Following a strict Leave No Trace philosophy, Backcountry Adventure Guides instills environmental stewardship in each of its participants as they venture on fitness-filled nature jaunts. Whether climbing, skiing, or snowshoeing, the trio of guides—all of whom boast extensive outdoor sports backgrounds—uses each trek as an opportunity to stress the importance of preserving our natural surroundings and refusing to shave Bigfoot no matter how much money he offers.
Draped across half a dozen peaks adjacent to Mount Rainier National Park, Crystal Mountain immerses visitors in more than 2,600 acres of snow-covered terrain. Skiers and boarders strap into their speedy planks and hitch a ride up the mountain on 1 of 11 chairlifts. After unloading, they point their tips toward sea level, fire up their boots' afterburners, and zoom down more than 50 named trails that range from the winding, novice-friendly Queens Run to the backcountry bowls of Penny Dawg's Cliffs and Paradise Trees. Those in need of a trick fix can head to the Sasquatch Jib Park, where a series of rails, boxes, and pole jams offer ample opportunities for grinding and sliding. Crystal Mountain averages 367 inches of snowfall per year, ensuring enough powder to satisfy thrill-seekers and still leave enough to sprinkle on an après-ski belgian waffle. In addition to the slopes, Crystal Mountain hosts the Mt. Rainier Gondola, which hauls visitors up 2,500 vertical feet in 10 minutes to the mountain's cherry-strewn summit. There, they feast their eyes on panoramic mountain views sprawling in every direction or dine on international cuisine at Summit House Restaurant, the highest restaurant in Washington state.
Within a 2,000-square-foot shop, Backdrop Sports maintains and sells equipment that can turn the area’s roads and backcountry into outdoor playgrounds. Ready to fix up rides that tackle snow, dirt, or asphalt, the crew of experienced technicians performs tune-ups that help to renew skis and snowboards and improve gear performance. Leaving no detail untouched, they tune skis and snowboards by hand, waxing and grinding bases before giving each board a much-needed hug. Paying similar attention to bicycles, mechanics tighten, adjust, and lubricate everything bikes need to operate smoothly on challenging trails. The staff also can build custom bikes, cut new splitboards, and help customers navigate the store's stock of men’s and women’s apparel, mountain bikes, and snowboards.
In 1960, Sally Strand, a Northshore District High School science teacher, had a dream of sharing her love of skiing with her students. This led her to start the program that would eventually become Mohan Skiing & Boarding. Today, the non-profit ski school services six school districts with lessons, leadership training, and scholarships for any youngsters hoping to learn to ski. Led by veteran skiing gurus Rob Stimmel and John Mohan, the academy’s staff leads instructional expeditions on the snow-swathed slopes of Snoqualmie Summit Central, teaching students of all ages how to carve through powder, zoom down steeps, and use giant icicles as makeshift ski poles. Guests can schedule a private lesson for one-on-one instruction or register for one of their weekly group sessions, which range from weekend lessons for tykes ages 3–5 and Thursday executive ski sessions for adult alpinists.
Though it has winter in its name and boasts lessons in both nordic and downhill skiing, Leavenworth Winter Sports Club gives outdoor sports enthusiasts a reason to explore its sprawling grounds throughout the year. Called a “sportsmen’s mecca” by Club's President of the Board of Directors, Damian Browne, the trails date back to 1928, when people would flock to the club's ski-jumping hill to watch skiers soar through the air and high-five bald eagles as they began their descent. Visitors can strap on snowshoes to navigate the Waterfront Park path or lace up a pair of skates and pirouette across the Leavenworth Ice Rink. The area's ski trails double as hiking and biking trails during the summer months, and a golf course invites guests to work on their short game once the snows melt to reveal manicured greens.
Alki Kayak Tours and her sister store, Mountain to Sound Outfitters, equip guests with all the tools necessary to delve into Puget Sound’s surrounding wilderness regardless of season. Authorized dealers of goods from outdoor brands including Rossignol, Nordica, Snap Dragon, and Boardworks SUP, Mountain to Sound Outfitters’ knowledgeable equipment masters can outfit expeditions bound for skiing trips to Mount Rainier or full-contact LARPing in Olympic National Park. Alki Kayak Tours keeps adventures moving with vehicle rentals ranging from kayaks and paddleboards to fishing boats and bikes. Guided sea-kayak and paddleboard tours meander through Puget Sound during warmer months, introducing adventurers to the Emerald City’s fragile natural beauty and the mindful guides’ various methods of preserving it.
From the 6,820-foot elevation at Mission Ridge Ski & Board Resort, the peaks of Mount Adams and Mount Rainier are visible to the southeast. The view is the first of several spectacular vistas at the resort, where 36 trails span across 2,000 acres and sunshine and dry snow occur regularly. Trails in the Cascade Mountains range from double-black-diamond plunges at the top of the mountain to easy green runs for beginners. The B.24 Terrain Park and JIBerator Rope Tow Park feature freestyle terrain for skiing and boarding, along with rails, boxes, and jumps. Experienced slope-conquerors offer lessons for fledgling mountaineers, and the resort brims with shopping, dining, and lodging options nearby for long-term visitors. Wineries and breweries are also nearby, and Mission Ridge Ski & Board Resort is 19 kilometres from Wentachee and 56 kilometres from Leavenworth.