When Winter descends upon Mt. Rainier, and it is a beautiful sight to see. You can’t imagine what it looks like when sixty+ inches of snow fall in just a couple of days, turning our beloved national park into a winter wonderland. You just have to see it for yourself. The perfect way to experience the winter season is to snowshoe Mt. Rainier.
Whether you are planning a romantic getaway with that special someone in your life, or a family getaway that includes children and adults of all ages, snowshoeing is the perfect activity to include in your list of “must dos”. Why snowshoeing? First of all, it is an activity that requires almost zero training. People of all ages and fitness levels can participate, and it allows everyone to see the natural wonders of Mt. Rainier up-close and in person.
Mt. Rainier has an extensive number of trails that are perfect for snowshoeing. The level of difficulty for each varies ensuring that there is a perfect snowshoeing experience for everyone.
If you haven’t gone snowshoeing before, don’t worry; there are resources to help you get started at and around Mt. Rainier National park. There are several places to rent snowshoes if you don’t have your own pair:
- National Park Inn General Store.
- Whittakers Mountaineering (in Ashford)
- Henry M. Jackson Visitor Center at Paradise (included with ranger-led walks)
Once you have your equipment you can choose to go on a ranger-led tour, like those offered at the Henry M. Jackson Visitor Center, or strike out on your own. If you decide to go snowshoeing on your own, don’t worry, the visitor center provides free hand-outs that outline the best and safest winter routes based on your experience and desired outing. The rangers are also happy to help you pick a route that suits your needs.
There are many snowshoeing trails for you and your companions to enjoy. They vary widely in experience, difficulty, and length.
Trails that might interest you include:
Westside Road: Located between the Nisqually Entrance and Longmire, you can tromp across part of, or this entire 13-mile long trail. You will enjoy a gradual incline as it takes you by waterfalls and through forests.
Twin Firs Loop: This trail is also between the Nisqually Entrance and Longmire. If you are just looking for a quick outing in between long soaks in one of our cabin’s hot tubs or sitting fireside, consider this quick four tenths of a mile loop trail. It takes you through old growth forest where enormous trees amaze as they tower above you and surround you.
Rampart Ridge Loop: This trail is located at Longmire. If you enjoy nice hard hikes along beautiful forest trails, this is the snowshoeing route for you. It will take you up switchbacks until you reach the ridge top where you can catch a breathtaking view of Longmire. By the end of the 6.7-mile trek, you will be ready for a warm meal and a long hot soak in a tub under the starry night sky.
Longmire to Cougar Rock: Between Longmire and Paradise, this is a snowshoeing adventure that will carry you out of a thickly forested area so that you can catch a view of the Nisqually River. After crossing the road to Paradise, this trail ends at Cougar Rock Camp.
Reflection Lakes: You have to strap on your snowshoes if you want a chance to see Mt. Rainier’s reflection. There are four lakes at this location, which starts at the Narada Falls parking area. These lakes are only accessible by foot once the snow falls and the Reflection Lakes trail takes you east along the rock wall and beyond to where you will either enjoy the magical view of a snow-covered lake or the reflection of Mt. Rainier.