Snowshoeing

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Snowshoeing along White Pass in Central Washington State

Perhaps the most peaceful way to enjoy the brilliance of winter…  Strap on snowshoes and step to it.  Summer’s hiking trails transform to a winter hiker’s wonderland.  Areas around White Pass offer groomed trails for winter exploration, while sno-parks in the Rimrock Lake are provide snowshoers the opportunity for making fresh tracks.  As always, check road and trail conditions before heading out – and carry supplies and the ten essentials with you on your trip.

Here are a few top picks for snowshoeing along the Byway:



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Snowshoeing Hotspots

White Pass Nordic Center

Length:  10 total miles   Elevation Gain:  290 feet
Trail Type:  many options Skill Level:  novice to advanced
Season:  late November to early April Trailhead Elevation:  4,500 feet

Offering some of the most enjoyable rolling and winding groomed trails in the Northwest, spend the day at the White Pass Nordic Center.  Tour among 18 kilometers of double-track trails weaving through the Wenatchee and Gifford Pinchot National Forests. The terrain is available for cross country skiing, skating and snowshoeing for individuals of all skill levels.  Lessons and equipment rentals are available and friendly staff members are available at the Nordic Center Yurt near the trailhead to answer your questions.  The Nordic Center is open during the ski season, Thursday - Sunday and holidays from 8:30am until 4pm.  For more information visit the White Pass Nordic Center. Download a printable map of the area here.

Directions:  Drive US Highway 12 to the White Pass Ski Area.

Burley Mountain Lookout

Length:  18 total miles   Elevation Gain: 3,931 feet
Trail Type: out-and-back   Skill Level: most difficult
Duration:  2 days Season:  Nov - Dec & March - April
Top Elevation:  5,304 feet Other uses:  cross-country skiing

Up, up, up…  An arduous route, the trek to Burley Mountain Lookout follows a narrow section of rock through the trees never ceasing in its direction to the top.  Views are spectacular – look upon vast snow-covered meadows and see the mighty mountains of the Cascade Range – Mts. Rainier, St. Helens and Adams.  Route finding becomes difficult as snowdrifts become common towards the top.  Those reaching the summit are rewarded with the opportunity to stay overnight in the Burley Mountain Lookout (advanced reservations are required).  Always carry a map and compass.  Prior to your trek to Burley Mountain, contact the Cowlitz Valley Ranger Station, 360-479-1100 for road conditions and more information. 

Directions:  From Randle, drive one mile south on Forest Road 25 and then turn left (east) onto FR 23 (Cispus Road). Continue on FR 23 to its junction with FR 28/21. Bear right on FR 28/21, cross the Cispus River, turn right onto FR 76, and continue past the Cispus Environmental Center to FR 77 on the left. Follow FR 77 for about 7.5 miles, then turn left onto the dirt track of FR 7605.  Drive to the snowline. 

Horseshoe Lake

Length:  11.75 total miles   Elevation Gain: 1,200 feet
Trail Type: out-and-back   Skill Level: backcountry
Duration: 6 hours Season: mid-Dec to mid-Mar
Top Elevation:  4,100 feet Other uses: cross-country skiing and snowmobiles

A sweet spot in the middle of snowmobile country…  Start the tour with a three mile ski up a snowmobile path (stick with it, it’s worth it!) and then you’re on your way trekking along a lovely skier-only trail through the snow-covered forests to serene Horseshoe Lake.  Not a difficult trek, but the route-finding can be tricky.   Always carry a map and compass.  Prior to your trek to Horseshoe Lake, contact the Cowlitz Valley Ranger Station, 360-479-1100 for road conditions and more information.  Download a printable map of the area here.

Directions:  From Randle, travel south on Highway 131.  After 0.9 mile, the road divides.  Stay left on Road 23.  After 18.7 miles, turn left on Road 21 for 4.8 miles to an intersection with Road 56.  Turn right on Road 56, cross the Cispus River and continue for 3.1 miles before turning right on Road 5603.  Travel 0.3 miles to the Orr Creek Sno-Park. 

Round Mountain

Length:  9 total miles   Elevation Gain: 1,280 feet
Trail Type: out-and-back   Skill Level: more difficult
Duration: 5 hours Season: Jan - Mar
Top Elevation:  4,320 feet Other uses: cross-country skiing

If you are searching for a trail meandering through the woods, Round Mountain is a great choice.  As you trek along the trail, catch glances every so often of the stunning, snow -capped Goat Rocks.  Pinegrass Ridge and Clear Lake are other landmarks you’ll see as you weave in and out of forest.  Always carry and map and compass.  Prior to your trek to Round Mountain, contact the Naches Ranger District, 509-653-1400 for road conditions and more information. 

