Top Ten North American Cross-Country Skiing Centers

Methow Valley, Washington
By Sproule Love
  |  Gorp.com

If there is a North American approximation of the famed cross-country trail networks Scandinavians use for transportation, Washington State's Methow Valley is it. The Methow Valley Sports Trails Association maintains a trail system nearly 200 kilometers in size that spans three distinct cross-country ski areas, connects two towns, and riddles the entire valley with Nordic bliss.

With three resorts to choose from—Mazama, Sun Mountain, and Rendezvous ski areas—you should be able to find a trail that grabs you. The Mazama Cross-Country Ski Area is the place to go for touring or an easy day; 28 of its 33 kilometers are rated as beginner.

Sun Mountain, with an even distribution of beginner, more difficult, and most difficult trails among its 54 kilometers, is the best choice for a diverse group or family of skiers. Better skiers should head to Rendezvous, east of Mazama, which has only intermediate and advanced trails among its 48 kilometers.

The spirit of this trail system, though, lies in its ability to link the communities that lie within it. For nearly half the year, you can ski the 25-kilometer Methow Community Trail (MCT), a mostly flat track between the towns of Winthrop and Mazama. The MCT takes you to the Sun Mountain trails via Power's Plunge and the Winthrop Trail and access to the Rendezvous Trails via Goat Creek. MCT Trailheads are located in Winthrop on the south side of town and the trail crosses the 275 foot-high Foster-Talks bridge over the Methow River, probably the country's only suspension bridge for skiers.

If You Go: Methow Valley

Trails: 200 kilometers, skating, classic, and snowshoe

Trail fee: $14 Adult full day, $11 half-day; $7 for ages 13-17; under 12 ski free

Rentals: Yes, through Methow Valley Ski School (509) 996-2451

Lessons: Yes, through Methow Valley Ski School (509) 996-2451

Where: Winthrop in the heart of the Methow Valley is located 4-1/2 hours east of Seattle on Highway 20

For more information: http://www.mvsta.com; conditions and events (509) 996-3860; Lodging (800) 422-3048.


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