Methow? And How!

Day One
By Peter Stekel
  |  Gorp.com
Page 2 of 3   |  
Skiing Methow Valley
Jennie, Betty, and Liz ready for some kick-and-glide.

The Methow is a special place. It has more than two hundred kilometers of machine-groomed trails for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing, divided into three areas: Sun Mountain, Mazama, and Rendezvous. Each has trails for beginner, intermediate, and advanced skiers, as well as packed trails for shoeing. The Methow Valley Community Trail snakes along the Methow River and connects the three areas. In order to use the trail system, skiers have to buy trail passes ($13/day or $33 for a three-day pass), which are available all over the Valley. Revenue goes to keep trails groomed and maintained.

Long before any of us were skiing groomed trails in the Methow, there was an informal system of trails throughout the Valley and adjacent forest service land. Then, 18 years ago, the Methow Valley Sports Trails Association was formed to develop and maintain a Nordic trail system. New this year are snowshoe trails and a place to ski and snowshoe with dogs. (The Big Valley Ranch trail, along the Methow River between Wolf Ridge Resort and Brown's Farm, is the first attempt to accommodate dog lovers on ski trails in the Valley.) And with the Okanogan National Forest and North CascadesNational Park surrounding the area, there are plenty of opportunities for more intense backcountry ski experiences.

Jennie and I, with Liz, George, Betty, Jim and Bronwyn, car-pooled with our track skis to Mazama and had a fun time stretching our legs on the loops around the Cow Beach warming hut. All the easy trails intersect with each other, and coupling them with the intermediate Doe Canyon Loop made for a fun afternoon of kick-and-glide racing mixed with some decent hills. On the way back to the cabin, we stopped for a quick skating run on the trails surrounding the Mazama Country Inn.

Our friends Ed, Paul, and Rebecca drove to the Highway 20 parking lot and tried out their tele-skis on Sandy Butte. They had a long day, returning just in time for dinner. Ed gave us the highlights of the trip. "We skied a cat-track most of the way up," he said, "that follows a forest service road. Had a little rain mixed in with snow but there was a great base." A big grin broke out across his face, erasing any trace of fatigue. "Then we had a great ski down in broken up powder."

Paul grinned ruefully. "I had to change waxes when I got into the trees. Otherwise it was a great run." He promised himself and the rest of us to bring waxless skis next year. "Conditions change too fast in the west to use anything else," he said.

Rebecca had the most energy of the three of them and broke trail going up, marveling at the other two as they made perfect arcs on the hillside coming down. "I didn't think I'd ever get down," she said. Not knowing how to telemark, Rebecca would cross the hillside, stop, do a kick turn and ski across the other way, zig-zagging to the bottom. Coming from eastern Canada, this was a different kind of skiing than she was accustomed to. She loved every minute of it.


Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication

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