Distance: 6 miles roundtrip
Elevation gain: 400 feet
Parking pass: Washington State Sno-Park Pass
Drive time from Seattle: 1 hour, 50 minutes
On New Year's Eve, Grace and I slipped on our microspikes, tethered our snowshoes to our packs, and set out on our last snowshoe of the year. Our initial choice, Indian Creek, had led us to a bare, 3.0 mile road walk—not exactly the experience we were looking for. So! We paused and hit reset, sitting in Grace's idling Subaru and thumbing through a paperback of Snowshoe Routes: Washington for another option.
We wanted something not-too-difficult, since we were going out snowshoeing on New Year's Day too, but we also wanted pretty, snow-covered views. Wenatchee Crest was only about a 20 minute drive from Indian Creek, and at 6 miles roundtrip, 400 feet elevation gain, it wouldn't break our fitness bank for the next day. Our adventure ended up being a wonderful last hurrah of 2017, with some surprises, too!
Here are highlights and tips from our Wenatchee Crest Snowshoe!
1. Dogs are allowed! We loved running into pups on the trail and giving them a squeeze and a scratch :)
2. The trail's gentle grade and snowy views makes it a great family-friendly snowshoe. We saw a happy father pulling his son on a sled that was tethered to his waist, both with big grins on their faces :)
3. Tall, snow-crusted conifer trees and the snow-blanketed trail made the experience feel like a true winter wonderland. Although fog obscured our views, on a clear day you can see the Teanaway Mountains and Stuart Range.
4. We gleefully spotted western larches along the trail! Their telltale yellow needles were long gone, but you can still identify them from the plentiful stubs decorating their branches, and porcupine-like spines emanating from their cones.
5. Snowshoeing on a single track felt special somehow, like we were following a path to Narnia. The crunched down snow formed a kind of "pedestal" in the center of the trail, so when we stepped off it, we got the surprise of sinking up to our knees in snow!
6. The trailhead was easy to find and easy to access, located 25 miles northeast of exit 85 off I-90. At the sign for Blewett Pass, we turned left (north) into the North Blewett Pass Sno-Park, and the trailhead was on our right.
1. Purchase a Sno-Park Pass online or in person from the Snoqualmie Pass Visitor Center (Jan. 4 - Mar. 25 // Thursday - Sunday: 8:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. // (425) 434-6111) or Cle Elum Ranger District (Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. with a 45-minute closure for lunch from 12:30 to 1:15 p.m. // (509) 852-1100).
2. The North Blewett Pass Sno-Park, located on the north side of U.S. Route 97 next to the Wenatchee Crest Snowshoe trailhead, is small and fills up quickly. Arrive reasonably early to grab a spot. If it's full, cross the road and park in the Blewett Pass Sno-Park (take care crossing U.S. Route 97—there's no pedestrian crosswalk and cars come flying down Blewett Pass!)
3. Visit the first or second week of October to see golden larches! A ranger I spoke with in Cle Elum confirmed there are western larches along the route, and it is open to hikers, dogs, and horses in the summer and fall. She also confirmed that you do not need a parking pass if you visit outside the winter sno-park season.
4. Grace had a great suggestion to keep this hike in your back pocket for when you are traveling back from Leavenworth to Seattle via I-90 in early-mid October. Might make a nice fall stop with the larches!
5. Discover Cle Elum has suggestions for places to grab a bite to eat (and more) in nearby Cle Elum.