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Snowshoeing at Longmire

Easy trip to the mountain

Boy Scout Troop 436 heads out on the Rampart Ridge Trail. Photo credit: Rachanee Curry, Troop 436

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Snowshoeing is a fun, easy-to-learn winter sport, and one of the most accessible areas to try it out is Longmire in Mount Rainier National Park.

Plan your trip

This time of year, the weather is unpredictable in Mount Rainier National Park. Plan to get an early start, but always check the park's website ( for the latest weather and road closures before heading out. Dress for the weather: Layers are recommended, as are waterproof clothes and boots.  Limited food is available in the park, so pack snacks, lunch and water.  Bring tire chains.

Try before you buy

Plan to rent snowshoes at Whittaker Mountaineering in Ashford. Conveniently located a few miles before the Nisqually Entrance to the park, it has a wide variety of rental items in addition to snowshoes. A set of snowshoes with poles is $15 for the day, and winter boots are $10. Snowshoes are easy to fit onto your own winter boots.  

"Snowshoeing is a great entry-level snow sport," said manager Rebecca Brooks. "It is good for many different fitness levels and ages.  It is a great way to enjoy winter at Rainier."  

The staff at Whittaker is very friendly and helpful in getting your gear together.

Longmire. From Ashford, it's a 20-minute drive to Longmire.  There is a $25 park entrance fee payable at the Nisqually Entrance station.  Military members and their families qualify for a free annual National Park pass - just show your military identification card at the station.  The advantage of Longmire over Paradise for snowshoeing is that once you pass Longmire, depending on road conditions, you will need to stop and put on snow chains, which can be a time-consuming chore. Once at Longmire, find a place to park. There are a variety of trails perfect for snowshoeing that range, from easy to strenuous.  The Longmire Museum is open year-round and has trail information.  

Two trails have similar start points and are a good choice if part of your group is looking for more of a challenge.  Cross the main road in front of Longmire.

Trail of the Shadows. This is a good beginner trail and is perfect for those with small children.  It is an easy 0.7-mile, relatively flat trail. The scenic, self-guided loop circles around the Longmire Meadow. Signs help hikers learn more about the early history of the Longmire Spring Resort.

Rampart Ridge. This is considered a moderate trail, but it has a steep start. The trail is a 4.6-mile loop with 1,339-foot elevation gain.  Beginning at the Trail of the Shadows, it starts a steep climb through the forest.  Once on the ridge top, there are vistas with views of Mt. Rainier and the Nisqually River Valley.

Safety note:  Be aware of tree wells. For those not used to the heavy snows of the western Cascades, this is a new term.  As snow piles up, a void or area of loose snow forms around trees and is similar to a well.  Falling into one can result in severe injury or death.

Whittaker Mountaineering, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekends, 30027 WA-706, Ashford, 360.569.2142,

Mount Rainier National Park, open daily except during extreme weather, 39000 State Route 706 E., Ashford, 360.569.2211,

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