Trip Report    

Mowich Lake Snowshoe

Breaking trail for over 4 miles.

  • Sun, Dec 4, 2022
  • Mowich Lake
  • Snowshoeing
  • Successful
  • Snow and ice on road
  • The snow is thick and heavy powder, from one to three feet deep, not packed at all. Very slow going. Excellent conditioning necessary, good 4-wheel drive skills needed, too.

On a snowy Sunday we opted for a no- scenery snowshoe where the obstacles would be minimized, but we would still have several hours outside. (We have a metric of however long it takes to drive, round trip must be the minimum time we spend hiking or snowshoeing.)

Mowich seemed a prime opportunity- no freeway pass traffic/weather issues, no ski area crowds, far off the main road. Yet, no avalanche hazards and a clear route to follow.

We were able to drive up to the park gate, aka the Paul Peak trailhead. Enough other vehicles and occasional plows had been there through the week we had no problems uphill in the 4Runner in 4-Low. Only high clearance 4-wheel drive is going to get in and out of the parking lot.KIMG0796.jpg

The pit toilets at the parking lot were open!


As soon as we passed the park gate, the going was slow. My husband, a very strong man, broke trail about 75 percent of the entire route, switching out with me just to give himself a break. The snow was deep and heavy powder. We sunk down, even with snowshoes above the ankles at first, then later on up to knees. KIMG0812.jpg

Heading east up the road, were could not locate the Grindstone Trail, the shortcut through the woods, at first. The orange route marker up I the tree only is visible by going past the trail, then turning around and looking along the south side of the road. In the process, my husband literally tripped on the trail sign buried in the snow! KIMG0799~2.jpg

Once on the Grindstone Trail, the route was wonderfully   by the orange tabs, each tab oriented towards the direction of the buried trail’s route. Although the snow was just as deep, if not deeper along the trail, our attitudes were immensely improved by knowing we were now on the shortcut and it being so clearly signed. KIMG0801~2.jpg

The Grindstone Trail pops back out on the road but shaves off 2.3 miles of grueling trail breaking! From there, we continued on to the campground, if for nothing else a shelter to cover us while we ate lunch. 

At the campground parking lot, there were no views- the snow clouds were socked in. However, the pit toilets here, also, were open, clean, and stocked with TP! We took advantage of the roof by shedding our packs and snowshoes, eating in the breezeway. KIMG0810.jpg

We did not tarry- wet, cold and nothing no visual gratification for all the hard work, we were heading back. Even though it was easier returning, it was a very long push back to the park gate, with the light beginning to fade as we approached the 4Runner. KIMG0811~2.jpg

We began up the route at 8:45 AM, arrived at the campground at 1 PM, and then returned to the 4Runner at 3:45 PM. 8.46 miles in 7 hours, overall. Very tired, very sore, very happy for having accomplished something so strenuous.

My final note: the drive down the Mowich Road was very slippery- even in 4 low, sometimes in 1st gear, we fishtailed many, many times. If you do drive this road, be very careful and prepared to self-rescue.