Winter is an exhilarating time in the Bellevue, Washington area to experience the outdoors. Bellevue’s year round mild weather is regulated by the Pacific Ocean, which remains relatively even in temperature throughout the year, making for ideal outdoor recreation every single weekend of the year. But just minutes away in our nearby mountains, the white alpine powder snow you seek awaits from November - March.
Here are a few Instagram worthy suggestions to get outside and fulfill your thirst for winter snowshoeing adventures.
The Summit at Snoqualmie Nordic Center
Our number one choice for a snowshoe day-trip near Bellevue is The Summit at Snoqualmie Nordic Center, just 40 minutes from Bellevue. With more than 50 km of trails dedicated exclusively to snowshoeing and cross-country skiers, this is a haven for those wishing to explore our winter wonderland. Warming huts and restrooms along the trails, as well as a rental shop is located at Summit East. Try the 4-mile long Gold Creek Trail. Want more? Also, check out nearby Keechelus Lake.
Located just 90 minutes-drive from Bellevue, Stevens Pass features several groomed trails. The trails will take you along the base of Jim Hill Mountain and into the heart of Mill Valley. With a rental shop, plenty of dining options, and the opportunity for snowshoe lessons on-site, Stevens Pass is the perfect place to strap on those snowshoes.
Mount Rainier National Park
The best place for snowshoeing in Mount Rainier National Park is Paradise, you will find the starting point for several trails for all experience levels. This is also the starting point for the popular ranger-guided tours. As part of these two-hour treks, rangers will introduce you to the sport’s history and explain the safety precautions. Ready for a bigger challenge and epic views, take Paradise Valley Road trail that leads you 3.5 km to Reflection Lakes–giving you exceptional views of Mount Rainier. Snowshoe rentals are available on site.
For a guided snowshoe tour in Washington, try Crystal Mountain Resort. Ride the gondola up the hill and trek through the alpine forest and lake and complete the downhill trek which makes this snowshoe tour one of our favorites. In addition to their guided tours, you can park in the Crystal Mountain parking lot and explore the backcountry, where there are beautiful trails and peaks to be found.
Olympic National Park: Hurricane Ridge
From the Hurricane Ridge Visitor’s Center, adventure out on easy or more challenging snowshoe trails. You will be rewarded with stunning panoramic views, frosted evergreens, views of Mt. Olympus, and the Olympic Mountains. The “easy” trail ends at about 1.5 miles, more advanced snowshoers can make it all the way up to Hurricane Hill for the 6-mile out-and-back.
Mt. Baker / North Cascades: Artist Point
Venture to the North Cascades, starting from the upper parking lot of Mt. Baker Ski Area, snowshoe 4-miles roundtrip in one of the most scenic areas of Washington State. Mt. Shuksan hovers, with Mt. Baker visible in the distance. There are steep sections on the trail, but the incredible views will keep you going!
Let’s face it, snowshoeing and winter activities are hard work, so you will love Bellevue’s luxurious accommodations, cultured cuisine, spa services, and endless shopping and activities. By basing your Winter activities in Bellevue, you can easily enjoy accessing the different areas that we highlighted and return at day's end to our comfortable home away from home.
Tips for Snowshoeing in Washington
Before snowshoeing or any outdoor winter outing, be sure to check conditions and stay within your skill level. Snow conditions on all of these routes change on an ongoing basis, so check Trip Reports, weather, and snow and avalanche conditions before you head out. Also, be sure to stay off frozen lakes and rivers. Just like when you head out to hike, you’ll want to pack your 10 essentials for the snowy trails too.
Where to rent snowshoeing equipment
We have selected many recommendations where rentals are available, however, you can rent snowshoes at the Bellevue REI store, just call ahead to make sure they are available.
Bring a hot beverage
A thermos of hot cocoa, coffee, or tea in your pack to stay warm at the end of the trail and during breaks is a good idea. It’s a tasty treat to warm your hands and your core body temp.
This mantra might sound counterintuitive, but you’ll work up a sweat in no time if you start with too many layers. It’s essential to stay dry to retain your body heat, and you don’t want that cold air hitting your wet body. No worries, you’ll warm up in no time.