In the winter, the snow falls on the higher elevations in Lewis County and stays there for months on end, covering trails of dirt and rock with a peaceful layer of snow that transforms the landscape around it. There may be no better way to enjoy the peace and beauty that winter brings than on a pair of cross-country skis or snowshoes. So grab a pair, get in the car and head on out to East Lewis County where the snow has fallen and will fall more throughout the season!
Here are a few best bets for cross-country skiing, ranging from the Mount Rainier area to White Pass and the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. With miles upon miles of trails among them, there's certainly more than can be explored in one day, so be sure to find the perfect lodging opportunity for an overnight stay in between excursions!
This region, managed by the Washington Department of Natural Resources, is prime backcountry for both cross-country skiers and snowshoers alike. Groomed trails travel through varied forest scenery and undulating elevations. Ski huts and yurts along the way are available for rent too!
More than seven miles of trails give you views of the Cascades, Mount Rainier and so much more.
The Tahoma State Forest is located near Ashford, and is also located just a few miles from Mount Rainier National Park! Find out more information about that community here on DiscoverLewisCounty.com.
Explore the deep forest and a quiet landscape, with only the sounds of nature around you, with an excursion through the dense forests of the Gifford Pinchot.
The best opportunities for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing can be found on the trails that branch from the various Sno-Parks within the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. Get a list of those Sno-Parks, including a Google Map with directions to each, by clicking here.
Please note that storm damage from the early December 2015 wind and rainstorm has taken its toll on some areas of the forest, so please check with the Cowlitz Valley Ranger District in Randle or visit the Forest Service website for updated conditions.
It's more known for its downhill skiing and snowboarding opportunities, but the White Pass Ski Area has an extensive network of backcountry trails that connect to areas within the outer reaches of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. With more than 10 miles of trails, the White Pass Ski Area brings a beautiful setting more than 4,000 feet in elevation to people of varying skill levels.
Stop by their Nordic Center for more details! Snowshoes and skis are available to rent on site.
Mount Rainier is a winter wonderland, with the oft-visited Longmire and Paradise area receiving several feet of snow each November through May. But you'll have to venture to the further reaches of the park to partake in snowshoeing or cross-country skiing.
The best bet in the Lewis County portion of Mount Rainier National Park is the Reflection Lakes area. The Washington Trails Association gives a good guide to a seven-mile snowshoe trip in the area that, on a clear day, offers a spectacular view of Mount Rainier and its surrounding wilderness. For directions and more info, click here.
Further up the road at Paradise, you can partake in Ranger-guided snowshoe walks. These walks are a great way to learn about the history of Mount Rainier, the environment surrounding the mountain and much more.
Also, family-friendly opportunities for snowplay exist at Paradise when there are more than five feet of snowpack — something the whole family can enjoy on a soft sled or inner tube.