The winter hike starts at the FR 24 gate 1.4 miles east of the summer trailhead. This adds 2.8 road miles and 230 gain to the route. The road walk is pleasant with views of Lake Cushman and a couple of seasonal waterfalls. So far this part of the road does not have slide hazards. This is a good warm up for the 50+ switch backs you're about to enjoy. In winter the trail is normaly in good shape to Horse Camp junction (3050) except for the possibility of blow downs. It's best to be an experienced hiker with trail finding skills to continue beyond this point.
Above Horse Camp the usual winter route is to use the left fork in and out to avoid cornices on the narrow north ridge. Be careful. There are a few hazards. This fork goes through the '06 Bear Creek burn and may not be stable in winter rains. Snowpack here may tend to slide more than before.
The trail is not easy to find in snow. Getting off route leads to steep terrain including cliffs and deep, rock, creek chasms. Get familiar with this trail in summer before trying it in snow.
Conditioner for 2013 Tacoma basic students Need snow shoes, and crampons or yak tracks or micro cleats. Bring 10 EEEs Meet at the ranger station on right when you turn out of Hoodsport toward lake cushman. 0800
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