Around this time every year, all it takes is a 40-minute drive east from Seattle to transport yourself to a winter wonderland. While winter may stop some people from getting outside and hitting the trail, it simply changes the gear we use to do so. With a solid pair of snowshoes and some poles, a snow-covered trail becomes a playground. At Gearhouse, we offer snowshoe rentals and weekly group outings to encourage our members to make the most of the Washington winter. If you’re tired of sitting inside and waiting for the snow to melt so you can hit the trail, continue reading below to learn Everything You Need to Know about Snowshoeing in Washington.
What is Snow Shoeing
The first known snowshoes popped up in Central Asia roughly 5,000 years ago. While the materials have changed significantly in snowshoes today, the concept remains the same as it was thousands of years ago. Snowshoes give users a broad surface area to disperse their weight over loose snow, allowing them to travel over the snow without sinking in deeply. Modern snowshoes have an aluminum or composite frame with a sturdy decking material to keep you on top of the snow. The bottom of each snowshoe has sharp cleats to help users retain balance on icy surfaces and hardpacked snow. Depending on the model, your snowshoes will have straps to secure your boot to the shoe. Just like with hiking, poles can be helpful when snowshoeing but are not necessary for beginner trails.
Snowshoeing for Beginners
The first step to beginning your snowshoe journey is to find the right gear. If you’re snowshoeing in Washington, waterproof gear is essential. Aside from snowshoes and good winter boots, you’ll need gaiters, lightweight ski or snow pants, long johns, a moisture-wicking base layer, a fleece or comparable warm layer, a waterproof shell, a warm hat, and gloves. Always layer up and expect to be cold. It’s easy to shed layers if you get hot. For footwear, choose warm, waterproof boots and warm wool socks. Be sure to bring 10 essentials, and an extra puffy jacket for rest stops. A small insulated sit pad is also a great addition to your pack.
Planning Your Snowshoe Outing
Not all hiking trails make great snowshoeing trails. Some popular summer hikes may lead you through avalanche-prone areas in the winter. Monitor trail and weather conditions and do your research prior to your first outing. The Northwest Avalanche Center is a great resource to monitor avalanche conditions for avalanche education and snowshoeing in Washington. If it’s your first time snowshoeing in Washington, go with a buddy or sign up for one of Gearhouse’s regular group outings. Always let someone know where you’re going and when you plan to return.
Snowshoeing in Washington
By mid-winter, snow blankets Washington’s craggy peaks and alpine meadows. The state’s higher altitudes attract outdoor enthusiasts and backcountry aficionados who explore Washington’s highest reaches on skis and snowshoes. Washington has a trail for every skill level, from the casual beginner to the adventurous endurance athlete. There are popular snowshoeing areas all over the state, from Snoqualmie Pass to Blewett Pass to Leavenworth and beyond. Some of our favorite trails are just a short drive from the city.
If you’re curious about snowshoeing in Washington, stop by our Capitol Hill Location to talk shop, rent gear, and sign up for a group outing. Beyond snowshoes, Gearhouse is your one-stop shop for Seattle Ski Rentals, backcountry gear, and everything you need to enjoy winter in Washington. Stay tuned to our blog to find out our favorite snowshoe trails near Seattle.