Mazama Ridge Snowshoe

Mazama Ridge Snowshoe

My Instagram friend Mitch recently talked about the balance between traveling to a new place and revisiting an old favorite, and I couldn't help recognizing the sentiment. Most of the time I'm compelled to hike in places I've never been before, mainly for practical reasons: improving my knowledge of hiking in Washington State and pushing myself outside my boundaries.

But there's always one or two hikes—or, in this case, a snowshoe—that I come back to year after year. Mazama Ridge is that snowshoe for me: a wide, gently rolling fairway with gratifying views of Mount Rainier. In the summertime, magenta paintbrush and periwinkle lupine douse the meadow-like ridge, while winter turns her into a vast white playground.

High Hut Snowshoe

High Hut Snowshoe

High Hut is a bucket list snowshoe offering piercing views of Mount Rainier and a one-of-a-kind backcountry experience. Part of a system of huts and ski trails managed by the Mount Tahoma Trails Association (MTTA), it's located 13 miles southwest of the Nisqually Entrance to Mount Rainier, about a 2 hour drive southeast from Seattle. 

The cabin-style hut was built by the volunteer-run MTTA, a non-profit organization founded in 1990 in order to develop a trail and hut system near Mount Rainier. Huts provide shelter, sleeping quarters, a communal warming space for backcountry travelers, and a winter getaway for skiers, bikers, and snowshoers. The MTTA's 25-mile trail system and four huts were inspired by hut-to-hut trails and mountain chalets in the Alps.

Bullion Basin Snowshoe

Bullion Basin Snowshoe

For our first snowshoe of the year, Grace and I headed to Crystal Mountain. With the snow level rising to 4000 feet, we figured our chances of finding fresh powder would be better at a ski resort or Mount Rainier. I had also hiked a loop on the Silver Creek trail, PCT, and Buillon Basin trail this past summer, and wanted to come back to check it out in the wintertime.

Berkeley Park

Berkeley Park

Hiking past bright, multi-hued fields of lupine, paintbrush, bistort, sitka valerian, and awe-inspiring views of Mount Rainier is a priceless summer adventure. I was seeing vivid wildflower reports of Berkeley Park in the Sunrise area of Mount Rainier National Park, and though I've written about Sunrise hikes in my book, 75 Great Hikes Seattle, I had yet to visit Berkeley Park. So, I went for it!

Full Moon Hike: Mount Rainier National Park

Full Moon Hike: Mount Rainier National Park

Grace and I were driving back from Chelan on the Fourth of July, cruising over Stevens Pass on a traffic-free evening, when we had the kind of exchange hiking buddies have while figuring out on their next hiking adventure. Someone said "Tolmie Peak" and then someone wondered aloud when the next full moon was. Grace looked it up: "Huh, it's this Saturday." Done! We had found our next hiking fix: a full moon hike on Saturday, July 8th, to Tolmie Peak Lookout in Mount Rainier National Park.