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Trip Report    

Basic Snowshoe - Commonwealth Basin

If you're looking for an easily-accessible, somewhat shorter snowshoe trip that takes participants through a forest of snowclad trees and interesting creek crossings in the Commonwealth Basin, this is it!

  • Road suitable for all vehicles
  • Snow conditions, despite some rain the  day/night before and some on the morning of our trip, were  very good, allowing for easy-going. Despite low snow levels throughout the Cascades, there was plenty of snow covering the ground (approximately 1-2 feet) and trees were heavily-laden with about 8 inches of snow that had fallen earlier in the week.  In fact a few members of our party had to be persuaded not to cancel for fear that there would not be enough snow...they were pleasantly surprised.  The crux of the route is around the Commonwealth Creek area, where navigation can be challenging due to creek crossings and paths that dead-end or circle the area aimlessly. The first and main creek crossing is a large tree with a foot of trampled snow over the top making the journey across fairly straight forward. All of our group opted to side-step across, with some requesting leader support. Then, the trail branches off about 200' further up, with our group staying right. About 50' up the trail, there's another tree bridge, this one comprised of two trees with a lattice-like pattern of branches under the snow making for an easy crossing. We followed a path taking us along the creek (creek this time on our right) before ascending up to the right through the trees for about 3/4 of a mile. A final easy tree crossing over a pond/river area took us to an opening in the trees where we enjoyed our lunch before returning back. Back down in the drainage basin, for our last mile back, where the Old Commonwealth trail branches, we opted not to cross back over the initial tree crossing, but instead followed Commonwealth Creek (keeping the creek to our left) back down through trees finishing at the Sahalie Ski Club ski hill where we walked the road back to the resort parking lot, approximately 3/10s of a mile to the cars. 

From Exit 52, our group parked along the road facing the brown building opposite the lifts of Snoqualmie West where Laconia Market and Cafe & Evo Rental shop reside. I was informed by two different resort employees that this is the best parking area for our Mountaineers group. No permits needed. This building proved to be a perfect spot to meet up, as we were able to gather at a table inside the building out of the cold, where we could easily access clean bathrooms and the Laconia market (good place to find a sandwich/coffee, etc.). This is where we held our pre-trip introductions and briefing. Back at the road, we gathered our gear and followed the road under the overpass where we found a good spot to put on our snowshoes on the other side. The shortcut to access the PCT North Trailhead is just beyond about 100' up the road. Note, vehicles are NOT allowed to park under the overpass as had previously been reported; this is a tow away zone. It took our group approximately 5 hours including our 30 minute lunch break, to get back to the cars. This included a number of short breaks to eat/drink, fix gear, cross streams and navigate the path.