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Where to Go Snowshoeing in California
Health & Fitness

Where to Go Snowshoeing in California

Just because snow is falling doesn't mean you can't enjoy a fun hike to experience California's natural beauty.

Roubina Al Abashian


6 min read

February 16, 2023

Disclaimer: is not receiving any type of compensation for reviewing any of the products or services mentioned in this article.

We Californians know how to make the best out of every season, and we sure know how to enjoy the great outdoors. With mountain ranges, valleys, deserts, and pristine beaches all over, the diverse geography of the state creates the perfect conditions to enjoy a variety of outdoor recreation. Not even the snow has ever stopped us from enjoying California’s natural playgrounds.

When your favorite hiking trail sinks in snow and the weather becomes harsher than it was before, you know it’s snowshoeing season in the Golden State. Are you new to this winter sport? That won’t be a problem because, as the saying goes, “if you can walk, you can snowshoe.” It’s quite simple and beginner-friendly, especially if you’re trying an easier winter hike. Once you’re ready to move up a level, you’ll need to learn how to go up and down slopes with the help of your poles, and how to stand up again in case you fall. When the snow season comes around, swap your hiking boots for ski boots; get yourself a pair of snowshoes and poles; and join us as we explore the best parks and trails for snowshoeing in California. We promise you’ll know them, love them, and can’t wait to hike them. 

Best Places to Snowshoe in California

There’s something about sequoia trees in a snowy setting that emphasizes their majesty.

1. Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks

With their beautiful winter terrain, well-marked trails, and groves of monumental sequoias, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks are every snowshoer’s paradise. Watching the giants stand tall in the face of a harsh winter can’t be compared to anything else. It’s safe to say this will be a holistically enriching experience. Guided tours take you on mile-long excursions, which is pretty helpful if you’re new to snowshoeing. If you’re experienced, feel free to guide yourself toward the destination of your choice. Trails here range between easy 3-mile-long treks like the Congress Trail and very challenging ones like the 22.6-mile Middle Fork Trail.

Enjoy a pleasing hike while taking in the glistening obsidian rock blanketing the area.

2. Lassen Volcanic National Park

While Lassen Volcanic National Park is popular among visitors during the warmer months, where they get to see every type of volcano out there, its charm doesn’t disappear during the winter months; it shifts into a different type of charm. You could call it a winter wonderland. Lassen is generally less popular than other parks, which makes it the perfect place to go on a remote winter snowshoeing excursion packed with mountains, lakes, and waterfalls. If you’re a beginner looking for an extremely easy trail or are on the snow with the kids, the 0.6-mile Reflection Lake Trail is the one for you. If you crave an adrenaline rush, try the four-mile-long Chaos Crags Trail—it’s all in the name.

There’s a reason why Lake Tahoe is a prime tourist destination throughout the year; its beauty never fades away.

3. Lake Tahoe

It’s no secret that people head to Lake Tahoe for the abundance of outdoor recreational activities in it. It’s no secret as well, that the fun doesn’t stop when winter comes. Besides skiing and snowboarding, people come in flocks to go snowshoeing in Lake Tahoe. After all, the best hikes in Lake Tahoe don’t just disappear as soon as the snow hits the ground. Lake Tahoe offers a diverse range of hikes that will suit your desires. The 10.5-mile Mount Tallac Trail provides a difficult Tahoe snowshoeing experience with scenic rewards; the four-mile Hope Valley Trail is more beginner friendly with equally scenic rewards. 

As snow falls upon Yosemite National Park, the trails become even more elegant.

4. Yosemite National Park

Thanks to modern, lighter, and user-friendly snowshoes, the winter activity is growing in popularity by the day, especially among the guests of Yosemite National Park. It’s not difficult to understand why snowshoeing is so popular in the area when the Sierra Nevada Mountains and evergreen trees provide some truly transcendent views in winter. Whether you’re looking for more remote trails that might be harder to trek, or easier and more popular ones to try with the family, you’ll find your heart's desire while snowshoeing the Sierra. At a length of 6.5 miles, West Valley Loop Trail is one of the easier trails. At 21.7 miles, Badger Pass to Glacier Point Trail is one of the more difficult.

