Looking to have some fun in the snow?
Seattle has some fantastic, and educational, snowshoe hikes within two hours (normal driving times) from city center. These hikes are big kid friendly, but if you’ve got littler ones, or prefer riding versus hiking when it comes to your snow day fun, I’ve included some tubing hills close by as well.
First off, for safety: Make sure your personal vehicle or rental car is equipped for mountain driving. Wear layers, and stay away from cotton as when it gets wet, it stays wet, making it easy to become chilled. A waterproof outer layer, even a shell, will keep you comfortable. Light hiking boots or tennis shoes easily fit in the snowshoes used on the guided hikes. Use wool or polypropylene socks –they are going to make you the happiest. Also, for our lowland or warm region guests: Snow is serious business. If you are unfamiliar with the area, terrain, or abilities, do not go off on your own. Utilize a guided snowshoe walk, check weather conditions, and be safe.
Two hours is our max drive time, but this can easily make a long day trip. Leave Seattle by 9am, arrive to Paradise by 11 or so, enjoy a day in a beautiful wonderland, and head back to the city at about 5pm. The visitor’s center does have food for sale. As this is within the National park, a entry fee is charged. Also, chains are required for any car driving into the park in winter.
About 60 miles east of Seattle, right on Snoqualmie Pass, is the Hyak Snow Park. It has five sledding hills that are grooming several times a week, as well as cross country ski runs, snowshoeing trails (see caution above) and an open area for just general snow fun. The big draw of this area is that it is FREE to sled. The parking however, is not, and you will need a Discover Pass and a Snow Park day permit (currently $30 per car). It is also self catered. There are bathrooms here, but not much else, so you need to pack in your own snow gear, sleds and food. If this sounds a bit too rustic, backtrack the car just a few miles west to the Summit Tubing Center at Snoqualmie, with 12 groomed tube lanes, a motorized tow line, and a café on site. They charge by the two hour session, which will run you $25 a person, and they provide the tubes.
For snowshoeing, the US Forest Service guides six different snowshoe hikes in the area around Snoqualmie Summit. They ask for a suggested donation of $25 a person. Hikes occur Saturday and Sundays, and can be tailored for kids, photography, etc. Snowshoes are provided. Reservations are required.
Snowshoeing at Crystal Mountain
Looking for a little bit fancier of an experience? For snowshoeing only (no tubing at this location) check out Crystal Mountain, about an hour southeast of Seattle. Every Saturday, through the end of March, Crystal offers Snowshoe and Dinner, or Snowshoe and Sip events. A little pricer, at $65 a head, but a unique and memorable experience. Start your hike with a chairlift ride up to the top of the Bullion Basin area and a two hour walk through beautiful forests, with epic views. Return to dinner, or select evenings, a featured winery. Snowshoes are provided and reservations are required.
Leave a Reply