Are you an outdoor enthusiast looking for a fun way to explore Spokane in the winter months? If so, snowshoeing is an awesome option!
With plenty of trails available throughout the area, it's easy to enjoy a tranquil walk through dusted terrain and take in all the beauty that nature has to offer. Even if you're new to snowshoeing, there are some great beginner trails right here in Spokane with inspiring views and moderate difficulty levels.
In this post, we’ve rounded up our six favorite beginner-friendly snowshoeing trails near Spokane so that you can start your adventure today!
Where to Find Snowshoes in Spokane
What can you do if you don’t own a pair of snowshoes?
Thankfully, there are a lot of great ways of procuring gear for your next adventure! Here are some options:
- Borrowing snowshoes from a friend. Not only is this option free, but your friend can give you tips for a secure fit, or tricks to make them fit just right.
- Rent a pair for the day. Rent them from Fitness Fanatics (starting at $25 per day), from Rambleraven, or from REI in Spokane!
- Purchase a new pair. If you imagine yourself enjoying snowshoeing for many seasons to come, invest in your own pair!
What Passes do I Need?
First, let’s talk about passes and permits. What kind do you need and where do they apply?
Here are the tricks to figuring out the right pass for your snowshoe adventure:
Northwest Forest Pass: This pass is required for any national forest area that has a parking lot and a bathroom at the trailhead. Buy passes here.
Idaho State Park Passport: The state park passport gives you access to all state parks across Idaho. For Idaho residents, the pass is $10, and Washington residents can purchase a Motor Vehicle Entry Fee (MVEF) Annual sticker for $80. Buy passes here.
Non-Motorized Sno-Park Permit: This permit gives you access to hiking and snowshoe trails, as well as sledding hills and other snow-play sports across all Washington State Sno-Parks. These passes are valid from November 1st to April 30th. Buy passes here.
Special-Groomed Trail Permit: In conjunction with the Non-Motorized Sno-Park Permit, some areas (like the Selkirk Lodge area on Mount Spokane) require the additional Special-Groomed Trail Permit Sticker. This helps fund trail maintenance in these popular areas. Buy permits here.
Good to know: The most common combination of permits are the Non-Motorized Sno-Park Permit and the Special-Groomed Trail Permit. The combined price for the entire season (November 1st - April 30th) is $120 and it gives you access to the most possible snowshoe trails in Washington.
6 Beginner-Friendly Snowshoe Trails Near Spokane, Washington
1. Bead Lake Trail
- Location: Colville National Forest
- Distance: 2-10 miles out-and-back
- Elevation Gain: 200 - 1,600 feet
Bead Lake Trail is located about an hour north of Spokane, in the Colville National Forest. Because it is a popular route and heavily used, the trail is easy to find and follow. The trail meanders through the dense trees and provides frequent views of the lake below.
Bead Lake Trail is a great option for snowshoe beginners! This is an out-and-back trail that follows the outline of the lake. There are a handful of backcountry campgrounds along the way, which make convenient and easy turnaround points for whenever you feel like heading back.
2. Centennial Snowshoe Hut via Mount Kit Carson Loop
- Location: Mount Spokane State Park
- Distance: 2.8 miles out-and-back
- Elevation Gain: 495 feet
If you are trying out snowshoeing with the whole family, this is the trail to take! This gradual incline hike is wide and easy to follow and wanders through the tall evergreen trees of Mount Spokane.
In the end, snowshoers are greeted with a comforting respite - a warming hut! Inside, you can kick off your snowshoes, sit at some inside picnic tables, and enjoy a fire in the wood-burning fireplace. Wood, lighters, and newspaper and provided by a volunteer group that keeps the hut open.
Pack a thermos of cocoa and a lunch to enjoy during your break!
3. Rocks of Sharon - Dishman Hill Conservation Area
- Location: Valleyford, Washington
- Distance: 7.3-mile loop
- Elevation Gain: 1,700 feet
The Dishman Hill Conservation Area (Iller Creek Unit) is a convenient place to go snowshoeing. Located just 30 minutes from downtown, it’s a convenient location to reach if you’re visiting and staying in Spokane, especially downtown. For residents, this area is easy to reach if you live on the South Hill, Spokane Valley, or Liberty Lake.
This loop is on the longer side (7.3 miles) so pack a good day pack full of snacks, a thermos, and warm layers. The climb is worth every step - at the top of the hill, you can see the expansive Palouse farmland and Steptoe Butte in the distance.
Conditions change on this trail quite often. Snow drifts, wind, and downed trees are common here, so we recommend checking recent reviews on All Trails when planning your trip
4. Quartz Mountain Loop
- Location: Mount Spokane State Park
- Distance: 4.5 miles out-and-back
- Elevation Gain: 685 feet
Quartz Mountain Loop is located in the Nordic Ski Area of Mount Spokane State Park. Parking at the Selkirk Lodge, you can expect a myriad of groomed trails that weave in and out through the evergreen trees, with pockets of incredible PNW views!
You can choose to hike whatever route you please (there are maps and signs everywhere) or you could venture up to check out Quartz Mountain Fire Lookout. From the top, you can enjoy unobstructed views of Newman Lake in Washington and Spirit Lake in Idaho! This area requires a double permit - a Washington Sno-Park Pass as well as a Special Grooms permit. A day permit is $25, while a whole season combined permit is $120, spanning from November 1 to April 30th.
5. Snowshoeing at Schweitzer Mountain
- Location: Schweitzer Mountain Ski Resort
- Distance: 1-3 miles
- Elevation Gain: ~100 Feet
If you are a complete beginner and would like some more structure on your first snowshoe trail experience, try booking a guided snowshoe tour at Schweitzer Mountain!
Schweitzer offers several guided trips in December and on weekends during the winter season. There are three routes that you can choose from, between wandering through an old growth forest, hiking on the summit, and even hiking under the moonlight!
These tours are geared toward beginner to moderate hikers, which generally translates to teens and adults. However, if you have kids that have experience with snowshoeing, they would be able to join you.
Guided tours range from $25 group trips to $45 private tours, and that includes snowshoe rentals and trail fees.
6. Turtle Rock Loop - McKenzie Conservation Area
- Location: Newman Lake, Washington
- Distance: 2.2-mile loop
- Elevation Gain: 272 Feet
Turtle Rock and Bedrock Ridge Loop is a mellow trail system perfect for people just dipping their toes into snowshoeing! Here in the McKenzie Conservation Area, don’t be surprised if you catch a moose wading in the water, an eagle catching fish for breakfast, or a group or quail bouncing between bush hideouts.
The trail will wind you through cedar and conifer trees, eventually leading you to the lake’s edge. Stay here awhile, and enjoy the stunning views of Mount Spokane and Ragged Ridge!
Tip: Before heading out, check the parking lot webcam to check on recent weather and conditions.