Well I’m definitely no expert; I would even consider myself a bit of a beginner. I feel like this makes me a bit of an expert, at being a beginner, so here’s my beginners guide to snowshoeing!
I was told that if you can walk, you can snow shoe. I had the misconception that when you have snowshoes on, you would be walking on the snow and it would be as easy as hiking! Well, although you don’t fall through the snow as you would if you weren’t wearing snow shoes, you still fall through, just not as far. It’s no walk in the park either, snowshoeing is quite the workout!
However, it’s not as big of a workout as it would be to not wear snowshoes at all. What other option do you have if you want to hike in snow?
Renting vs. Buying Snowshoes
If you’ve never showshoed before, I would suggest renting them to see if you even like snowshoeing, before investing in a pair. Or, if you’re on vacation and will only use them for a couple days before throwing them in a closet, only to gather dust, I suggest you rent them instead.
If Renting Snowshoes, Keep in Mind:
- In Seattle, you can rent snow shoes at REI for $22.00/day and they don’t charge you for the day before use and the day after. So, you can pick them up on Friday, use them Saturday, and return them Sunday.
- If renting them for a weekend, check the Sunday hours of the rental place. REI in Seattle, closes at 7pm on Sundays.
- Inquire about the type, brand, size, and weight limit of the snowshoe. Continue reading for details.
- Try them on before leaving the rental place!
- If you plan on using them several times in one season, plus the following seasons, rental prices will add up, and you might as well buy a pair!
Buying Snow Shoes
So, like myself, you might decide that you’ll get plenty of use out of them and that buying them would be a better financial decision.
Types of Snowshoes
According to REI, there are three types of snowshoes: flat terrain snowshoes, rolling terrain snowshoes, and mountain terrain snowshoes. I feel like they are pretty self explanatory. If hiking in the Pacific Northwest, most of the snowshoeing terrain, is mountainous. So, you’d want to choose a rolling terrain or mountain terrain snowshoe. Unfortunately, I’m not an expert on types of snowshoes; however, REI has an awesome snowshoes guide, including a size and type guide. Very very helpful! Read about more here: https://www.rei.com/learn/expert-advice/snowshoes.html
If you’re snowshoeing, there will be snow on the ground (I hope!), so most likely it will be a bit chilly outside. However, like I previously said, snowshoeing is quite the work out! So, layering is the key. Parts of my snowshoeing adventures include me only wearing one or two layers because I’m super hot from the workout. However, when I stop to take several photographs, take in the view, or have a snack, I have to add the layers and hand warmers at times! Here’s what I typically bring snowshoeing:
- Osprey day pack
- Winter waterproof gloves
- Winter fleece hat
- Hand warmers (2 sets)
- MH ghost whisper down jacket
- Patagonia Refugee Gortex Jacket
- Crampons (in case the snow is packed down and snowshoes are not needed)
- GoPro Hero 4 Silver
- Sony a6000
- Canon 6D with extra lens
What I Wear:
- Fleece ear headband
- Fleece baklava around neck
- Thin thermal shirt with thumb holes
- Fleece half zip pullover jacket
- Glove liners
- Thermal underwear
- Columbia snow pants
- Warm wool socks
- Salomon waterproof hiking boots
- MSR mountain terrain snowshoes
- Trekking poles with basket tip
Places to Snowshoe in the PNW
Although I haven’t been snowshoeing that often in the PNW, I do know a few great places to snowshoe.
Basically any mountainous trails in Washington, are great snowshoeing trails! If it’s a cloudy day/snowy day, grab your snowshoes and head to some waterfall hikes such as:
- Franklin Falls
- Wallace Falls
- Lake Serene and Bridal Veil Falls
If it’s a sunny day, go for the snowshoe hikes with awesome views:
- Mount Defiance
- Artist Point
- Hurricane Hill
I love frozen waterfalls in Oregon. However, I found that the majority only required crampons for. Here are some of my favorite snowshoeing hikes in Washington:
- Crater Rim – Crater Lake National Park
- Broken Top
- Tumalo Falls
- Mount Hood (offers snowshoe rental places)
Check out TheOutbound and AllTrails apps for more snowshoeing trail inspiration! Snowshoeing is great because you don’t necessarily need a trail! You can go places you aren’t able to go in the summer!
Snowshoeing is easy to learn and a great winter activity for you hikers antsy to get back on the trail! So, grab your snowshoes and hit the trail!