Problem: You want to hike high elevation trails near Seattle but want to avoid sinking knee deep in snow when you walk.
There are quite a few amazing places to snowshoe in Western Washington and the main obstacles to enjoying yourself among the snowflakes for the first time are knowing where to go and how to rent some snowshoes. Thankfully neither of the two are difficult to overcome and you're in the right spot, this guide will get you started!
Also, check out our post 6 Ways to Make Snowshoeing More Comfortable
Start with a guided tour
Mt. Rainier does a 2ish mile walk for the cost of entry plus $5 for a donation to cover the snowshoe rental.
Snoqualmie Pass has a 1 mile loop that is ranger led, a 5 mile hike and “Winter Photography Outings”. For those with children, “Kids in the Snow” even has kid sized snowshoes available for kids of all ages. Prices here range from $15-$25 (suggested donation) for adults and include snowshoes.
Stevens Pass has a 2 hour guided tour along the famous Pacific Crest Trail.
Mt. Baker holds a 2-3 hour group walk with a $15 suggested donation.
REI holds guided tours that are generally more expensive, but offer other benefits. Generally this includes driving the group up and back as well as activities like heading the Leavenworth to tour local breweries. They also hold basic (free) snowshoeing classes at the local REI store.
Mount St. Helens offers a number of higher cost tours provided by the Mount St. Helens institute for $55 plus a $15 fee for snowshoe rentals.
Renting Snowshoes Separately
Once you've decided you want to head out alone but still aren't sold on purchasing a pair there are plenty of places across the Puget Sound that will be more than happy to rent you the gear you're going to need.
REI will rent snowshoes to you in Alderwood, Bellevue, Seattle and Spokane and now Olympia.
The Evergreen State College has a community rental program in Olympia for those in the South Puget Sound area, this includes weekend rates.
American Alpine Institute's Equipment Shop offers gear in the Bellingham area with student discounts and weekend rates available.
Brown's Outdoor in Port Angeles has the peninsula covered.
If you're interesting in buying a pair, check our review of the MSR Evo Ascent. For the Seattle area I highly recommend them as we tend to get more wet snow. The molded plastic (instead of tubes) tend to float a little bit better.