You can’t hike in the winter, said no one. And especially this season in the Pacific Northwest. With less than 10% of the typical annual snow-pack on most of the ski resorts around Washington and Oregon, you don’t have to look far to find snow-free trails to hike.
On a birthday trip to Leavenworth – one that my friends and I planned to ski and snowboard but due to the lack of snow had to find alternate plans –, we stumbled upon a beautiful sunny trail for a wonderful winter hike.
Driving down Icicle Ridge Road to hop on the popular Icicle Ridge trail to hike for a few hours and then head back toward our stone cabin, we did finally find snow though. Stacked on the road, the snow quickly grew from a few slushy inches on the side of the partially paved road to a deep foot blanketing the entire route. A few miles from our intended trailhead, we decided to turn around and retrace our car-tracks to a roadside pull out where we had seen a few cars parked. Luckily there, was another trailhead.
The Fourth of July Trail was listed in my guide book as one of the access points for the Icicle Ridge trail so we grabbed our backpacks and pup and headed upward.
With no clue how long the trail weaved across streams and through the forest toward the ridge, we just took our time and enjoyed the winter warmth as we climbed and stretched out legs. Hiking for a 2-3 miles, we savored the beautiful views as we popped in and out of the trees of the surrounding mountains. The upper ridge kept coming close and then falling out of our reach again and again, so we paused for lunch on a rocky patch and watched afternoon clouds slowly roll in before turning around and heading back to the car.
For a winter hike, I couldn’t have been happier to get out for several miles, move my tired seasonal legs and see the mountains with a few friends in February. But inside, I can’t wait to get out and track more miles this spring and summer around the northwest. Who else is ready for hiking season?
Trail info: Fourth of July Trail | 12.0 miles round trip | 4370 feet | More info on WTA
Check out a few more fun photos from my trip to Leavenworth: