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Winter Skills Courses and Guided Snowshoes

Communities throughout Washington offer a variety of winter skills courses and guided walks on snowshoeing, navigation, avalanche safety and winter camping.

Winter Skills Courses 

When the snow comes to the mountains, everything about going outside changes. Whether you're new to venturing in the cold snowy months, or a seasoned pro, the following organizations offer courses to give you the skills you need to feel confident when entering the winter wonderlands of Washington. 

Avalanche awareness classes

The Northwest Avalanche Center offers free classes that teach the basics, while Ridge Explorations has a variety of courses at different price points that cover winter safety in the backcountry.

The Mountaineers: snowshoeing, navigation and avalanche safety

The Mountaineers offer a wide variety of winter skills courses. Check out their offerings:

Skyline Lake by tracyonthetrail.jpeg
A group on snowshoes take in the sights along the Skyline Lake trail. Photo by tracyonthetrail.

REI: snowshoeing, avalanche safety, winter camping

REI stores throughout Washington and Oregon also offer introductory snowshoeing, avalanche and winter camping clinics. Click on the store nearest you to see a schedule of upcoming events.

Washington Alpine Club: winter skills

    The Washington Alpine Club offers winter skills courses.

    Guided snowshoe walks and classes

    Try snowshoeing and experience spectacular scenery while learning about winter ecology, photography skills, wildlife identification, or just enjoy a short romp in the snow!

    Many of Washington's land managers offer guided snowshoe outings. These are a great way to learn more about recreating in winter on your public lands, and see your favorite trails in a whole new light. For all of these outings, snowshoers will need layered and insulated clothing, hats, gloves and sturdy, waterproof boots for their adventure. Some programs provide snowshoes, while others require visitors to bring their own. 

    With the Forest Service

    Guided trips typically begin the first week of January and go through March. The Forest Service provides snowshoes for these outings. To offset the costs of the program, a donation of $15 for adults and $10 for youth  under 16 years of age is suggested for all tours except the extended hikes, where $25 is suggested.

    • Snoqualmie Pass: Volunteer rangers at Snoqualmie Pass offer a variety of guided hikes. Find an outing and date that works for you, or call 425-434-6111 for more details.

    • Stevens Pass: Guided walks are available for both kids and adults on select weekends. Find an outing and date that works for you, or call the Skykomish Ranger District at 360-677-2414 for more details.
      Additionally, Stevens Pass offers a shuttle bus to the summit during the winter. 

    • Mount Baker Ranger District: Ranger-guided snowshoes and avalanche courses are are available on select days in February and March. Call the program coordinator at 360-599-9572 for more details or to make a reservation.

    Snowshoeing at Gold Creek by Emma Cassidy.jpgGearing up for a snowshoe trek along Gold Creek. Photo by Emma Cassidy.

    at Mount Rainier National Park

    These outings are first-come, first-served, running from late December through March. You can expect to cover about a mile and a half in 2 hours. Snow conditions permitting, the walks are offered on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays. Snowshoes are provided, or visitors may use their own. A donation of $5 per person is requested to help defray the cost of snowshoe maintenance. A sign-up sheet is available at the Jackson Visitor Center information desk one hour before each walk.

    At Olympic National Park

    From mid-December through the end of March, you can join rangers at Olympic National Park on a short, family-friendly guided snowshoe walk. Snowshoes are provided, or visitors may use their own. Cost is $7 for adults, $3 for youth 6-15 years old and free for children under 5 years old. The walks are offered on weekends and some holidays and start at 2 p.m from the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center. Sign-up begins at the Hurricane Ridge information desk 30 minutes before the walk. For more information on winter recreation in the park, visit the Olympic National Park website.

    at Mount St. Helens

    The Mount St. Helens Institute also offers guided snowshoe adventures. Registration is required, but does not cover the cost of a Sno-Park Pass. Rentals are available. Learn more about their upcoming trips and pricing. 

    At Washington State Parks