The Snoqualmie Loppet: a 30-kilometer challenge for youth skiers

The Snoqualmie Loppet is a fun ski that typically takes place with non-organized friends on the last Sunday in January (e.g. Jan 29, 2017).  It is a 30-km nordic (classic or skate ski) tour that romps through almost all of the Snoqualmie Pass Nordic Areas, including: Summit Nordic Mount Catherine Loop; Iron Horse Trail; Troll Haegen Forest Loop; and Cabin Creek Viking Loop.  Here’s a fun video overview of the vicinity from a Best of the Northwest” page about nordic trails in the Snoqualmie Pass area.

Give it a try!  If the weather is right, you’ll enjoy great skiing and scenery, and if you start around 9 a.m. you might meet some like minded skiers.  Faster Skiers will complete in about 3-4 hours.  Slower skiers perhaps 5-6 hours.  It depends on your gear, your technique, your wax, the weather, grooming conditions, and your physical ability.  You can also do any of the sections if you are not up to full loppet (yet).

Distance: 32 kilometers total distance (21.5 miles)
Elevation Gain 1309′
Elevation Loss 2549′

If you happen upon one of the many folks who ski this loppet, you could set up some car pools so that you can shuttle efficiently back to the start.  And if you do that, you might consider parking most cars at the big lot at Crystal Springs SnoPark, and just 1-2 at the more-limited Cabin Creek SnoPark.  (Remember you’ll need a SnoPark permit to park in either of those lots.  Another hidden cost is a lift ticket from Summit to access the top of the Mount Catherine loop.)

In any case, be safe and have fun!  Below are some verbal, visual, mapped, and GPS-friendly descriptions of the route.

Verbal description

1. Take the Summit East, East Peak chairlift to the top and the upper trails.
2. Ski around Mount Catherine counter clockwise.  First descend via “Snow Train” and “Outer Loop” to Grand Junction, then proceed along “Ripsaw” down and up to Windy Pass, and finally descend “Cold Creek” all the way back to Hyak Lodge (Old Milwaukee Lodge).  Refer to the Summit Nordic trail map below if you are new to the Mount Catherine loop.
3. Descend via parking lot and a short block on residential street to the Iron Horse trail and the long fast 10 km to the Stampede Pass Road.
4. Turn left on the Stampede Pass Road, and after a couple hundred meters enter the Erling Strodahl trail system. Ski the Forest Loop. You can visit the Troll Hagen Cabin if you need water or restroom.
5. Exit Erling Strodahl system, turn right, and ski toward I-90 on a short groomed stretch until you connect with the Stampede Pass Road (i.e. – pavement or snowplowed main access road to Crystal Springs SnoPark)
6. Walk the road (watching out for vehicles), or sometimes you can ski on the right side above the berm. On your right look for the Yakima River Trail (after the Yakima River bridge, but before I90).  Ski on the Yakima River trail to the Cabin Creek parking lot, or if it’s not groomed you can walk across the I-90 bridge and thru the DOT yard to join the Cabin Creek trail system.
7. Enter the Cabin Creek Trail system.
8. Ski the Viking course and then merge on to the Berg course to the end!

Google map of the route

Other handy maps

  • An overview of the route from Best of the Northwest that shows that overall the Snoqualmie Loppet is a downhill affair…
  • Mount Catherine loop

  • Ehrling Strodahl and Cabin Creek


GPS file for the route

coming soon…


Photos from the route

Skating on the Iron Horse trail

You may see dogs near the junction of Stampede Pass Road and the Iron Horse Trail

Chatting loppet-style near Gold Creek

Random references:

This WTA post has waypoints for locations that will help you find the connector trail and Nordic Pass trail should you ever want to vary this loppet so as to avoid the purchase of a lift ticket…


Kid- and dog-friendly skiing in the Pacific Northwest

Since there are so few places to actually practice biathlon and to keep the cross-training process super-fun and positive for youth, here’s a guide to places in Washington State (and the Pacific Northwest vicinity) where you can hone your skate/skiing abilities — either on a trail or tour that’s fun for kids and/or in a system that allows dogs (e.g. for skijooring).

Google map

Interstate 90

Crystal Springs (dog-friendly)

  • Central Cascades Winter Recreation Council page on Crystal Springs
  • Nice topo map here —
  • Erling Stordahl is not dog-friendly, but has some fun loops for kids — both flat and pretty steep.
  • Dog Power Trail 100  is located on the southwest side of the Sno-Park.  Separate parking is available for mushers and for non-motorized users who do not object to sharing the trail with dogs.  This trail is approximately 1 mile long and terminates at Lost Lake Road, where users can access the Iron Horse Trail.  NOTE:  ALL DOGS MUST BE ON A GANGLINE or LEASH.  There are no exceptions!  If a team is needs to pass or is coming head on, rein your dog in and mover to the side of the trail and restrain your dog(s).  This is NOT and OFF-LEASH area.  Please also note that a Special Grooming Sticker is needed in addition to your Sno-Park Pass to use this area and trail.

Connect Dog Trail to John Wayne, then go southeast past Stampede Pass Road until you can access the dog sled trail system below Meany Cabin.  Lots of fun loops in there!

Crystal Springs trail map (PDF)

Cabin Creek (no dogs)

Great conditions and varied trails for kids.  Kongsberger Ski Club maintains the trails.

Field guide from Outdoor Project (great “Adventure Description” with maps upon free registration)



Highway 2

Steven’s Pass

  • Skyline Lake trail from new downhill parking lot.  Not groomed, but dog-friendly.
  • Nordic Center (no dogs, but great skating and classic up valley, plus the WBA biathlon range)

Plain (no dogs?)

Ski Plain overview (lots of links to trail conditions and PDF maps, etc)

Chiwawa Sno Park – See & Ski (dogs ok after noon)

See Ski Plain link above for PDF map & conditions… or this nice overview of See N Ski trail.

Photos taken February, 2016:

Lake Wenatchee north and south (no dogs)

Click to access Lake%20Wenatchee%20North.pdf

Nason Ridge (no dogs?)

Click to access Nason%20Ridge.pdf

Leavenworth (26 km total; 3 km dog-friendly)

Leavenworth Winter Sports Club
PO Box 573
Leavenworth, WA
3km dog trails

Dog friendly trail —

Waterfront Trail Map


Further away


Methow Valley Sport Trails Association,, a nonprofit group that wove the network of trails on private and public land.

Nordic overnight adventure, ski from hut to hut along groomed trails at the Methow’s Rendezvous Huts. Bring your sleeping bag and food for stays in the bare-bones but cozy ski-in cabins.

Methow Trails
309 Riverside Ave
Winthrop, WA
40km dog trails

Handy, helpful links:


Other sites to explore

49 Degrees North Nordic Center
PO Box 166
Chewelah, WA (north of Spokane)
509 935-6649
34km dog trails