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If there’s snow on the ground, does that mean hiking season is postponed in the upper parts of the Sierra? Absolutely not! All you need to do is strap on a pair of snowshoes, and you can enjoy the great outdoors. Here’s a list of five amazing snowshoeing hikes in the High Sierra.

Spooner Lake – North Lake Tahoe

Length: 2.1 miles – Difficulty: Easy

Spooner lake California snowshoeing
Image appears courtesy: North Lake Tahoe

If you’re looking to enjoy the beauty of the High Sierra or as Mark Twain so eloquently put it, “the air… it is the same the angels breathe”, you’ll love Spooner Lake. Within the Nevada state park you’ll find a quiet 5 km network of trails that wind through thick pine forests and an open meadow. The most popular loop hugs the banks of Spooner Lake and is a little over two miles in length. This is a great option for first timers, families, or those who don’t have a lot of time but want to experience the great outdoors. Visit Tahoe North’s snowshoeing homepage to learn more about where to go snowshoeing on the north shore of Lake Tahoe.

Inyo Craters

Length: 6.2 Miles – Difficulty: Moderate

Inyo craters snowshoeing in California High Sierra
Photo by: Todd Roberston – Image appears courtesy: Visit Mammoth

The Eastern Sierra has a long volcanic history. This can be seen in the hot springs dotted across the region as well as other physical evidence such as the Inyo craters. Starting from the Inyo craters staging area, you’ll be under a canopy of old-growth Jeffrey Pines. As you near the actual craters themselves, you’ll make a short ascent up to the rim to get a close look at the volcanic history of the region. Other top spots to snowshoe in Mammoth Lakes include the Minaret Vista and Horseshoe Lake.

Obsidian Dome – Mono County

Length: 2.5 miles up to 6 miles – Difficulty: Easy

Obsidian Dome snowshoeing on a snowy winter's day
Photo by: Local Freshies

In between Mammoth and June Lakes on Highway 395, you’ll find Obsidian Dome. This free area provides a network of three trails perfect for a quick stroll in the great outdoors. Mostly flat with a few rolling sections, you’ll be surrounded by Jeffrey Pines and even catch a few glimpses of the Minarets in the distance. For more snowshoeing ideas in Mono County, be sure to visit their snowshoeing page.

Castle Peak – Truckee

Length: 6 miles – Difficulty: Moderate to Difficult (1,800’ ascent)

Castle Peak snowshoeing California in winter
Image appears courtesy: Visit Truckee-Tahoe – Photo by: Paul Hamill Photography

One of the most popular winter destinations in the Truckee-Tahoe region, this zone provides access to the scenic area surrounding Donner Summit. It’s home to a variety of snowshoeing options depending on skill level. For 1st timers, explore the valley floor. If you’re looking for a bit more adventure, ascend over the pass and check out the legendary Peter Grubb or continue on to the summit of Castle Peak. Not enough? Be sure to check out the list of the top snowshoe trails in the Truckee-Tahoe area. If you plan to snowshoe Castle Peak, you will need to buy a SNO-PARK pass ahead of time. Get there early and have a backup plan because the Donner Summit SNO-PARK fills up fast! For a backup plan be sure to check out the list of the top snowshoe trails in the Truckee-Tahoe area.

Not Into Snow?

We understand. For some of you, snow is just not your thing. No problem. With a massive range of elevation, all you need to do is pick a place or locale that’s a bit lower. For a full run-down of options, read our article: Great Winter Hikes In The High Sierra.  

Author: Alex Silgalis

Alex Silgalis is an outdoors travel writer who enjoys snowboarding, mountain biking, or having a cold one from a local mountain brewery. See more of Alex’s work at

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