Mount Tahoma Trails: An Idyllic Winter Retreat
When most summer weekends in the Pacific Northwest are occupied by camping, swimming and hiking — it can feel hard to spend time outside during the early winter months. But all that’s needed is a change of mindset, and a quick glance at the Mount Tahoma Trails Association (MTTA) website in early November.
The MTTA is a large network of hut-to-hut cross-country ski (and snowshoe) trails located by the southwest corner of Mt. Rainier. Despite being wilderness huts only accessible by foot, these cabins are absolutely idyllic winter retreats. The largest sleep up to 14, and if you reserve at the beginning of November when the slots open for the season, you’re sure to secure space for all your friends.
Having cross-country skied up to the Copper Creek Hut last year, I was eager to explore the slightly further Snow Bowl Hut this December with a group of 8 friends. When we pulled into the trailhead, snow began to fall, and we set off for a few hundred meters before stopping to put our snowshoes on. The trail begins on a significant and continuous incline, and the initially barren gravel path quickly turned into several feet of snow.
When we arrived at the cabin, two MTTA volunteers greeted us with fresh coffee and a warm wood stove. We peeled off our sweaty layers and settled in to the 4 couches, cozy bunks and well-stocked kitchen.
The next morning, the clouds briefly cleared, and we enjoyed sweeping views of endless evergreens. The two volunteers had just finished building a gazebo a short distance from the main hut, so we traipsed out there, plowing through 3ft of fresh snow. We built snowmen, had snowball fights and each signed the guest log book with a self-portrait sketch. If you venture up there, look for our sketch.