snowshowing lake Wenatchee washington

Winter Wonderland: A Guide for Snowshoeing at Lake Wenatchee State Park

The stunning Lake Wenatchee State Park is just over Steven’s Pass’s eastern side. As a newer member of the Washington tribe, I’d never put much thought into this area vs the more popular Leavenworth area.

However, with winter limiting most mountain hiking, snowshoeing at Lake Wenatchee State Park looked like an incredible way to get outside. And it was. We had an epic time embarking on our Lake Wenatchee snowshoeing excursions.

A first-hand account of my trip

After some recent snowfall, the trees were covered in snow, and the lake glistened as snow hugged its shoreline. It, indeed, was a magical winter wonderland. The only negative was how cold it was. The daytime temperatures hovered around 19 degrees for my first time here. The second time was a balmy 28.

However, once you started moving, it wasn’t too bad. But as the sun began to fade and we took photos on the shoreline, it got frigid.

Remember to bring plenty of warm gear and some hot cocoa to enjoy if you plan to stay for sunset or longer.

Looking for winter gear? Check out my winter guide.
Explore Mt. Rainier in Winter

A Guide to Snowshoeing at Lake Wenatchee

Is snowshoeing at Lake Wenatchee State Park worth it?

It absolutely is worth it. The Lake Wenatchee snowshoeing is on the easier side, so it is family-friendly (we even saw a school bus full of kids one time) and offers an excellent chance to get outside and enjoy time in nature.

How long is the drive from Seattle?

The drive from Seattle is 2.5 hours, though, in the winter, it can be much longer if the roads are snowy and there is a lot of traffic. Make sure to check the road conditions and road cameras before traveling.

How far is Lake Wenatchee State Park from Leavenworth?

It is a 25-minute drive to Leavenworth from the lake. It’s super easy and a beautiful drive.

Do I need 4×4/AWD to go snowshoeing at Lake Wenatchee?

No, you do not need to have this to do Lake Wenatchee snowshoeing, but it definitely will help give you more traction and safely navigate the roads. If it’s snowed recently, I would highly recommend it, but if there hasn’t been snow for a period of time, you’re likely okay.

Where to go snowshoeing at Lake Wenatchee

Both snowshoeing routes at Lake Wenatchee State Park are in the realm of 2.5 miles. All of the routes are loops and you will end where you started.

Lake Wenatchee Snowshoeing: Southside

If you go snowshoeing at Lake Wenatchee State Park, a nice three-mile loop starts on the lake shore and takes you away from the lake.

South Route All Trails link.

The trail begins at Lake Wenatchee State Park’s south parking lot and hikes along the shore of the lake. After a third of a mile, you’ll turn and hike away from the lake and into the forest. Most of it is flat, with a couple of inclines/declines.

Lake Wenatchee Snowshoeing: Northside

The north side of Lake Wenatchee is a 2.5-mile snowshoeing trail that is predominately flat outside of a few minor uphill and downhill sections. Your hike begins from the parking lot and brings you along the lake at the beginning.

North Route AllTrails

You’ll leave the lake briefly before coming back to it for a final view. For the next two miles, you won’t be hiking next to the lake. The forest, though, was magnificent, and we were the only group snowshoeing.

I will note that at the one-mile mark, there are two ways to return to the car. You can take the “Easy” route, which is a half-mile. Or you can take the “Outer Limits,” which is 1.3 miles. We did the longer route, which was still easy, and loved being in solitude.

Which side is better for snowshoeing at Lake Wenatchee?

After snowshoeing on both sides, both sides have their pros and cons. However, for the sake of an answer, the north side is less crowded and offers more peaceful hiking through the snow-covered forests.

That being said, on a clear day, the south side offers the best views of the lake and mountains. But if there are low clouds, you won’t get to see the mountain peaks.

What to know about Lake Wenatchee snowshoeing

Sno-Park Pass Mandatory

Even though it’s a state park, your state park pass does not work during winter. Instead, you have to buy a Sno-Park pass, which was $25 for the day, or you can buy a winter pass for $50. You can get one here.

Two sides of Lake Wenatchee State Park

There’s a north and a south entrance. Both are within a mile of each other, so you can easily visit both locations in a single trip.

