Learning to snowshoe in Olympic National Park was the perfect winter adventure – snowy vistas, a little sweat, and a lot of fun.
I have no talent, I’m just passionately curious.
Great words from Albert Einstein. While the guy clearly had talent up the wazoo, I totally appreciate the sentiment.
From a young age, we’re taught that ‘curiosity killed the cat’. As we get older, finish our formal education and move into stable jobs, it’s easy to get comfortable with a daily routine rather than seek out new hobbies or activities.
I’m a pretty curious soul. And while I have no amazing talents or skills that will thrust me into reality-show stardom, I love to learn – and will pretty much always give something a crack if I get the chance.
Skiing, scuba diving, rock climbing, bungee jumping, yoga. Master of none, but I have a whole lot of fun. Or at least a funny anecdote to share afterwards.
So when I read about snowshoeing in Washington’s beautiful mountains, I decided that somehow I would make it happen this winter.
And I did. On the very last official weekend of winter, Tom and I headed to Olympic National Park to acquaint ourselves with the art of snowshoe.
Hurricane Ridge is the Olympic Peninsula’s major alpine destination in winter. Located just 17 miles from Port Angeles, it sits at an ear-popping elevation of more than 5200 feet – meaning that famous Olympic precipitate gifts the mountain with awesome snowfall most winters.
Hurricane Ridge offers plenty of snow-filled fun for cross-country skiing, downhill skiing, snowboarding, and tubing – but today, we were here for the snowshoes!
They say that if you can walk, you can snowshoe. I have to agree – once I figured out how to navigate the bindings and actually strap myself into the shoes, it was up and away.
Feeling confident in our new contraptions, we decided to follow Hurricane Road as the path seemed clearly marked and headed towards the best scenic outlooks.
It certainly delivered.
Our day was a little overcast, but we still had great views of the Olympic range and off in the distance, the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Vancouver Island. On clear, blue sky days hikers and snowshoers will be treated to views even more magnificent, featuring Mt Olympus, Mt Baker, Glacier Peak and beyond into the Puget Sound.
While the first part of the trail was busier with fellow snowshoers, cross country skiers and day visitors trying their luck on foot – the further away we traveled from the visitors centre, the more we had the place to ourselves.
What a truly spectacular place to be alone.
The trail followed along the ridge line, through beautiful winter coated forest. Towards the end of the track, we even found this picnic area to rest at (the picnic table was a little snowed in!). A great spot to rest the legs, have a snack, and enjoy the great outdoors.
Hurricane Ridge is the perfect place to try snowshoeing. There are plenty of easy trails for novices, with rentals available right on the mountain. It’s also one of the most visually spectacular places in Washington to try it. How can you not enjoy yourself when surrounded by this scenery?
The whole day, I only fell once… very gracefully… right in front of a total stranger… while stepping back to snap a photo. (Note to self: do not attempt to walk backwards in snowshoes. Clumsy results.)
So really what I’m saying is, if I can do it, so can anyone.
Hurricane Ridge also offers plenty for intermediate and advanced snowshoers. The most popular route is to hike all the way to Hurricane Hill, which continues along the ridgeline, past two avalanche chutes, and another 700ft ascent to the top. While I didn’t make it that far on my first attempt, I am told the views at the top are even more amazing than what I was treated to. Something to aim for next time!
- Entry to Olympic National Park is $20 per vehicle, which gives you a 7 day pass.
- Hurricane Ridge Visitors Centre offers rental of snowshoes and poles. When I visited, it was $17 for shoes, or $22 to include both poles and shoes. Talk to park rangers about conditions before you head out, and grab a trail map while there.
- Snowshoeing is typically available from mid-December until late-March, depending on the season and snow cover.
- Visit the national parks website for more information – or ask me a question below!
Have you tried snowshoeing Olympic National Park? Do you have any favourite spots in the USA or abroad that I should try next winter? Tell me below in the comments!
Did you enjoy this story? Share the pin below!
Snowshoeing Olympic National Park Snowshoeing Olympic National Park Snowshoeing Olympic National Park