6 Top Destinations for Cross-Country Skiing
The winter wonderlands of Washington are a sight to behold, made more impressive when experiencing them on foot. Those with cross-country skis find themselves wonderstruck at the blankets of snow covering everything in sight. In every corner of the Evergreen State there are world-class snow destinations, offering breathtaking views and fun adventures for all levels of skiers.
Before leaving the house, check the snowpack in the region you are headed, the avalanche conditions, and road conditions and closures.
Where the rugged mountains seem to scrape the sky, you can find fantastic cross country skiing adventures in two locations. The first is the Salmon Ridge Sno-Park near the Mount Baker Ski Area. The 15 miles of groomed trails are lower than the ridges, so views aren’t as sweeping as they are at the ungroomed trail to nearby Artist Point, but they are great for all levels of skiers. You’ll need a Sno-Park pass to park.
On the other side of the North Cascades, you’ll find the Methow Trails, which is recognized as one of the finest trail systems in North America for Nordic skiing. On the sunnier side of the mountains, a $25 daily pass gives access to 120 miles of groomed trails across a handful of locations, showcasing the landscape of the Methow Valley.
Around Stevens Pass, four awesome adventure spots await skiers looking for groomed trails to explore. The Nordic Center around Stevens Pass has 18.5 miles of groomed paths that are perfect for beginners and skiers looking for a little more structure and amenities. Also great for more structured skiing is Plain Valley Nordic Trails near Leavenworth. For a daily fee, you can explore the 15 miles of trails, with options for all levels of skiers.
Lake Wenatchee and Chiwawa are a bit more primitive. Lake Wenatchee State Park has 7.9 miles of groomed trails that can be skied, showing off the mountains and lake. East of Lake Wenatchee, Chiwawa Sno-Park is another nice spot to ski, giving just 10 miles of groomed trails along the Wenatchee River. Chiwawa is less visited than the other options in the region.
Cross country skiing around Snoqualmie Pass is excellent. The Nordic Center and Snoqualmie Summit have over 30 miles of trails for all abilities. Giving mountain views and forested trails, all ages will enjoy skiing here and it is close to amenities. On the other side of Keechelus Lake, the Cabin Creek Nordic Ski Area is an excellent choice for more of a wilderness experience. Offering 15.5 miles of groomed trails, you’ll need both a Sno-Park permit and a groomed trails sticker to explore.
Two spots in the Southern Cascades will have you returning year after year. The first is the White Pass Cross Nordic Center, which you should contact for hours of operation and cost. You’ll find 11 miles of groomed trails with routes available for all ages and abilities.
In addition, it is close to the amenities at the White Pass Ski Area. Those hoping for something off the beaten path need to head down to Mount St. Helens and ski the Sasquatch Loop. The loop trail is 8 miles round trip and has 740 feet of elevation gain, giving incredible views. You’ll need a Sno-Park pass to explore the loop, but once you have it, you can go numerous places around the state.
The Olympic Peninsula
Best known for winter walks in the rainforest and coast, Hurricane Ridge is a winter dreamland. At Hurricane Ridge, you’ll find sweeping views of the Pacific Northwest on about 20 miles of trails. Nothing is groomed, so this area is for those looking for a wild and wonderful time a mile above sea level.
Central and Eastern Washington
Near Lake Chelan, find 25 miles of groomed trails at Echo Ridge Ski Area. A season pass is available at a modest rate, giving incredible wanderings in the beautiful landscape around Washington’s deepest lake. Further east, Mount Spokane is an Inland Empire’s classic cross country skiing destination. With more than 30 miles to ski and trails for all levels, Mount Spokane is worth the drive from anywhere in the state. A few days a week, you can bring your dog and try skijoring. Please inquire within for rules and regulations on the four-legged fun.
–Written by Douglas Scott, last updated in September 2022
–Top image of Artist Point Near Mount Baker. Photo by EDB3_16/Getty Images