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Guided snowshoe walks at Mt St Helens

Last year I wrote a post about guided snowshoe trips at Snoqualmie with Forest Service rangers. Along with guided snowshoe trips at the Mount Rainier National Park, these two are the most popular ( and I'd have to add - cheapest !) snowshoe tours in our state. But not many people know that the Mount St. Helens Institute offers five guided hikes as part of its winter Sunday Snowshoe Adventures.

Institute staff members and volunteers will lead participants through the winter wilderness on a snowshoe tour and provide interpretive information along the way. This will be a chance to explore the trails of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, stay fit through the winter and maybe meet new friends, organizers said in a news release.

No experience is necessary. Most of the adventures are family friendly. All participants under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult. Each trip is limited to 20 people.

Unlike the Snoqualmie trips, here, you are given more choices :

Jan. 24: June Lake. Length: 5 miles. Difficulty: Easy. Follow snow covered lava flows to a cascading waterfall and a towering white volcano, ending up at June Lake.

Feb. 7: Red Rock Pass. Length: 5 miles. Difficulty: Easy. This groomed road meanders through green forests and 1980 mudflows. There are great views of Mount St. Helens.

Feb. 21: Ape Cave. Length: 3.5 miles and cave walking. Difficulty: Moderate. Meander from the Trail of Two Forests to the Ape Cave exploring the forest. Bring a flashlight for a trip into the cave.

March 7: Oldman Pass. Length: 5.7 miles. Difficulty: Moderate. This is a trail for the more experienced snowshoer. It meanders through forest, meadows and features views of Mount Adams.

March 21: Trapper Creek Length: 5.6 miles. Difficulty: Difficult. Climb up through an ancient Douglas fir and hemlock forest. The reward at the top is a view of Mount Adams.

Each snowshoe trip costs $10 per person. One disadvantage - snowshoes are NOT PROVIDED.

For details and online registration, visit http://www.mshinstitute.org/.

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