Outdoors

Agencies, group offer folks a chance to strap on snowshoes

With winter’s white blanket thickening on mountain slopes around the region, many people are preparing for the snowshoe season.

As the snow piles up, a number of agencies and groups, such as the National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service and Mount St. Helens Institute will hold guided snowshoe walks. Here is a look at some of the offerings:

US FOREST SERVICE

The Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest will conduct trips that will provide lessons on winter ecology beginning the first week of January through March. To offset the costs of the program, a donation of $15 per person is suggested for all tours except the extended hike, where $25 is requested.

Snoqualmie Pass: Rangers offer a variety of guided hikes, including a short, flat, kid-friendly hike and a longer hike back into Commonwealth Basin on the Pacific Crest Trail. Also, new this year: avalanche awareness walks. Walks are available on select Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. Call 425-434-6111 for more details or to make reservations.

Stevens Pass: Guided walks are available for both kids and adults on select weekends. Call the Skykomish Ranger District at 360-677-2414 for more details or to make reservations.

Mount Baker Ranger District: Guided walks are available on select Fridays and Sundays. Call the Mount Baker Ranger District at 360-599-9572 for more details or to make a reservation.

Darrington Ranger District: Guided walks are available on select weekends for the Big Four Ice Cave. Call the district office at 360-436-1155 for details or to make a reservation.

NATIONAL PARK SERVICE

Mount Rainier National Park: These ranger-led walks will teach participants snowshoeing and how plants, animals and people adapt to the challenging winter conditions at Mount Rainier. The first-come, first-served walks are scheduled to start Dec. 24. The walks are generally offered on Saturdays, Sundays, holidays, and daily during winter break Dec. 24-Jan. 1.

After early January, walks are offered Saturdays, Sundays and holidays. Walks start at 11:45 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Meet inside the Henry M. Jackson Memorial Visitor Center at Paradise. Sign-ups begin one hour before the walk.

Snowshoes are provided, or visitors may use their own. A donation of $5 per person is asked to help defray the cost of snowshoe maintenance.

Olympic National Park: Ranger-led snowshoe walks for individuals and families will be offered at 2 p.m. Saturdays, Sundays and Monday holidays through March 29, as well as Dec. 26. Space on the walks is limited, so people should sign up at the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center information desk beginning 30 minutes before the scheduled walk. Snowshoe walks are offered, snow permitting. A suggested $5 donation per participant to park partner Discover Your Northwest helps provide snowshoe walks and repair and replace snowshoes.

MOUNT ST. HELENS

The Mount St. Helens Institute will offer guided snowshoe adventures starting Jan. 24 and running through March 21. Trips include Ape Cave, June Lake and Old Man Pass. Registration is required ($45) and does not cover the cost of a Sno-Park Pass. Rentals are available. Get more details at mshinstitute.org.

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