Just seven days ago I was out in the warm Spring sunshine doing some yard work. We even mowed the lawn. Then, it snowed! Since you can’t change the weather, you might as well embrace it and enjoy. That is exactly what I did. With a nice six inches of fresh powder on top of the winter’s base layer of snow it was the perfect moment to combine a hike with the more moderate weather and the beautiful sunshine that came after the fresh snow up on the flanks of Mt. Adams.

Fresh snow atop a good base layer.

Now, I’m not an avid snow-shoe hiker, I’m just a beginner and I’m really enjoying a couple of the recreational aspects of the activity. So, coming from a novice standpoint, let me share with you why I enjoy the activity and what you might look forward to as well. Hiking is one of my most favorite things. Just this past couple of weeks I’ve hiked almost 100 miles. Snow shoes gives me an opportunity to change my hiking patterns. It brings me into a slower pace (I tend to hike very fast) and slowing down helps me take in the beautiful details that I might otherwise miss. Being out in the cold while dressing snuggly warm is awesome. Trekking where nobody has yet to leave a track in the snow gives a pioneering feel inside of me. Using snow shoes is a little like defying gravity as you trek through the really deep stuff and for some reason that gives me a sense of awe as I move along. Days where the snow is still heavy on the trees are my favorite especially if the sun has come out and makes everything sparkle. Trail snacks. I love snacks. Every now and then getting a vista view of everything covered in snow. Overall, trekking in the snow is simply peaceful.

It does not take much equipment to get started.

It does not take much to get started. First off, you need to learn how to walk. My mother taught me how to do that when I was very young so I’ve got that one down… most of the time. The simplicity of the equipment is a set of snow-shoes, and a pair of trekking or ski poles. Add some warm clothing and a pair of regular hiking boots, a day pack filled with your back country survival kit and you are ready to go. Wearing the snow-shoes feels a little funny at first, but comparatively speaking they are way easier than wearing and walking with swim flippers. My very first experience was renting the shoes from REI in Portland and hitting the trail with two friends. We were in some really fresh deep powder and I remember that after a bit we thought we did not really need the snow shoes because we were doing so well. So, we slipped out of the snow shoes and sank up to our thighs. It was impressive.

Like walking on air!

Everywhere that there is snow can be a great place to snow shoe. There are ample snow parks around Mt. Adams and Mt. Hood. Groomed trails for cross country skiing and trail heads waiting for your arrival, but my favorite snow shoe sites are the small snowed-in roads off of a main paved road. They are easy to access, plentiful and it’s easy to find a place that you can have all to yourself. If you don’t mind sharing an area with others I’d suggest trekking the old scenic highway out of Hood River. When the town of Hood River gets hit with a big snow, the old highway becomes the perfect snow shoe adventure with some amazing views of the Columbia River Gorge. 

Mt. Adams and Mt. Hood have a multitude of great snow shoeing opportunities.

Enjoy the snow and make a trek through the beautiful Columbia River Gorge when it is covered in snow. A warm greeting awaits you.

As always, never hesitate to ask me a question about all the fun things to do in the Columbia River Gorge. Mark. MarkZ@ZooRaft.com

Older male guide and company owner, Mark, holding his raft paddle and smiling.
Mark Zoller has been guiding whitewater rafting trips on the White Salmon and Klickitat Rivers since 1985. He lives in and loves the Columbia River Gorge