Seattle, Washington: Top 5 Day Trips for Snowshoe Beginners

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 ranging from 1.2 km to 2.7 km. 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.

map of snowshoe trails at Stevens Pass WA

There is a multitude of trails at Stevens Pass. Photo: Stevens Pass

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 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 endpoint 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.

Read More: Hurricane Ridge Offers Plenty of Snowshoeing in Olympic National Park

view from Hurricane Ridge

The views from Hurricane Ridge are incredible. Photo: Hurricane Ridge

3. Crystal Mountain Resort

For the first-timer looking for a guided snowshoe tour near Seattle, there is no better place in Washington than Crystal Mountain Resort.

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.

In addition to their guided tours, you can park in the Crystal Mountain parking lot and explore the backcountry, where there are beautiful trails and peaks to be found.

Read More: Known for Its Skiing, Crystal Mountain Attracts Snowshoers Too

top of mountain at Crystal Mountain Ski Resort

Crystal Mountain is a great option for beginning snowshoers. Photo: Sveta Imnadze via Shutterstock

2. Mount Rainier National Park

The best place to head for snowshoeing 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 try the sport out for a minimal donation (snowshoes included).

As part of these two-hour treks, rangers will introduce beginners to the sport’s history 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.

Read More: Snowshoeing in Paradise: Mount Rainier National Park

snowshoeing near Seattle: gorgeous view near Mount Rainier

You can rent snowshoes on-site to explore this gorgeous area. Photo: Lindsay MacNevin

1. The Summit at Snoqualmie Nordic Center

Our number one choice for a beginner’s snowshoe day trip near Seattle is The Summit at Snoqualmie Nordic Center. With more than 50 km 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. Additionally, a rental shop is located 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 km out.

Read More: A Drive Along the Mt. Baker Scenic Byway

view of mountains and trails at Snoqualmie

Snoqualmie has over 50km of trails to explore! Photo: Maxim Kazitov via Shutterstock

What are some of your favorite trails near Seattle, Washington? Please share them with us in the comments below.

This article was originally published on Oct 27, 2014, and was updated with new information on Nov 24, 2020. 

Read Next:
Snowshoeing For Beginners: The First-Timer’s Guide
Plenty of History & Snowshoeing Options on Washington’s Mt. St. Helens
Luxurious Backcountry: Exploring Hut-to-Hut Trail System on Mount Rainier
Snowshoeing & Other Delights In The Olympic Peninsula

About the author

Lindsay MacNevin

First a mom… then a writer… then an avid traveler… then an outdoor enthusiast. Graduating from the University of Guelph with a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology, Lindsay’s love for writing, travel and the outdoors sparked a full-time career as a freelancer. In addition to writing for Snowshoe Magazine and its sister publication, River Sports Magazine, Lindsay is also a correspondent for Concourse Media’s Beyond freelancing, Lindsay partnered with her sister, Jenny, to create—a blog that combines their love for travel, adventure and motherhood.

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  • Thank you for your post! As a beginning snowshoer, I have a super-basic question… If I am not going to a ski resort for snowshoeing and instead hitting trails or logging roads, must I have an SUV-type vehicle? I have an all-wheel drive sedan, and it’s clearance is not impressive. I am worried that I don’t have the vehicle for this hobby. Thanks.

    • Hi Corbitt, Thanks for submitting your question! Whether you need an SUV-type vehicle really depends on the snow conditions and the maintenance of the trailhead/road. We have one vehicle with fairly low clearance, but in most cases, we are still able to access mountain trailheads or backcountry areas if the roads have been well-maintained. There have been occasions after a large snowfall though where instead of parking directly at the trail or road entrance, we parked farther away from our destination and then snowshoed in since our car wasn’t able to navigate the conditions. So, overall, an all-wheel-drive SUV vehicle is helpful, but you can still participate in snowshoeing even if you have a vehicle with low clearance. Just remember to remain cautious of the conditions on the road and at the trailheads to avoid driving in areas that may be too deep for the low-clearance of your sedan. I hope that helps! Please feel free to let us know if you have any other questions. Happy snowshoeing! – Susan, Snowshoe Mag Editor

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