I’ve done a couple of snowshoe trips since the New Year, and fully intended to write up a trip report for each, but decided that since time is passing away so quickly, I’ll just write up a blurb about our trips.
Kachess Dam Road
This is an easily-accessed area, just off the freeway in Easton (Exit 70 on I-90). You’ll park in a plowed-out area at the side of the road, and start snowshoeing up the road. Sometimes you’ll need to share space with snowmobiles, but the day we were there, we didn’t have any company. When we reached the power lines, we turned left/west, and walked under them until we found a trail heading north into the trees, marked with an orange diamond.
This part of the trail was more interesting, and we enjoyed it a lot. We reached the shore of Lake Kachess, where we sat and had lunch and enjoyed the view of the water, low clouds, and snowy shore.
After eating, we wandered around the shoreline and then made our way back to the cars. We hiked about 2.5 miles, but you could do more by traversing farther up the road or wandering more around the shoreline. There are no facilities at the trailhead, so if you need a toilet, you can drive over the freeway to Easton Lake State Park, where there are flush toilets and running water. We hiked this with my friend Cindy and her dogs, and another young friend of my daughter’s.
Salmon Ridge Snowshoe
The next week, I went out with a girlfriend to the Salmon Ridge Sno-Park along the Mt. Baker Highway. We did the snowshoe trail down along the Nooksack River, and then walked a little ways up the Razor Hone Road. This road is groomed and shared with skiers, so we had to stick to the side as much as we could. We did about 2.5 miles there, too. Clouds were low, and the temps were in the 30s – it was raining, so we got pretty wet by the end. Snow bombs were falling off the trees, too. But we had avoided the wind and pouring rain that had been forecasted for higher elevations all through the Cascades.
There was a lot of water in the low areas near the river, so we had to carefully make our way through the dips and over fallen trees on this more adventurous trails. This is a neat area to visit when you don’t want to be up high, and want to avoid snowmobiles. The parking lot was about 6-7 inches deep in sloppy, melting, muddy snow, so make sure you have boots or extra shoes along. We helped a lady extract her small pickup from the Sno-park area on the side of the road. She had bald tires, nothing of weight in the back of her truck, and nothing with her in case of emergency. She should not have been out there in that vehicle and those conditions. But I got to use my new military surplus folding shovel that I got last summer for my emergency car kit. This was a neat trip, and really nice to be without the kids for once.
Pipe Creek Sno-Park
Two weekends ago, my family had the whole day Saturday free. We decided to get out together while we had the chance, and the weather looked to be the best farther east. We drove through rain and clouds on the west side, but by the time we got to Cle Elum, we had sunshine. Up we went, north on Hwy 97, and pulled in at the Blewett Pass Sno-Park. It was a zoo, completely full on both sides of the highway, tons of snowmobile trailers and regular snowshoers crammed into every available spot. We had wanted to do the Wenatchee Ridge road walk, but decided to turn around and head back down a mile or two to the Pipe Creek Sno-Park. That turned out to be an excellent decision. There were only a few cars parked there, and we only saw 3-4 other parties out on the trails. Snowmobilers are not allowed there, so it makes a quieter destination.
The parking lot was an ice rink; we were thankful to have Microspikes and YakTrax to walk around with. We hiked out of the northeast side of the parking lot, which is a multi-use ski/snowshoe trail. It is not groomed, and was basically two trenches in the soft snow. Temps were in the 40s, so things were pretty sloppy, and we did sink down at times when we got out of the trench. We met one couple who was trying to ski, but they weren’t able to do what they wanted, so they were booting it down the slope.
We followed the trail as it paralleled below the highway for about 0.4 miles, then we took a right and headed away from the road to get some distance from the highway noise. We stopped at one point to have a snack, as Gabe was getting fatigued. We hiked a little further on, and stopped a little more than a mile from the parking lot, where there was a nice meadow view.
This would have been a good snack spot. But we made it our turnaround spot after taking a bunch of photos. We enjoyed the sound of gurgling streams and the beauty of blue skies and red ponderosa pines in contrast with the snow. The sunshine felt so good on our faces. We did about 2.1 miles, and there is a gentle elevation gain of about 240 feet. It’s a good, safe place to take the family, and there are many more miles of quiet wandering away from the snowmobiles from that sno-park.
I’ll be putting these new trails into my hiking guide under Winter Snowshoes on the top menu. Click on that menu heading, and you can click on a specific trail for driving directions, passes needed, and other trail information.