downhill trek makes this snowshoe tour one of our favorites for beginners.
Crystal Mountain also offers Snowshoe and Sip tours, where you can pair snowshoeing with four samples from the brewery, winery, or cidery coupled with the tour. Several dates are offered in February and March 2019.
If guided tours are not what you are after, park in the Crystal Mountain parking lot and explore the backcountry where there are beautiful trails and peaks to be found.
2. Mount Rainier National Park
The best place to head to in Mount Rainier National Park is Paradise, where you will find the starting point for plenty of trails for all experience levels. This is also the starting point for the popular ranger-guided tours. These tours let first-timers and experienced snowshoers alike try the sport out for a minimal donation (snowshoes included).
As part of these two-hour treks, rangers will introduce beginners to the history of the sport and explain the safety precautions one should take. This is an excellent way to learn more about snowshoeing.
If you are looking for more of a challenge, hop on to the Paradise Valley Road trail that leads you 3.5 km to Reflection Lakes–giving you exceptional views of Mount Rainier. Snowshoe rentals are available on site.
1. The Summit at Snoqualmie Nordic Center
Our number one choice for a beginner’s snowshoe day trip is The Summit at Snoqualmie Nordic Center. With more than 50 kms of trails dedicated exclusively to snowshoeing and cross-country skiers, this is a haven for anyone wishing to explore the winter wonderland.
Warming huts and restrooms are available along the trails, along with a rental shop at Summit East to fulfill all your needs. Along with the two beginner loops around the lodge, trek up Cold Creek Trail where there is a turnaround point 4 kms out.
Read more about the Mt. Baker- Snoqualmie National Forest: A Drive Along the Mt. Baker Scenic Byway