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East Fork of the Foss River

Alturas Lake

Alpine Lakes Wilderness, Washington

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East Fork of the Foss River

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  • The East Fork of the Foss River trail begins on a road.- East Fork of the Foss River
  • The Foss River is never far from earshot.- East Fork of the Foss River
  • Expect white and green on the East Fork of the Foss River snowshoe trail.- East Fork of the Foss River
  • Some small creek crossings are needed for the East Fork of the Foss River Trail.- East Fork of the Foss River
  • Crossing the Burn Creek Bridge on the East Fork of the Foss River Trail.- East Fork of the Foss River
  • Backcountry travel on the East Fork of the Foss River Trail.- East Fork of the Foss River
  • Mountain vista and lake on the East Fork of the Foss River Trail.- East Fork of the Foss River
  • Big mountains surround you on the East Fork of the Foss River Trail.- East Fork of the Foss River
  • More mountain views on the East Fork Foss of the River Trail.- East Fork of the Foss River
  • Crossing back over the Burns Creek Bridge.- East Fork of the Foss River
  • Traveling home through the lush Pacific Northwest forest on the East Fork of the Foss River Trail.- East Fork of the Foss River
  • - East Fork of the Foss River
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Old-growth forest. Possible winter solitude. Easy navigation.
Cons: 
Multi-use trail at the beginning. Stream crossings.
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Alerts: 
There are a few seasonal stream crossings.
Region:
Alpine Lakes Wilderness, WA
Congestion: 
Low
Groomed trail: 
No
Net Elevation Gain: 
700.00 ft (213.36 m)
Parking Pass: 
Sno-Park Parking Permit (required in OR + WA 11.01 thru 04.30)
Preferable Season(s):
Winter
Total Distance: 
8.20 mi (13.20 km)
Trail type: 
There-and-back
Trailhead Elevation: 
1,361.00 ft (414.83 m)
Typically multi-day: 
No
Current Local Weather:
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Adventure Description

Adventure Description

Contributor

The East Fork of the Foss River Trail is a great winter route that samples much of what snowshoeing is about. Starting on an unplowed Forest Service Road that follows the high bank of the Foss River, the first mile and a half is a good uphill warm-up to make sure you have your shoes on properly. After leaving the multi-use snow road and any possible snowmobiles or cross-country skiers, you hop on a trail with an even grade that is a snowshoer's dream. With a narrow trail that almost immediately enters an old-growth forest with towering trees, this is a nice hike to get away from it all.

After getting off of the multi-use road, a well-traveled trail follows the banks of the East Fork of the Foss River. While in summer the route is easy to see, winter sometimes obscures the path. Likewise, downed trees, stream crossings, or low snow cover may require you to alter your path. Remember that as long as you can keep the Foss River within earshot, it's hard to get lost. Throughout your time following the Foss River expect deep snow fields, stream crossings, big trees, a bridge crossing, some possible wildlife spotting (snow rabbits are common), and enough winter solitude to get spiritually lost in the amazement of surreal winter scenes. 

Great camping spots line the way along the East Fork of the Foss River. The first great winter campsites are over 4 miles in, where you'll find Altarus Lake. It's one of the first big vistas on the drive in, and with a minimal climb and avalanche danger, it makes a great day hike. If you want more of a commitment and the avalanche conditions allow for it, make the trek up the side of the mountain and enter the lower lakes of the Necklace chain. No matter how far you go though, expect a good hike into snowy Cascade Mountains. 

Recommended Gear

Before you head out on your next Mount Hood adventure, make sure you have the right gear! 

Here's a list of our go-to snowshoeing essentials to get you started:

Snowshoes: MSR Lightning Ascent Snowshoe

Cushioned, Made in USA, Ultralight, 98.8 oz

Men's • $299.95 • MSR | Amazon | Backcountry | REI

Women's • $299.95 • MSR | Amazon | Backcountry | REI

Jacket/Shell: Arc'teryx Zeta AR Jacket

Waterproof, Adjustable Drawcord Hem, Pit Zips, GORE-TEX

Men's • $431-475 • Arc'teryx | Amazon | Backcountry

Women's • $475 • Arc'teryx | Amazon | Backcountry

Pack: Mammut Nirvana Pro Pack 

35L, Carry-On Size, Hip Belt, Ice Axe / Pole Loops, Hydration Compatible

Standard Fit • $189.95-199.95 • Mammut | Amazon | Backcountry

Small Fit • $199.95 • Mammut | Amazon

Insulating Layer: Moosejaw Dequindre Down Jacket

Water-resistant, Insulated, Adjustable Drawcord Hem

Men's and Women's • $179

Poles: Black Diamond Traverse Pole 

Aluminum, Adjustable with Lever Lock System, 21 oz.

$79.95 • Black Diamond | Amazon | Backcountry | REI

Gloves: The North Face GORE-TEX Gloves

Waterproof, Adjustable, Insulated, GORE-TEX

Men's • $99.95-181.63 • The North Face | Amazon | Backcountry

Women's • $99.95-100.00 • The North Face | Backcountry

Boots: Vasque Snowblime UltraDry Boot

Waterproof, Cushioned, Insulated

Men's • $149.99 • Vasque | Amazon | Backcountry

Women's • $149.99 • Vasque | Amazon | Backcountry

Gaiters: Outdoor Research Verglas Gaiter 

Waterproof, Breathable, Lightweight, Abrasion-resistant

Men's • $41.32-65 • Outdoor Research | Amazon | Backcountry | REI

Women's • $49.95-65 • Outdoor Research | Amazon | Backcountry | REI

Backcountry Safety

Winter backcountry adventures can be dangerous outdoor activities that pose significant risks as conditions affecting safety (i.e. weather, snowpack stability, avalanche hazard) are constantly changing. Prior to engaging in these activities each individual should get the proper training to make safe decisions and be equipped to use avalanche safety resources and tools. Please visit our Backcountry Skiing and Avalanche Safety post to learn more.

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