Directions:  Turn south off US Highway 12 at 7.6 miles east of White Pass or 26.2 miles west of the junction with State Route 410.  Follow Tieton River Road 3.3 miles to the North Fork Tieton River Sno-Park.  Ski ¼ mile to Round Mountain Road No. 830.

White Road Snow Park

Length:  7 total miles   Elevation Gain: 480 feet
Trail Type: out-and-back   Skill Level: easiest
Duration: 4 hours Season: Jan - Mar
Top Elevation:  4,800 feet Other uses: cross-country skiing

This is the place for beginners or those skiers just out for an easy tour along the flat.  White Road offers easy ups and downs and is nearly level along the entire route; a great places to practice your skills.  The mountain views are incredible without having to reach a summit – gaze at the Goat Rocks and the mighty Tatoosh Range.  Another plus for skiers, the area is designated for non-motorized winter sports only.  Always carry and map and compass.  Prior to your trek to White Road Snow Park, contact the Cowlitz Valley Ranger Station, 360-479-1100 for road conditions and more information. 

Directions:  From the White Pass summit, drive west 0.7 mile and turn north on White Road No. 1284.  Be sure to park off to the side of the road.

Lost Lake

Length:  10 total miles   Elevation Gain: 1,250 feet
Trail Type: out-and-back   Skill Level: more difficult
Duration: 6 hours - 2 days Season: Jan - Mar
Top Elevation:  3,800 feet Other uses: cross-country skiing and snowmobiles

Trek through the forests of ponderosa pine as you make your way up to pretty, little Lost Lake and a small campground skirting its shores.  Take some time at the campground destination to explore a few of the roads and trails in the area.  This is not a trip full of panoramic views, instead it’s a journey through a forested winter wonderland.  The exception is at 2 ½ miles when snow-covered Bethel Ridge comes fully into view.  Always carry and map and compass.  Prior to your trek to Round Mountain, contact the Naches Ranger District, 509-653-1400 for road conditions and more information.  Download a printable map of the area here

Directions:  Travel US Highway 12  16.4 miles east from the summit of White Pass or 0.6 miles west of Hause Creek Campground and turn couth on Tieton Road.  Drive 0.2 mile to a large sno-park on the right where signs mark the beginning of the Goose Egg Trail.  If there is snow here, park and begin your journey.  If not, turn left on Lost Lake Road No. 1201 and drive to the snow line.

North Fork Tieton River

Length:  9.5 total miles   Elevation Gain: 140 feet
Trail Type: many options Skill Level: easiest to more difficult
Duration: 5 hours Season: Jan - mid-Mar
Top Elevation:  3,300 feet Other uses: cross-country skiing

There are several options for snow touring at North Fork Tieton River.  Five different routes to be exact – and they all offer beautiful views and fairly easy, level routes.  The one exception is the difficult mountaineering route to the summit of Round Mountain; a route for only the most experienced skiers. Always carry and map and compass.  Prior to your trek to Round Mountain, contact the Naches Ranger District, 509-653-1400 for road conditions and more information.  Download a printable map of the area here.

Directions:  Travel US Highway 12 7.6 miles east of White Pass or 26.2 miles west of the Highway 410 junction and turn on Tieton River Road No. 12.  Drive 3.3 miles to the North Fork Tieton River Sno-Park.

White Pass - Pacific Crest Trail

Length:  16 total miles Elevation Gain: 1,200 feet
Trail Type: out-and-back Skill Level: backcountry
Duration:1 - 3 days Season: Jan - April
Top Elevation:  5,600 feet Other uses: cross-country skiing

You choose the length of your trip while skiing the Pacific Crest Trail near White Pass.  Trek past little alpine lakes and climb rounded hills, tour wide open meadows and travel through dense forests.  Those going for the day will find an easy turn around point at Deer and Sand Lakes, while others will ski on into the William O. Douglas Wilderness.  Always carry and map and compass.  Prior to your trek to Round Mountain, contact the Naches Ranger District, 509-653-1400 for road conditions and more information. 

Directions:  Drive US Highway 12 to the summit of White Pass and park in the overnight parking lot not far from the motel.

Packwood Lake

Length:  9 total miles Elevation Gain: 500 feet
Trail Type: loop Skill Level: most difficult
Duration:7 hours         Season: late Jan - early March
Top Elevation:  3,200 feet  

Packwood Lake is a hotspot for recreation during the summer months, yet is possibly even more beautiful once winter arrives.  Located on the border of the Goat Rocks Wilderness Area, access this large lake on snowshoes as you trek along an old service road following a water pipeline to the dam at the lower end of Packwood Lake.   Always carry and map and compass.  Prior to your trek to Packwood Lake, contact the Cowlitz Valley Ranger Station, 360-479-1100 for road conditions and more information. 

