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Elevate Your Ski Trip: 3 Days Exploring Snoqualmie

24th February 2014 | Becky Lomax

News Regions: Washington, Snoqualmie Pass

Resorts in this article: The Summit at Snoqualmie, Alpental

Salish Lodge overlooks Snoqualmie Falls.

Salish Lodge overlooks Snoqualmie Falls.

Copyright: Melkir/Flickr

Washington’s Summit at Snoqualmie doesn’t need to rely on major snowmaking to cover slopes. Instead, natural snow piles up on the Cascade Mountain ski resort—on average topping 430". The closest ski area to Seattle gives skiers 26 lifts and more value for the ski dollars with the combination of four separate ski hills.

While a handful of nearby vacation cabins offer lodging, you can elevate your ski trip by staying 30 miles west at Salish Lodge & Spa. The upscale 84-room lodge, located equal distance from Seattle and the ski resort, overlooks a 268-foot waterfall plunging down the Snoqualmie River.

Salish Lodge overlooks Snoqualmie Falls.  - © Melkir/Flickr

Salish Lodge overlooks Snoqualmie Falls.

Copyright: Melkir/Flickr

DAY 1: Summit Central

While trails connect three of the four ski hills, and a free bus links all base areas, you’ll get better use of your Friday-to-Sunday by concentrating in specific locations. Start your exploration at Summit Central, and pace yourself for a long day, breaking for hot drinks to warm up in front of one of the many al fresco fire pits. 

Hop the Central Express to the summit to arc giant slalom turns down the corduroy on Golden Nugget. If terrain parks are your thing, hit the features in Central Park before bumping over to Alpine, another cruiser. Then, pluck off the short tree-lined chutes—Freefall through Parachute—accessed via the Triple 60 lift.

After a barbecue lunch refuel at Rodeo’s, head to the Silver Fir Express. Tour the long groomers and mogul runs swooping over natural terrain in contrast to some of the morning’s old-school graded slopes.

In late afternoon, ride up Triple 60 to traverse the cat track crossover to Summit West. Wednesday through Friday, the oldest Summit ski area opens for night skiing with 4 p.m. fresh groomers. Work across the shortest of the Summit hills, from the runs on Wildside to the Pacific Crest quad. Take a long dinner break at Webb’s for grilled salmon, a Northwest specialty. When the legs give out, ski or hop the bus back to your car at Summit Central.

DAY 2: Summit East

After yesterday’s extended skiing, give your legs a break by tubing during the two-hour morning session. Let screams fly as you careen down one of the 12 lanes. Then, head to the new Silver Fir Lodge for lunch in the food court before hitting the slopes for the afternoon.

Lift-assisted tubing makes for easy snow play at the Summit at Snoqualmie.  - © Mike Yoshida/Summit at Snoqualmie

Lift-assisted tubing makes for easy snow play at the Summit at Snoqualmie.

Copyright: Mike Yoshida/Summit at Snoqualmie

Catch the Silver Fir lift to ski the one-mile-long I-90 Crossover to Summit East. Load on the East Peak triple to explore the mix of intermediate tree runs and steeper front side plunges before heading to the backside. That's where you can lap every one of the 500-foot-vertical runs in Hidden Valley. Even novices can enjoy the terrain, with the broad gentle swing of Solitude.

After skiing the lower I-90 Crossover back to Summit Central, return to Salish Lodge to unwind in the spa. Ask for a local treatment using honey from the on site apiary before relaxing in the steam room, dry sauna or two hot pools. Polish off the evening by dining on seasonal Northwest cuisine while watching the falls roar over the cliff. 

DAY 3: Alpental

We save Alpental—the toughest of Snoqualmie’s hills—for last. Steep pitches merge with prolific powder to lure advanced skiers and riders for the biggest vertical at the Summit. The youngest of the four Snoqualmie Pass ski hills, Alpental climbs to the highest elevation at 5,420'—still low enough that sea level lungs will not huff and puff at the altitude. 

Take a few warm-up runs on the Sessel double before leaping the Armstrong Express to Midway. Tour the long, sweeping Debbie’s Gold, named for Armstrong’s Olympic gold medal. Then, take the Cascade Traverse to plummet down a lineup of chutes. 

When ready for a break, head to the Tiroler Stube on the second floor of the Alpental Lodge. Sink into a bowl of Ivar’s clam chowder, a Seattle mainstay.

Alpental Ski Area is part of the Summit at Snoqualmie. Photo by Becky Lomax.   - © Becky Lomax

Alpental Ski Area is part of the Summit at Snoqualmie. Photo by Becky Lomax.

Copyright: Becky Lomax

After lunch, return to Midway to hop the Eidelweiss double. Drop powder turns with face shots through Eidelweiss Bowl before nose-diving down Alpental’s longest run—the International. The near-vertical Upper International plummets through a chute onto a wide apron before moderating the pitch into Lower International.

For a trip finale, tack on a venture out of bounds into Alpental’s Back Bowls, if you are prepared and conditions permit. Either way, celebrate at the Backcountry Bar, where the Bloody Mary is a nearly a meal.


Salish Lodge Snoqualmie Falls - © Melkir/Flickr
Alpental Ski Area is part of the Summit at Snoqualmie. Photo by Becky Lomax.  - © Becky Lomax
Tubing at the Summit at Snoqualmie. Photo by Becky Lomax.  - © Becky Lomax
Summit at Snoqualmie - © Becky Lomax

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