Small Store on the southside

After snowshoeing at Lake Wenatchee’s northside, we stopped over on the south side for some hot chocolate. The store offers small goodies and hot drinks for before/after your day’s activities.

Cannot Rent on Site

There are no snowshoes to rent on site. You need to bring them with you. Either purchase them online or rent them from various places such as REI or outfitters in Leavenworth.

Snowshoeing and Cross Country Skiing

There’s a dedicated snowshoe path and cross-country ski route. When snowshoeing at Lake Wenatchee, you have to stay on your snowshoeing trail, except when crossing, or you risk being fined.

Driving in the area

The first time I visited in 2022, we took my Prius. The snow level was low, and it handled the inch or so of snow just fine. We did have chains, just in case. However, the January 2024 trip had a lot more snow, so we brought the 4Runner.

We didn’t have any issue with 4×4, but we probably would not have had a good time in a 2WD sedan.

This area gets far colder than on the western side of the cascades, so drive with caution.

When does the Sno Park Pass end?

It ends on April 30th, 2024.

Winter Camping is permitted

If you enjoy the cold and want to sleep outside during winter, you’re allowed to camp at Lake Wenatchee State Park. We saw a handful of tens set up right by the playground area and just 30 yards from the store.

Camping costs $20 per night in addition to having your Sno-Park Pass. Please do it in the South Park Day Use Parking Lot.

What to know about camping here:

  • The area has fire pits, picnic tables, a heated restroom, showers, potable water, and 2 covered shelters with wood stoves nearby
  • All exterior water has been turned off.
  • The Camp Store will be open on the weekends in January and February. 

Tips for Snowshoeing at Lake Wenatchee State Park

  • Plan for 2-3 hours to give yourself enough time to enjoy the area
  • Stop in Leavenworth afterward and check it out. It’s a cute town!
  • Look at my winter gear guide if you need warm gear ideas or winter hiking boots.
  • Drive safely. It might have been a weird climate day, but we found it about 12 degrees colder than Steven’s Pass.

Gear Options for Snowshoeing at Lake Wenatchee State Park

Lodging Options for a weekend in Leavenworth

If you’re planning to spend the night or weekend in Leavenworth, here are a few options to check out. (Or click search on your own: |

Budget Travel: Linderhof Inn (Expedia/
Mid-Tier: Hotel Leavenworth, LOGE Leavenworth (Book on
Luxury Stay: Icicle Village Resort (

If you want cheaper options, staying in Cashmere or Wenatchee are options. This is about a 15-30 minute drive.

Coast Wenatchee Center Hotel
Red Lion Hotel
Best Western Chieftain Inn
Cashmere Inn (I’ve stayed here. It’s a cute little spot. Nothing fancy, but it gets the job done.)
Comfort Suites Wenatchee

Things to do in Leavenworth in the Winter

With major hiking out of the question, like the Enchantments, there’s not as much to do in Leavenworth. That being said, it is still a lovely area to spend time in, and they leave their lights up for a while (into late January at least, which makes for a festive time.)

  • Sledding: Small sledding hill in the main area for younger kids
  • Enjoy Bavarian food. Pretzels, beers, and brats!
  • Go window shopping
  • Enjoy wine tasting: There are a half dozen or more places to choose from.

Final Suggestions about Lake Wenatchee snowshoeing

I love snowshoeing at Lake Wenatchee State Park. It’s a great time and allows you to get out for an easy but stunning trip outside. With how rainy Seattle is, it’s nice to find a chance to stay active. If you’re considering going snowshoeing, do it here!

But the best part is its family-friendly nature, allowing everyone to get out.

Until next time adventurers, take care and be safe.

Subscribe to my blog!

Follow my adventures on TikTokFacebook, and Instagram.

Looking for other top Washinton hikes? Check out my top ones here.

Author: Alec Sills-Trausch

Title: Founder of Explore with Alec

Expertise: Hiking, Backpacking, Photography, and Road Trips

Alec Sills-Trausch is a hiker, backpacker, landscape photographer, and syndicated travel writer. He enjoys showing off the beauty of the world through his photos, videos, and written work on Alec is also a 2x cancer survivor and bone marrow transplant recipient, showing the world that there is a future from this terrible disease.

He lives in Washington, where he gets to enjoy the stunning PNW mountains in addition to all the other places he attempts to visit each year! You can see more work on IG at @AlecOutside