If there’s one place to understand and admire Mother Nature while snowshoeing, it would be at the San Bernardino National Forest.

5. San Bernardino National Forest

The San Bernardino National Forest along with its crown jewel, Big Bear Lake, make for the perfect California snowshoeing spot. Come winter, the forest’s crowded trails become some of the most tranquil places in the Golden State. If you’re looking to find comfort in nature and get in some exercise, you need to go snowshoeing near Big Bear right away. The Sand Canyon and Old Roadbed Trail is an easy 2.7-mile out-and-back trail great for beginners. The Crafts Peak Trail is a 7.2-mile moderate out-and-back trail more suitable for people with experience. 

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Best Snowshoe Trails in California

Take a stroll on this easy trail with astounding views.

6. McCloud Waterfalls Trail

Location: Shasta-Trinity National Forest

Difficulty: Easy

Distance: 3.9 miles 

Route: Out and back

Dogs allowed: On leash 

The Shasta-Trinity National Forest offers its visitors tons of opportunities for snowshoe fun, but the most fun you’ll have is by exploring the McCloud Waterfalls Trail. This easy hike passes through the three McCloud waterfalls, promising beautiful views at every corner. Despite being an easy trail, getting close to the waterfalls might be a bit tricky in the snow, so make sure to hold your poles tight. 

All trails at Inyo National Forest are worth snowshoeing, but if you had to pick one then it should be the Obsidian Dome Trail.

7. Obsidian Dome Trail

Location: Inyo National Forest

Difficulty: Easy

Distance: 0.9 miles 

Route: Out and back

Dogs allowed: On leash 

Snowshoeing the Sierra Nevada is a dream come true to almost anyone who’s seen the majestic mountain range, even if from a distance. If you’re one of those people, Inyo National Forest presents you with the best opportunity to do that on the Obsidian Dome Trail. The short and easy hike only takes around 30 minutes to complete and leads you to the center of a volcano with spectacular obsidian and other rocks. It’s a great sight to witness with your kids.

Mount Pinos Trail is a low-key destination for a rewarding snowshoeing experience.

8. Mount Pinos Trail

Location: Los Padres National Forest

Difficulty: Moderate

Distance: 3.6 miles 

Route: Out and back

Dogs allowed: On leash

If you’ve got enough experience snowshoeing and are looking for a fair challenge, Mount Pinos Trail in Los Padres National Forest is what you’re looking for. This is not a route often traveled, especially during snow season, so it’s likely going to be you and your thoughts for the 3.6-mile length of the trail. Not being popular doesn’t in any way mean it's not worth the trouble, because the views here are only matched by a few places in the world.

The Mount Shasta Via Avalanche Gulch Route is a tricky one, and it’s advised to spend at least two days trying to finish it.

9. Mount Shasta Via Avalanche Gulch Route

Location: Mount Shasta Wilderness

Difficulty: Hard

Distance: 10.3 miles 

Route: Out and back

Dogs allowed: No

The Mount Shasta Via Avalanche Gulch Route might be a difficult one, but it is one of the most popular snowshoeing trails in all of California. Here you’re going to experience steep climbs, deep snow, and extreme weather.  You better be sure you can handle all of that before going on this excursion. As you begin your climb, the natural scenery all around you will leave you awestruck. It can easily be said that the most difficult climbs offer the best rewards. 

This challenging trail delivers a stunning view once you've reached the summit.

10. Mount Baden Powell Trail 

Location: Angeles National Forest

Difficulty: Hard

Distance: 7.8 miles 

Route: Out and back

Dogs allowed: On leash

One of the most challenging yet rewarding snowshoeing excursions would be the Mount Baden Powell Trail. Take a two-hour day trip from Los Angeles and you’ll find yourself within the Angeles National Forest, where this unique trail sits. The climb is not easy, but as soon as you make it to the summit you’ll be staring down at the Mojave Desert and Southern Sierra—quite the reward if you ask us. If you’ve never experienced the Angeles National Forest in the snow it’s absolutely worth the trip.

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