Hike description: When winter lays a soft white blanket in North Bend, head farther east to Lake Easton State Park, elevation 2,200 feet. There you’ll find a quiet park with tall trees and looping trails for beginning snowshoers and cross-country skiers. Take the trail out across the bridge on the lake and take the first right to do the loops counter clockwise. The optional Wait Station Loop is a black diamond trek for the steep hill it loops up and over. Just past the Wait Station Loop is an intersection to access the John Wayne trail. You can turn left and explore views of Lake Easton from the second bridge, or turn right and head another 1.3 miles to a view of the Yakima River. Head back the way you came and into the trees at the park. When you return to the loops, turn right and take the other leg back to the cars.
Directions: Drive Interstate 90 to Exit 70. Take the frontage road east to the park entrance. Park in the day-use area. Find the groomed trail at the I-90 end of the non-motorized parking area.
Difficulty: 1 (1 is easiest; 5, most difficult)
Miles round-trip: 6
Elevation: 200 feet
Best time of year: January to March
Map: www.parks.wa.gov. Click on Winter Recreation, Sno-Park locations, non-motorized Sno-Parks.
Pass: Day or annual Sno-Park pass with groomed trails sticker
Also: On any winter trips, you should be sure to check for avalanche (Northwest Avalanche Center at www.nwac.us) and road conditions (WSDOT mountain pass conditions at www.wsdot.wa.gov/Traffic/passes/default.aspx). Check the Washington State Parks Web site for information on the Sno-Park system and the map for this trip. Recent experience has shown that there is no grace period for a Sno-Park Pass. Work crews are generally out during the week on a regular grooming schedule (check the Web site) and to clean up after bad weather. Note that Lake Easton is the venue for some winter events that will bring more vehicles to the park and more people to the trails.
Info: For regulations and information, including grooming schedule, call 509-656-2230 or visit www.parks.wa.gov/winter/trails; “100 Best Cross-country Ski Trails in Washington,” Mountaineers Books.
This Hike of the Week is presented by the Hiking/Backpacking Committees of the Olympia and Tacoma branches of The Mountaineers.