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Backpacker Magazine – January 2009

Weekend Snow Climbs in the Pacific Northwest, Rockies, and Northeast

Pack snowshoes for these nine epic treks to snowy solitude in the Pacific Northwest, Rockies, and Northeast.

by: Steve Johnson

Rocky Mountain National Park, CO (Tom Bol)
Rocky Mountain National Park, CO (Tom Bol)

Pacific Northwest | Rockies | Northeast


2 Days
Mount Massive Wilderness, CO

Pack glacier glasses for the eight-mile above-treeline Highline Loop, a route connecting the Rock Creek, Colorado, and Highline Trails. From Leadville National Fish Hatchery, ascend Rock Creek 2.5 miles to the CT. Look for blue blazes heading south. At mile four, go west on the HT for .5 mile to top an unnamed 11,220-foot peak for views of Mt. Massive. Camp near Evergreen Lakes and resume the eastbound trek on the HT to close the loop.

3 Days
Black Canyon of the Yellowstone, WY and MT

It's all downhill (no joke) on this 20-mile point-to-point from the Hellroaring trailhead. You'll S-turn past Garnet Hill and drop to a bridge over the Yellowstone River. Veer west to camp near Cottonwood Creek. Next day: Trace the creek six miles to Camp Two, near Knowles Falls. At Bear Creek, detour one mile upstream for an optional trek up 6,200-foot Deckard Flats. It's 2.5 miles to finish up at Gardiner trailhead.

4 Days
Rocky Mountain National Park, CO

The Bear Lake area's life-list scenery is all yours come winter. Self-register at the Glacier Gorge Junction trailhead and head south for a 24-miler. Camp at Black Lake (below the near-vertical Sharkstooth) and Emerald Lake before nine stiff out-and-back miles on the last day. You'll ascend 12,324-foot Flattop Mountain's 30° slope to the Continental Divide.

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Reader Rating: Star Star Star Star Star


Jeff Z
Jan 17, 2010

How about Mt. San Antonio,or Old Baldy in SoCal. you can take the metrolink from downtown LA to about a mile from the base of the mountain and it's over 10,000'? it's a real mountaineering experience that gets overlooked everywhere. i can hardly find anything about it on the internet, why has Backpacker forsaken this mountain?

Jan 16, 2010

hey Oregon hiker, I to got the Cali boys back an I didn't click on anything. Backpacker, show some love... every one knows the left coast is the best coast!

Jan 07, 2010

Varlo, there is plenty of steeper terrain that you can't skin up on skis that snowshoes work fine with. In addition, not everyone has the $$ that an AT setup costs and so snowshoes provide a low cost alternative

Jan 07, 2010

Snowshoeing??? Really??? C'mon you guys, snowshowing is for people from Boston anyway. Get yourself some backcountry skis and learn how to use them and you'll likely (hopefully) never have do use snowshoes again!

Mar 14, 2009

I snowshoed Pharaoh Wilderness 7-11 March 09 under springlike conditions, with one day of continuous snowfall. My route took me in from Crane Pond Rd TH via Oxshoe Pond LT overnight, then on to Pharaoh Lake LT4 at Split Rock Bay via the swing trail (not the Pharaoh Mt peak trail). The upper portion of the Swing Trail, before the pass into Pharaoh Lake, was a morass of melting beaver ponds with deep drifts. I was unable to follow the yellow DEC blazes there( the beavers take down the trees with the markers), and had to bushwhack in by GPS in a snowstorm. Although most trails had been packed before, rain and new snow tended to obscure them. I did not meet anyone in the Wilderness in the course of 4 days; at the trail head parking, I talked with two parties experienced with Pharoah. One had spent an unplanned overnight on Pharaoh Mt in a leaf heap in October after the trail became a bushwhack; the second got lost in the same beaver pond area I did and bushwhacked through by GPS. I had a great time.

Oregon hiker
Feb 14, 2009

Hey LLCoolJ, if you want to read about Cali so much, why did you click on the Pacific Northwest link. Try the other link that actually includes the California area. And maybe take a geography class...

Feb 13, 2009

The pharoah lake area is well marked by the DEC. The trails are heavily used. GPS waypoints seem like overkill but each to their own.

Goin back to Cali to Cali to Cal
Feb 13, 2009

And California being a giant state, with many mountain - not on your list? Why not? oh yes... its because you don't have any permanent reporters in southern california.... You're a northeast Boston NY newspaper, and that is why I cancelled my subscription.

Goin back to Cali to Cali to Cal
Feb 13, 2009

And California being a giant state, with many mountain - not on your list? Why not? oh yes... its because you don't have any permanent reporters in southern california.... You're a northeast Boston NY newspaper, and that is why I cancelled my subscription.

Jim Larsen
Feb 12, 2009

SE Wyoming offers some spectacular snow shoeing opportunities on short runs (morning/afternoon or 1 day)

Get lost in Medicine Bow Forest either at Happy Jack or over by the Snowy Range Ski Resort. a bonus keep your eye out for kimberlite as the area is said to have many opportunities for diamonds!

Walt/ narbowalt
Feb 10, 2009

The link is a very general reference indeed. Why isn't there a reference to a hike with GPS waypoints? Winter hikers need backup data, as it is easy to lose a trail under snow conditions. See and search Pharoah for recent trip reports and trail conditions.


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