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Snow

“How long is the trekking season?”
“When should I start my trip?”
Replies to these questions may vary each year. This guide provides helpful tools to monitor the snowpack throughout the road corridor and gauge when key areas on the road will become snow free.
Snow can make for hazardous circumstances –this manual will also provide basic information regarding the hazards of snow traveling on the PNT so you can plan a trip that’s well-suited to your ability level. Bear in mind, snow storms can occur any time of year on the Pacific Northwest Trail. Always be ready for a few days of cold, wet weatherin summertime.
Monitoring the snowpack
Present-day Problems Deciding upon a start date
Shoulder season dangers Avalanche forecasts
Outdoor education
Winter trips on the PNT
Snow Tracking Snowpack and Trip Planning
From year-to-year, snowfall from the Northwest can differ significantly and may impact the trekking season and route requirements for the Pacific Northwest Trail.
Utilizing SWE Charts The SWE Charts below display current averages of Snow Water Equivalent compared to some ~30 year average for basins in every single state. These charts can be used to estimate when the road corridor could become snowfree each summer.
When the present snowpack is greater than the historic average (more than 100%), then paths will normally hold snow longer, and the weather window can be delayed by as much as two or three months in certain regions. Note that predictions early in the season may be subject to change as new information is gathered from storms later in the season.
Utilizing the NRCS Interactive SNOTEL Map
The interactive SNOTEL map shown below is configured to display the depth of the snowpack in inches at the SNOTEL tracking sites nearest the PNT. This information may be used to create a rough estimate of the amount of snow currently on the road by assessing snowpack at various places, and by looking carefully at the altitude of the site.
Be mindful that snow depth on the road at higher elevations can be much greater than what is shown here and can also change significantly because of other conditions.
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