I’ve been wanting to try a different snowshoe trail that’s safe for kids, and last week I saw another family post a report about snowshoeing up at Blewett Pass. That gave me the courage to drive a little farther to check out the trails there. (We had planned to go to Paradise, but the weather forecast deteriorated that week, and we didn’t think snowshoeing in the rain sounded very fun…) This trail is technically called the Swauk Forest Discovery Trail, but there were no signs at the trailhead with that name, so we took what we thought was the right trail, and it turned out it was. You’ll share the parking area with snowmobilers, but don’t worry, there are plenty of quiet spaces for human-powered adventurers to roam.
From the parking area we went off to the right/south, where a blue sign announced the cross-country ski trails, and blue diamonds on trees marked the trail. The trail we took is signed XC 141 Swauk Meadow Trail; XC15 Haney Meadow Junction; and XC141.1. It was well packed down, crusty snow, and easy to follow as we wound up the gentle hillside and between the trees.
Pines and firs dominated the forest, and the air was fresh and clean smelling. The sun shone weakly through some very high, thin clouds, but it was a welcome change to be in brightness instead of westside gloom.
We saw snowshoe hare tracks all over the place. In one area, there were other tracks right along with them, and we wondered if maybe a hare met an untimely end.
The snowshoeing guide did say that the population of snowshoe hares supports a large amount of predators in that area.
A couple of interpretive signs were poking through the snow; we look forward to going back this spring or summer to hike the entire interpretive trail when the snow is gone. The signs we saw talked about tree diseases in the area and tree species nearby.
We trekked about 3/4 mile up to the junction with the road, which was well traveled by snowmobiles.
Diamond Head reached up nearby, while the trees thinned out to a more open, meadowy forest. We continued onward over a rise and along the snowshoe track, losing the blue diamonds at one point, but finding them soon. The kids were losing energy and needed lunch, so we decided to stop and snack. The clouds started getting a little thicker, and we cooled off considerably while resting.
Annika enjoyed trying to “sled” down the gentle slop on her behind. Nobody wanted me to break out the stove for Mac and Cheese, instead opting to have it later when we got back to the car.
The kids weren’t interested in continuing farther up the trail, preferring to head back to the parking lot and try some sledding. I’d like to go back another time and get up higher on one of the nearby ridges. We ended up doing just under 2 miles, and it took much less time to make our way back to the car than it had to walk up.
We got out our sleds and found the slope near the parking area was just about perfect for sledding – not too steep, but fast enough to be fun, and with a relatively safe runout (except for one large tree…) I got the stove out and heated up water for Mac and Cheese and coffee, and we enjoyed the rest of the quiet afternoon.
If You Go:
The Blewett Pass Sno-Park is located about 24 miles up Highways 970 and 97, north of I-90 from Cle Elum. There are other sno-parks on the way up the highway, so don’t get confused. You will need to purchase a sno-park pass ahead of time (you can do this online.) There are porta-potties in the parking area. This area is shared with snowmobilers and XC skiers, and it does get busy on the weekends. I was surprised that there was cell service in the parking lot and along the trail. This trail is free from avalanche danger, so you can take your kids and not worry about getting caught in a slide.