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Enjoy The Cascades; Snowshoe With A Forest Ranger This Winter

Mark Schindler
Flickr via Compfight
Showshoers enjoying the views at Hex Mountain, WA on January 12, 2013.

Winter in the Northwest can be challenging, with so many dark days. One strategy for getting through is to go outside and enjoy the weather, whatever it is. Starting this weekend, you can snowshoe with a forest ranger at four locations in the Cascades. They even provide the snowshoes.

Three-year-olds love to snowshoe too! This one was enjoying the conditions this December at Mt. Baker Ski Area.
Credit Koreena Haynes / US Forest Service Mt Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest
US Forest Service Mt Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest

“We get the snowshoes at a discount, so it’s nice to be able to share that with the public,” said Koreena Haynes, a public affairs specialist with the Mt Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. “Our main objective is to get folks out on the public lands and learn snow travel in the safest and most fun way.”

The National Forest Service teams up with a group called Discover Your Northwest to offer the guided snowshoeing walks from January through March. Donations are encouraged, but not required. The hikes vary in length and themes, so along with brushing up on the basics of snowshoeing and safety, you can get tips on things like winter photography or tracking wildlife.

There are also avalanche awareness walks at all the locations.  Haynes says those sessions are taught by forecasters from the Northwest Avalanche Center.

“One on one education from a forecaster, [to] learn how these different snow layers interact with each other and how to pick routes through areas that might not be traveled very much,” she said, adding that along with the extreme beauty of the Cascades comes the high risk of avalanches. But knowing some basics can help.

“So you’d really learn a lot if you’re interested in getting into snowshoeing even more.”   

The hikes take place at Snoqualmie Pass, Stevens Pass, Darrington Ranger District and Mt Baker. They range in length from 90 minutes to 5 hours and it’s a good idea to sign up in advance. All skill levels including beginners are welcome.