Strapping on snowshoes and warm gear is one of the easiest ways to get out and get active in the the Northwest woods in winter. The Mount Baker-Snoqualmie Forest Service offers guided treks for a small donation. They’ll even provide the snowshoes if you don’t have your own. Wear layered and insulated clothing, hats and gloves, and sturdy, waterproof shoes or boots, and head for following trails:
Make reservations Jan. 12 to Feb. 24 at Skykomish Ranger District, 360-677-2414. Meet at the Forest Service Guard Station by Parking Lot A at Stevens Pass. Sultan Shuttle offers transportation from Sultan to the resort. Check www.stevenspass.com/Stevens/the-mountain/sultan-shuttle.aspx for fees and schedules. A donation is suggested of $15 for adults and $10 for youth 16 and under.
• Introductory snowshoeing, 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Learn about area history, the winter ecosystem and wildlife on 90-minute walk. Reservations recommended, but drop-ins are welcome. Group limited to 20.
• Junior Snow Ranger, 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Children ages 6 to 12 can learn about the winter ecosystem and wildlife on the Pacific Crest Trail, and also earn a Junior Snow Ranger patch. Group limited to 20.
Darrington Ranger District
Make reservations by calling Darrington Ranger District at 360-436-1155. Meet at Verlot Public Service Center for orientation then on to Deer Creek to begin the 4-mile, approximately 5-hour snowshoe hike. Participants should be age 16 or older and in good shape. A $20 donation is suggested.
• Big Four Ice Cave Snowshoe Walk 8:30 a.m. Saturdays, Feb. 2 to March 2. Learn about winter in the national forest. Group limited to 18.
Make reservations at 509-852-1062 before Dec. 20, and 425-434-6111 after. Trips for special events and school groups can also be scheduled. Office hours are 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays.Meet 15 minutes early at the visitor center off I-90, exit 52, at Snoqualmie Pass. A donation is suggested of $15 for adults, $10 for youth 16 and under, and $25 per person for the half-day hikes and photography outings. Reservations are required for all programs.
• 90-Minute Trek, 10 and 11:30 a.m., and 1 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Learn about the winter ecosystem, wildlife and safety on a 1-mile loop walk through old-growth forest. Group limited to 20.
• Half-Day Hikes, 9 a.m. Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. Experience Commonwealth Basin in the winter surrounded by the Cascade crest peaks on four- to five-hour trek. Bring a lunch.
• Winter Photography Outings, 9:30 a.m. Jan. 19, Feb. 2 and 16, and March 2, 16 and 31. Geared for photography enthusiasts of all abilities at Commonwealth Creek. Guide will discuss light, composition and exposure. Four- to five-hour trek, so bring a lunch.
• Kids in the Snow, 1 p.m. Saturdays beginning Jan. 12. Learn about tracking, crawl into a snow cave and check out a snow crystal with a magnifier on this approximately 90-minute walk. Earn a Junior Ranger Snow membership and patch.
• Guided Nordic Ski Trip, 10-11:30 a.m. Saturdays, Jan. 12, 19 and 26, and Feb. 2, 9 and 16. Begin at Grand Junction on the Mount Catherine Loop. Purchase a ski ticket, ride the ski lift and meet the group at the hut. You will ski from there making stops to learn about the area’s history, forest and wildlife.
• Day in the Snow, 10 and 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. Jan. 19. Take off on one of three different 1-mile loop outings and learn about the history and stories of the region. Hosted by Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust.
Mount Baker Ranger District
Make reservations at 360-599-9572, weekends 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Meet at the Glacier Public Service Center, milepost 34, Mount Baker Highway. Group will leave from there to the snowshoe walk location along the Hannegan Road, Heather Meadows or another setting in the Mount Baker District. A donation is suggested of $15 for adults and $10 for youth 16 and under. Reservations are required.
• Ranger Guided Snowshoe Walk, 10 a.m. Sundays, Jan. 13 and 27, and Feb. 3, 10 and 24; 10 a.m. Fridays, Jan. 18 and Feb. 15. Learn about winter in the national forest. Group limited to 15.
For more information, see www.fs.usda.gov/mbs and select “Guided Snowshoe Walks Explore Winter Beauty.”