On my first snowshoeing of the season, I wanted it to be easy. So my friends and I set out to Barlow Pass. We first stopped by the MT Baker/Snoqualmie Ranger Station (which is located after Granite Falls) to check out the National Forest Highway 20 (Mountain Loop Hwy). The Forest Ranger said that Barlow Pass was open and had about 12 inches of pressed powder on the ground.
So we jumped into my Subaru and set out for Barlow Pass. You will drive about seventeen miles on a good road, with a few graveled sections and downed trees. A well maintained road. After the Barlow Pass parking area, you have a gentle climb. Hike about a mile. Here you cross over a large volcanic outcrop. Then another half mile you reach a signed junction. Keep right. You will see in front of you the Big Four Mountain and Hall Peak. To the Northeast the Mount Pugh and Bedal Peak. I also partially saw Silvertip and Sheep Mountain. Do remember to bring a map to identify the peaks. It was a perfect day to snowshoe. No wind, no rain and absolutely no bears! Just the magnificent peaks above you and the fresh packed powder of whiteness below your feet.
We trekked about one mile to the river, because the river had a lot of down trees. So we only did a little over two miles on that trail. But on the way back, we stopped by the Ice Caves and did a short hike.
Barlow Pass elevation gain is 720m, 2,362 feet. It is on the west side of the Cascade Range in Washington State. It is on the Mountain Loop Hwy between Silverton and Darrington. It is a great trail for snowshoe beginners.
I plan to go back and do some snowshoeing on the Monte Cristo trail, which is located just off the Barlow Pass trail. Both trail head's are popular all year round. But on the Monti Cristo trail head you will hike up to an old mining town of the 1890's (4 miles one way). Got to love snowshoeing, and spending time in the winter wonderland of snow and ice.
"That figure whose attitude best expresses the passion that moves it is most worthy of praise." -LEONARDO DA VINCI
Remember you need a MT Baker day pass to park your vehicle at the Barlow Pass trail head parking area.