Snowshed Head is a hidden gem and treasure right off of Snoqualmie Pass and is very close to I-90. Snowshed Head is named after the former I-90 shed that was remove in 2014 when the road was being enlarged. This snowshed was built to block avalanche from falling onto motor vehicles on the northbound lane. Shockingly for an I-90 peak this summit receives little or no foot traffic. Perhaps because this summit is too easy for most to want to spend two hours on it. At under one mile round-trip and 400 feet of elevation gain this mountain is simple enough to be appropriate for all ages, and is a great small hike for families, and is rather ideal for families. Most families can be done with this hike in under two hours while many peakbaggers will take less than an hour to complete this summit.
The great thing about the views on Snowshoe Head is that it has great views of Lake Keechelus (which means “Few fish” in the Indian language) and surrounding mountains to the south and Mount Margaret to the North. The views here are unique to this mountain of Lake Keechelus and of Tinkham peak and Mount Catherine to the west. Though there is no true panorama due to some of the forest on the summit there are a number of nice open fields along the entire up ridge making the final bit to the summit very enjoyable.
There are certain interesting facts to know about this summit. The first is that on the bulk of the ridge one can see a lot of equipment used in winter to control avalanches. Avalanches in the past have caused a a lot of problems from this mountain so now highway crews have set up ways to control avalanche on this mountain to safely prevent avalanches from hitting I-90. While on top you can see all the ways that are able to set these avalanches off on the mountain.
From I-90 Two miles east of Snoqualmie Pass: Take exit 54 (Hyak/Gold Creek exit). Head north onto WA-906 for a couple hundred feet. Make a right onto NF-4832 and stay on it for eight miles. You will go up a number of switchbacks and then pass a turn-off to your left at 7.6 miles. Stay to the right and pass Resort Creek Pond on your left. Your turnoff will be on the right-hand side. The gravel road portion is not as well kept as some have written about and have deep potholes that you need to navigate around and it turns into one of those one lane roads where cars from the other direction can come. Though it is doable for a passenger car use caution right as of 2014 until this road gets resurfaced.
SUMMER ROUTE: The actual trail starts off a bit steep. The trail starts off about 30 feet from the road and can be pretty hard to spot. The side trail leads to views from the western sub peak. This trail is a little more open and slightly exposed offering a little more dramatic views from the sub peak that the true summit. The main trail leads to beautiful views of Lake Keechelus and you can see the lake in prominence when you get to the top along with I-90.
The main trail fades a little bit as you get closer to the summit. This trail is marked with beautiful wildflowers and lot of bright greenery to dot the trail. There are snow wires and adders for controlling avalanches in the winter where professionals set off dynamite to prevent avalanches below. If you do not know what they are, they might look a little out of place, odd and intimidating. However, once you know what they are, it is very interesting that they do make you feel that you are directly tied into the Pass. There are a fair amount of mosquitos and other small flying critters on the trail during the summer, so make sure to bring your bug spray. The nice and wonderful thing for any hiker on Snowshoe Head is that there is a little effort for a lot of reward, and the lakes reveal themselves in majestic and tranquil beauty below.
WINTER ROUTE: In winter this hike is a much longer trip provided that you don't have a snowmobile. There used to be sign telling others to keep out during the heart of winter due to avalanche blasting. Hike at your own risk The road that you drove in summer will now be snowcovered and you will either have to snowshoe or snowmobile to the summit. This will still be easy enough for most to do in a day but it will add 9 more miles in 1000 feet of elevation gain to your trip UNLESS YOU HAVE A SNOWMOBILE!! Watch out for high avalanche day because on top they will be setting off controlled avalanches up there.