Plenty of doable winter hikes in Western Washington

After a long, warm summer like the one Washingtonians enjoyed in 2009, winter can sometimes seem to be a prison sentence of sorts.

After a long, warm summer like the one Washingtonians enjoyed in 2009, winter can sometimes seem to be a prison sentence of sorts.

For skiers, there is plenty to love about the colder months, but for those who prefer trekking the dirt trails and tracks of the Northwest’s stunning mountains and backcountry, December through to April is a time that many spend watching the calendar and waiting patiently for May.

But according to well-known trails advocate and guidebook author Craig Romano, there are still plenty of great trails to follow in these months, without having to strap on the snowshoes or skis.

Just before Christmas last year, Romano put together a handy resource for hikers wanting to stay outdoors and stay fit all year round.

“Winter Hikes of Western Washington” profiles 50 hikes that are accessible and relatively snow-free even in the depths of winter.

The publications comes in a handy ‘deck of cards’ form – with one hike to a card. On that card you will find not only a topographic map of the hike area, but also roundtrip distance, elevation gain, specific route information and difficulty level.

There is even a pointer on the best place to go afterwards to warm up with a hot chocolate, or in front of an open fire place.

The 50 hikes cover Southwestern Washington, the Olympic Peninsula and Coast, Puget Sound and the Central Cascades, and Northwestern Washington.

A number of

hikes close to Issaquah and Sammamish are featured, including Squak and Tiger Mountain, Rattlesnake Ledge, and Middle Fork Snoqualmie River.

“There are many advantages to hiking these destinations, in addition to their lack of snow,” Romano said. “Many of these trails are quite popular in the summer months. Some are downright crowded. But during the gray of winter they often lack a single human soul, allowing you to gain an entirely different experience.”

According to Romano, with these people on the trails your chances of spotting reclusive critters and birds is greatly increased.

“Elk spend winters in the lowlands,” he said. “The Olympic Coast and Long Beach Peninsula are excellent places for observing wintering and migratory birds.”

“Winter Hikes” is published by Mountaineers Books, a division of The Mountaineers, a nonprofit wilderness and trails advocacy group which was founded in Seattle in 1907. Issaquah’s Harvey Manning was instrumental in the establishment of Mountaineers Books, writing and publishing many of its early titles.

Since 1960, Mountaineers Books has produced more than 1000 titles, contributing funding and awareness to the ongoing campaign to protect Washington’s natural wilderness areas.

This Wednesday, Jan. 27., Romano will be the guest speaker at a meeting of the Foothills Branch of The Mountaineers. Open to the public, and free of charge, the event will be held at the King County Library Systems Service Center (not the library), at 960 Newport Way NW.

Doors open at 6:30 p.m.for socializing, and the program starts at 7:15 p.m.

For more information on The Mountaineers Club, and the Foothills Branch of The Mountaineers, go to