Directions: In Packwood, turn at the Packwood Ranger Station and continue six miles on Packwood Lake Road to the trailhead or at the snowline.

Silver Falls / Grove of the Patriarchs

Length:  5 total miles Elevation Gain: 400 feet
Trail Type: out-and-back Skill Level: more difficult
Duration: 3.5hours         Season: Jan - early March
Top Elevation:  2,500 feet  

For those looking for a setting of peace and quiet, without a lot of ups and downs or route finding, this is an excellent choice.  The trail to Silver Falls is flat and wide and relatively easy to follow.  Take time to enjoy the quiet, dense forest as you trek through the trees.  Enjoy the mighty Ohanapecosh River that follows the trail, eventually leading to magnificent Silver Falls.  During the winter, the dramatic shards of ice that line the falls create a stunning winter scene.  From the falls, the trail continues to Grove of the Patriarchs where you can look on a massive stand of trees over 1,000 years old.  At this point, return the way you came, taking in deep breaths of that clean, crisp mountain air.  Always carry and map and compass.  Prior to your trek to Silver Falls, contact Mt. Rainier National Park, 360-569-2211 ext. 3314 for road conditions and more information. 

Directions:  From Packwood, drive east on U.S. Highway 12 to the junction with SR 123 and turn left onto SR 123 (north). Drive to the Ohanapecosh Campground on the left. (This may be the end of the plowed road, although often the road is plowed another 1.5 miles to the Stevens Canyon entrance of Mt. Rainier National Park.).  Park in the plowed lot at the campground.

Sand Lake

Length:  9 total miles Elevation Gain: 900 feet
Trail Type: out-and-back Skill Level: easy to more difficult
Duration: 7 hours         Season: late Dec - early March
Top Elevation:  5,300 feet  

Get to know the high country of the Cascade Mountains on this gentle climb along the Pacific Crest Trail.  Pass through open alpine meadows, and into the dense forest, along ridgelines and near high peaks on this charming, serene trail.  Watch for frozen alpine lakes – which look more like plains of snow, than a water basin.  This trail is truly a trip through a winter wonderland and snowshoers of all abilities will have a great time.  Make the trip as long as you want.  Always carry and map and compass.  Prior to your trek to Sand Lake, contact the Cowlitz Valley Ranger Station, 360-479-1100 for road conditions and more information. 

Directions:  From Packwood drive east on U.S. Highway 12 to the White Pass summit.  Park on the north (left) side of the highway in the overnight parking area near the White Pass Ski Area (west of the White Pass Village Inn).

Cramer Lake

Length:  9 total miles Elevation Gain: 800 feet
Trail Type: loop Skill Level: most difficult
Duration: 7 hours         Season: late Dec - early March
Top Elevation:  5,000 feet  

A beautiful little gem, as its beauty rivals that of the Pacific Crest Trail, only without the crowds of fellow recreationists.  Along with the peace and tranquility, enjoy pretty Dog Lake where your journey begins.  The trail passes through dense forests as well as open meadows.  Take in the views of the surrounding peaks and view several meandering creeks.  The route is fairly easy to follow and requires moderate climbing.  Always carry and map and compass.  Prior to your trek to Cramer Lake, contact the Naches Ranger District, 509-653-1400 for road conditions and more information. 

Directions:  From Packwood, drive east on U.S. Highway 12 to the White Pass summit.  Continue east 1.5 miles to Dog Lake Campground and park in either the west or east end pullout.  To pick up the trail, snowshoe west on the southern edge of the lake and you’ll find the trail on the north side of the campground.   

Tieton River Meadows

Length:  10 total miles Elevation Gain: 350 feet
Trail Type:  out-and-back Skill Level: easiest
Duration: 8 hours         Season: late Dec - early March
Top Elevation:  3,500 feet  

Experience an idyllic trek through forests of snow-covered pine trees on the Tieton River Meadows snowshoe.  This gentle route meanders through the wide Tieton River Valley – through meadows and thick forests.  Watch for wildlife along the way.  Elk are often spotted in the area along with pine martens, snowshoe hares, foxes and an array of birds.  Always carry and map and compass.  Prior to your trek to Tieton River Meadows, contact the Naches Ranger District, 509-653-1400 for road conditions and more information. 

Directions:  From Packwood, drive east on U.S. Highway 12 to the White Pass summit.  Continue 7.5 miles to the Clear Lake Road (FR 1200).  Turn right on Clear Lake Road and drive 3 miles to the Tieton River Sno-Park located at the junction with FR 1207.

Additional information on Snowshoeing along the Byway

Gifford Pinchot National Forest
Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest
White Pass Road Conditions Webcam

Photo Credit: Deby Dixon

 

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