The Meadowlark Natural Area in Winthrop is now open for free public access to its trails, the Methow Conservancy announced.
The natural area is a 139-acre property on the east side of Winthrop adjacent to. the Sullivan Cemetery, and runs up the western flank of Studhorse Mountain.
The site includes 2.5 miles of walking and hiking trails through shrub-steppe habitat, offering views of the Methow Headwaters, Gardner Mountain and the Lake Chelan-Sawtooth and Pasayten Wilderness Areas, the Conservancy said in a press release.
The Conservancy has owned the property since 2018. It was purchased from the Heckendorn family with funds donated by Tina and Eliot Scull. Ultimately, the Conservancy plans to transfer ownership of the Meadowlark Natural Area to the Town of Winthrop.
A public access parking area and trailhead can be found just to the south of the Sullivan Cemetery in Winthrop. To find a map of the trail system and directions, visit https://www.methowconservancy.org/discover/meadowlark. No parking passes of any kind are required.
The trail system is open to hiking, running, wildlife viewing, and dog walking. Dogs are allowed on leash only.
“We bought the property because we recognized it is a large contiguous piece of important wildlife habitat. We also knew that, because of its location, it could provide an excellent opportunity for public access within walking distance for town residents and visitors,” said Conservancy Executive Director Jason Paulsen.
“Our baseline research came up with an impressive diversity of flora and fauna for a relatively small area,” said Methow Conservancy Stewardship Director Heide Andersen. “We have created a management plan that includes a public closure of the Natural Area each March to give the mule deer and other wildlife undisturbed access to the early spring green-up on the hillside important for their survival.”
The trail system was funded by the Methow Conservancy and built by the Methow Chapter of the Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance.
“We appreciate the care that Evergreen took in building the trails with minimal disturbance to the landscape,” said Andersen. “This was an especially unique collaboration between our organizations since bikes are not allowed on the trails.”