If you’re looking for a great beginner snowshoeing trip, look no further than Commonwealth Basin. Tucked away between Kendall Peak and Guye Peak, Commonwealth Basin offers acres of pristine wilderness that draws snowshoers and cross country skiers alike. Whether you are new to snowshoeing or are simply eager for some backcountry exploration, a winter isn’t quite complete without a hike to Commonwealth Basin.

©Melissa Farage

Set off from the Summit West parking lot and follow 906 under the I-90 underpass. Follow the road for about 100 yards and take a right onto a forest service road. Take the next left to reach the Pacific Crest Trail trailhead. Follow the well-trod PCT trail as it twists and turns through the woods, making its way slowly upwards. The trail gradually grows steeper as it cuts up along the mountain folds, affording stunning views of Guye Peak through the trees. As the trail climbs, the sound of the freeway is slowly drowned out by the trickling of Commonwealth Creek. The trail ascends along a forested ridge, shadowed by the mountains.

After about 2 miles the trail begins to level out, offering a first glimpse of Commonwealth Basin nestled beneath the shadow of craggy Red Mountain. Snowshoers can choose to continue along the Pacific Crest Trail towards Kendall Peak or cross Commonwealth Creak to enjoy the expansive basin. Those who are looking for a quick climb can head over to Guye Peak to enjoy uninterrupted views, while the altitude-adverse can simply set out through the picturesque basin to make a trail of their own.

Note: Don’t forget your map and compass on this hike. While the trail is well-traveled in the winter it isn’t clearly marked for snow travel, and can be confusing within the basin itself. If adverse weather rolls in you might just end up on an overnight.

©Melissa Farage

Trail Details

Distance: 2 miles (one way)

Starting Elevation: 3,000 Feet

Elevation Gain: 500 Feet

Difficulty: Easy

Season: Winter

Open To: Hikers/Backpackers/Skiers/Dogs

Passes/Permits: NW Forest Pass

Facilities at Trailhead: Privy

Maps: USGS: Snoqualmie Pass, WA; Green Trails #207: Snoqualmie Pass, WA

Driving Directions

From I-90 East take Exit 52 towards Summit West. Challenge of the day: find a parking spot.

©Melissa Farage
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