In winter, when Methow Valley often has two or three feet of powdery snow on the ground and sunshine in the sky, outdoor recreation changes from hiking, biking, and river-running to cross-country skiing. The nonprofit Methow Valley Sport Trails Association (MVSTA, 509/996-3287 or 800/682-5787, www.mvsta.com) maintains four sets of interconnected cross-country ski trails throughout the valley. They groom 175 kilometers of trails—second longest in America—setting tracks for both classical and skate skis. Fees are $15 for one day or $35 for three days. Call for trail conditions, maps, and ski passes.
The MVSTA’s ski trail systems connect to several local inns and lodges, making it possible to walk outside and ski right from your door. A public warming hut is located at WolfRidge Resort, and several of the lodges welcome skiers with hot drinks. A van service (509/996-8294) provides transport to trailheads throughout the valley.
To get deeper into the backcountry, backcountry skiers may also want to consider hut-to-hut skiing opportunities on the MVSTA-maintained Rendezvous Trail system. A series of five fully equipped cabins (each cabin sleeps eight) are located 7–12 kilometers apart in the mountains north of Winthrop. Call Rendezvous Outfitters (509/996-8100 or 800/257-2452, $35 per person) for details. In addition to lodging, Rendezvous will also provide ski guides or on-trail gear hauling for an extra fee.
Rent skis and get cross-country lessons from Sun Mountain Resort (509/996-2211 or 800/572-0493), Mazama Country Inn (509/996-2681 or 800/843-7951), Jack’s Hut at Freestone Inn (509/996-2752), or Winthrop Mountain Sports (509/996-2886 or 800/719-3826).
The nearest place for alpine skiers and snowboarders is Loup Loup Ski Bowl (509/826-2720, www.skitheloup.com, $38 adults, $32 young adults and seniors, $24 youth, free for kids under 6), a small family place 12 miles east of Twisp on Highway 20. Loup Loup has a new quad chairlift, two Pomas, a rope tow, and a vertical drop of 1,240 feet. Shredders will have fun on the half-pipe. Ski lessons, ski and snowboard rentals, and groomed cross-country tracks are here, along with a snack bar.
For those with the bucks, North Cascade Heli-Skiing (509/996-3272 or 800/494-4354, www.methow.com/~heli-ski) will take downhillers into untracked powder or provide drop-offs for backcountry telemark skiers.
Public ice skating ponds are available at Sun Mountain Resort and North Cascade Base Camp. Mazama Country Inn (509/996-2681 or 800/843-7951) offers hour-long sleigh rides. Snowmobile rentals are available from several local shops.
© Ericka Chickowski from Moon Washington, 8th edition