While we’ve had a slow start to winter this year, the snow has more than filled in over the last few weeks. If you haven’t made your way to the mountains yet this season, you’re missing out. Seattle is one of the nation’s best cities when it comes to mountain access. Head east on I-90, Highway 2, US-12, or WA-542 to travel high into the Cascades. The further east you drive, the higher you’ll climb. In just under an hour up Snoqualmie or Stevens Pass, you’ll pass snowbanks on the side of the road, and the iconic evergreen pines that cover the state will bear snow on each branch. Winter in Washington is the dealer’s choice when it comes to mountain activities. Head to one of the nearby Washington ski resorts for a little downhill fun, drive to a nearby Nordic center and Sno-Parks to take on your favorite winter trails, or strap on your snowshoes and head out for a winter hike. Continue reading below to learn about Our Favorite Trails for Show Shoeing Near Seattle.
Snowshoeing Near Seattle
Gold Creek Pond - Snoqualmie Pass
Snoqualmie Pass is home to many beloved trails for snowshoeing near Seattle, including Gold Creek Pond. A great option for beginners or those looking for a relaxing stroll in nature, Gold Creek is a flat, mile-long route that circles a pristine mountain lake. The area is popular, so expect to see others enjoying nature. Don’t forget your Sno-park pass, and be sure to follow the posted parking rules.
Franklin Falls - Snoqualmie Pass
Franklin Falls is a popular trail off I-90 that transforms into a winter wonderland when temperatures drop. On a warmer winter day, you’ll find a rushing waterfall flanked by icicle-clad cliffs. On a cold day, the entire torrent can freeze into a charming display of winter. Check on local avalanche conditions before heading out, and be sure to have proper avalanche training and tools. The winter hike begins from the Asahel Curtis Sno-Park, which is 2.75 miles from the Franklin Falls trailhead. The total trek is a 6.5-mile round-trip with 700 feet of elevation gain.
Hex Mountain- Cle Elum Lake
With low avalanche risk, Hex Mountain makes for a challenging yet safe winter hike. The trail rises a whopping 2,600 feet in just 3.5 miles. If you’re lucky to get a break in the cloud coverage (which is more likely with this further east location, east of the Cascade Crest), the panoramic view from the summit is phenomenal. The trail begins along Forest Service Road 116. You’ll walk past a closed gate to start the hike. If you’re looking for a challenging hike and to test your fitness while snowshoeing near Seattle, Hex Mountain awaits.
Mazama Ridge - Mount Rainier National Park
Located just past the main visitor area near the Paradise Inn, this Mazama Ridge trail offers rewarding views of Rainier and the Tatoosh Range. The total hike is 6 miles round trip and takes trekkers along a ridge line, offering views of Reflection Lake below. The winter route up the ridge is steeper than the summer hike from Edith Creek Bridge but avoids avalanche-prone areas. Be sure to check the Mount Rainier National Park website for updates on opening times for the road to Paradise.
Hurricane Hill - Olympic National Park
If you’re looking to skip the Snoqualmie Pass crowds, head to the Olympic Peninsula this winter, specifically Hurricane Hill near the Hurricane Ridge ski area. The hike begins near the rope tows of the ski area and continues along the ridge line until you reach the summit. With simultaneous views of both Mount Olympus and the Pacific Ocean, standing on the summit of Hurricane Hill on a clear winter day is surreal. The total hike comes in at 6 miles round trip with just 800 feet of elevation gain. Note that the Hurricane Ridge lodge burned in 2023, and access to amenities may be limited.
Sun Top Lookout - Mount Rainier National Park
Sun Top Lookout is a very scenic drive in the summer, but feet of snow transform it into one of Mount Rainier National Park’s best winter hikes. The trail stretches for just over five and a half miles each way, making for a challenging 11-mile trek. Along the way, you’ll gain 5,000 feet of elevation and come face to face with Rainier in all her glory. Note that the last few miles of the trail to the historic fire lookout can have avalanche risk, and proper avalanche training and equipment (both offered by Gearhouse) are recommended for your safety.
Gearhouse is your one-stop shop for winter gear in Seattle. Stop by to browse our winter gear rentals or pick up a pair of snowshoes on your way to the mountains.