When winter weather brings fog, snow and traffic delays to the city of Seattle, escape via its eastern edge along Interstate 90 to Snoqualmie Pass. You'll reach prime snowshoeing country in less than an hour. There you can strap on your snowshoes and explore trails for every ability level through wide, level valleys or along towering peaks. Guided Forest Hikes The U.S. Forest Service sponsors guided snowshoe walks through the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest during winter months. Treks leave from the visitor's center at Exit 52 on I-90. You can take a mile-long trek through old-growth forest each Saturday and Sunday, with departure times ranging from late morning to early afternoon. Longer hikes depart Friday through Sunday, running from mid-morning through mid-afternoon. Bring your own lunch, day pack and water. Special hikes include winter photography outings and treks for kids. There is no fee for the walks, but the Forest Service requests a per-person donation. Rise to the Summit Visit the Summit at Snoqualmie resort to access more than two dozen trails for snowshoeing and Nordic skiing. Rent Snowshoes at the Nordic Center in the Milwaukee Lodge at Summit East. Each trail has a difficulty rating to help you find one suited to your ability and fitness level. Trails denoted on the map with green circles are easiest; blue squares are intermediate trails; black diamonds clue you in to the most challenging and strenuous trails. Extreme adventurers will even find one double-diamond route. The trail system has two warming huts and three portable restrooms. Lower Gold Creek Basin Head down I-90 to Exit 54, where you'll find wide-open areas for snowshoeing at Lower Gold Creek Basin. There are parking areas along Mardee Road, and from there you can trek to Mardee Lake, Gold Creek Pond, or head toward Kendall Peak 8 miles north via the Pacific Crest Trail. The area is popular with Nordic skiers, and kids love sliding on the Hyak Sno-Park Sledding Hill just on the other side of the freeway. Although the spot sees its share of users, snowshoers spread out along the valley, giving you a feeling of solitude in the wilderness, with a great view of the Cascades. A Multiday Adventure Hardcore snowshoers can follow the John Wayne Pioneer Trail more than 100 miles from the Snoqualmie region to the Columbia River in the central part of the state. The Snoqualmie Pass segment of the trail begins at Hyak south of I-90 and stretches past Lake Keechelus 20 miles to Lake Easton State Park. Sno-Park passes are available for snowshoeing at the Forest Service Information Center. Cold Creek and Roaring Creek campsites by Keechelus Lake provide places to spend the night, with direct vehicle access. You can also set up a dispersed site in the forest, as long as you don't damage vegetation with your equipment.
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