Winter in the Northwest is in full swing and it’s time to explore Bellevue’s glistening backyard – The Cascade Mountains! Not a skier? Not to worry. Read on to discover your guide to a perfect winter getaway that starts and ends in Bellevue with plenty of snow-filled adventures for everyone in between.
Any day in the snow requires proper fuel to get the energy up and keep you going! One of Bellevue’s hottest “Mom & Pop” breakfast stops is Chace’s Pancake Corral. Beat the rush and get there early! Carbo load with a stack of banana pancakes complimented with delicious coconut syrup. Or, head over to Eques for the ultimate breakfast of champions. Try their stuffed French toast with stone fruit compote and mascarpone, yum! Plan ahead, reserve your table today. After fueling up it’s time to explore.
Snow- Crunching Snowshoeing
Snowshoeing is a great snow-crunching outdoor activity that the whole family can enjoy. Watch this video to get inspired. And, with just a short 55 minute drive from Bellevue, you can take in a fun-filled day of snowshoeing at Snoqualmie Pass.
If you have your own gear and want to head out and enjoy the Washington Trails Association suggest these snowshoe trails along the I-90 Snoqualmie Pass Corridor.
If you are new to snowshoeing there are several organizations that offer equipment and instruction to help you get started.
Bellevue Parks Department
Thanks Bellevue’s TRACKS program, activities like snowshoeing are easily accessible. Kid-friendly beginner trails are explored and snowshoes are provided. Groups meet at Lewis Creek Park and transportation is provided to trails along the I-90 corridor. Warm water-proof clothing, boots, lunch and water are required. Sign up for your TRACKS adventure here!
US Forest Service
Thanks to the U.S. Forest Service, Snoqualmie National Forest offers free guided snowshoeing excursions from January through March 2016. Donations of $15-25 are suggested, and snowshoes and poles are provided. Participants are advised to bundle up and wear insulated clothing, hats, and gloves, along with sturdy, waterproof boots or shoes. The park service offers five different wintery wonderland excursions so you’re likely to find something that fits your interests. Book your snowy adventure today! The following are some examples of what they offer.
90-Minute Walk and Extended Walk
This 1-mile loop winds through opulent old-growth forest. While skimming the top of the snow, usually hidden lichens, fungus, winter birds, and mammals can all be seen. This middle-canopy excursion is set at a moderate pace. The extended walk covers 5 miles and takes 4-5 hours.
Expert and novice photographers alike are sure to enjoy this snowshoeing excursion that provides the perfect frosty photo ops! Commonwealth Creek offers ice falls, cool vapors and the swirling dark waters of mid-winter. Participants are encouraged to bring their own cameras. This is a longer trip that requires a packed lunch and lasts from 4 to 5 hours.
Kids in Snow Walk
Bundle up the little ones for this icy, snowy adventure! This 90-minute outing (approximately) jump starts participants on their way to earn a Jr. Snow Ranger badge. Kids (and parents) learn how to identify tracks, learn about winter exploration, and climb into a real igloo (snowpack permitting). Discover animals that live nearby and those that burrow under the snow. Plenty of snowshoes are provided for both the little ones and adults that choose to tag along. The timing of this excursion varies, since kids control the pace. The suggested donation is $15 for adults and $10 for kids.
Avalanche Awareness Walk
Join the Northwest Avalanche Center and the Forest Service for snowshoe walks where the focus is entirely Avalanche Awareness. Professionals from the Northwest Avalanche Center will lead and present these 90 minute walks.
If snowshoeing is not up your alley, there’s always tubing! Just about one hour outside of Bellevue, you’ll find The Summit at Snoqualmie, a great place to take on your next winter tubing adventure! Tubing is a fun, care-free way to let loose and have fun! Purchase your tickets in advance to reserve a minimum two-hour window of tubing. Tubes are provided, and children 5 and under must ride with an adult. Sessions run from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, and 9 a.m. to 5:45 p.m. on Sundays.
Nothing sounds better after a day in the snow than some cozy comfort food. Here are a few of our favorite après-snow options back in Bellevue. Steamy dumplings are sure to hit the spot at the crowd-pleasing Din Tai Fung. Be sure to call ahead for dinner as this is one of the most popular spots in town! If a hot bowl of ramen is on your mind, you’ll have to visit Hokkaido Ramen, where pork bones are simmered for 20 hours or so to create their signature broth.
For those of us that need something ooey-gooey cheesy after a day on the slopes, try Vivo 53 for a delicious handmade pizza. Or satisfy a craving with Lot No. 3’s famous mac & cheese and a craft cocktail. For a hearty chef-prepared meal, head to Bis on Main in Old Bellevue. This upscale yet intimate gathering spot has everything from Dungeness crab cakes, to seared black cod to Filet Mignon.
(Photo Credit, Top to Bottom: Snowshoeing courtesy of DietsinReview.com, Snowshoeing courtesy of Inhabitors.com, Hoar Frost courtesy of Pixabay.com, Tubing at Snoqualmie courtesy of ParentMap.com, Scallops from Bis On Main Courtesy of Trip Advisor)