Welcome to winter in Washington! If you're looking for places to snowshoe, information about Sno-Parks, or tips to safely enjoy your winter outings, then you've come to the right page.
Safety and Smarts
Hikers and snowshoers need to do plenty of advance planning and take every precaution before hitting a trail during the winter months. During winter it is more important than ever to pack wisely, leave a detailed plan of your trip with someone you trust, and know how to navigate on a trail that is obscured with snow. Now is a good time to get a referesher on those winter safety tips.
Choosing a Destination
Choose your destination wisely
Don't assume an easy summer day hike will make a good snowshoe trip. Popular summer hiking trails such as Lake 22, McClellan Butte, Granite Mountain, the Ira Spring Trail or Snow Lake become avalanche hotspots in winter and should not be considered easy snowshoe destinations.
Consult a guidebook to find the best low-risk snowshoe routes. And remember that there are other snow risks beside avalanches -- tree wells (the hollow in snow at the base of a tree) and snow cornices are on-trail dangers too. Take a winter skills course to learn more about avalanche and snow safety.
Avalanches can strike even the most prepared winter hiker. Before going out on a snowy trail, check with the Northwest Avalanche Center to determine local mountain weather and avalanche conditions. If you encounter a steep slope, and are unsure about avalanche conditions or your own preparedness, turn back or find another route.
WTA Hiking Guide
Want to explore Washington's winter wonderland? You can find lots of routes by searching WTA's trip reports.just type "snowshoe" into the Hike Name field. You can also find out which hikes become safe and fun snowshoe trails on WTA's
This is the time of year when t are so important and helpful, both for your own planning and for other hikers. When you return from your winter outing, consider writing a trip report about your experience, including notes about the conditions. Even a brief entry about the snow cover can be a big help to others looking to get outside.
Many Forest Service ranger districts list recommendations for winter hikes and snowshoes within the "Recreation" section on their website, or you can call for suggestions. Find your nearest ranger station information here.
Private Ski Areas
A number of ski areas offer trails for cross-country skiers and snowshoers that are well-maintained and designed to avoid avalanche danger. Check with your nearest ski resort to find out their rules for snowshoe users.
A Washington Sno-Park Permit allows you to park at plowed lots that grant access to groomed trails and backcountry trails. Because they're parking permits, you only need one per vehicle.
Sno-Parks can be found statewide. While most areas allow for snow mobiles, some are designated specifically for non-motorized users. You can find your nearest non-motorized Sno-Park here.
Buying a Permit
Day Permit: $20/day. Day Permits are valid at any Sno-Park location, including Special Groomed Trail locations, until midnight of the purchase date.
Seasonal Permit: $40/season. Seasonal Permits are valid at all Sno-Park locations. To park at a Special Groomed Trail (see below), you will need to add a Special Groomed Trails Permit onto your seasonal permit.
Special Groomed Trails Permit: $40/season add-on. To park at the following locations, you will need both the Seasonal Permit and the Special Groomed Trails Permit. This optional add-on to the Seasonal Permit allows you to park at Cabin Creek, Chiwawa, Crystal Springs, Hyak, Lake Easton, Lake Wenatchee, Mount Spokane and Nason Ridge where trails are groomed for cross-country skiers.
Purchase your permit online from November 1st- April 30th. If you purchase your permit from a vendor, there is an additional $2 handling fee.