I got some new snow shoes (never done snow shoeing before), and wanted to get out on the 2nd weekend in January, to try them out. The closest place with possible snow is the Marble Mountain Sno-park, located on the south side of Mount St. Helens, in southwest Washington. I hadn’t been in that area yet this winter, so I had no first-hand information about the snow-conditions there.
The snow report on the Gifford Pinchot National Forest web site reported 8 inches at the park, but the data, being 2 weeks old, was obviously outdated. With current poor snow conditions here in Northwest, the snow conditions change quite rapidly.
The June Lake snow sensors have been measuring about 22” of snow in recent days. So I figured if there is no snow at the snow park, I should still find snow on the higher elevations.
The plan was to park at the Marble Mountain sno-park, and hike to the June Lake trailhead, and up to June Lake. I would carry the snow shoes and put them on once there was enough snow on the trail.
When the weekend came around, the snow level came down far enough to add a few inches of snow at the park.
I headed out there with one of my buddies, he using my cross-country skis, and me using the new snow shoes.
There were indeed a few inches of new snow at the park, and on road 83, going east from the park. The road is gated in the winter, and designated for snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing.
The skiing was fine on the road, but it was barely enough snow for the snow shoes. I kept hitting the hard ground with the pegs on my snow shoes. Many of the people on the road carried their snow shoes.
Once we reached the June Lake trail head, the snow depth on the trail was around 8” in the open areas. But as soon as we were in the woods, the trail was almost bare. I would have done just fine without the snow shoes…
It was still a great hike, and June Lake was very beautiful!
We continued our hike further up to the tree line. I kept the snow shoes on, but my buddy left the skis at the Lake, since the trail up past the lake was too steep for skis. Now the snow shoes came in handy, giving a good grip with the pegs.
Not too many days after our weekend hike, the new snow had already melted, and the road at the park was bare.
Now, a week later, the snow level is forecast to come down to 1000 feet this weekend, with several inches of snowfall. The park being at 2700 feet, should get a fair blanket of snow for skiing and snowshoeing.
The nearby Cougar sno-park is on a lower elevation, and will not get as much snow as the Marble Mountain park.
If you plan to head to the Marble Mountain area for snow activities, you need to check the latest snow conditions and forecasts, since, as I mentioned in the beginning of the article, the snow conditions can change so fast. One day there could be several inches of snow, and a few days later it might be all gone.
You can watch my video of this hike, on Youtube: June Lake Trail Snowshoe Hike January 2012