Winter recreationists will have more room to park, a restroom and safety amenities — and snowplows will have adequate room to maneuver safely — when a new trailhead is completed at the Silver Star gate on the North Cascades Highway.
Providing better access for all users and maintenance has been a goal for more than five years, but making it a reality took several designs and collaboration between trail users, snowmobilers, backcountry skiers, the Methow Valley Ranger District, and the state Department of Transportation, according to Rosemary Seifried, the ranger district’s recreation program manager. The Methow Valley Trails Collaborative helped coordinate the development of the trailhead.
The trailhead will include a parking area that will accommodate 10 to 20 vehicles and trailers, depending on size, Seifried said. What’s most important is that it will provide a place for parking that’s not right in the roadway. As winter recreation in the North Cascades has grown more popular, the parking problem also grew, with many people unaware that the area near the gate is needed by snowplows to turn around, Seifried said.
The trailhead will include a kiosk with information about the location of avalanche terrain in the highway corridor, a list of recommended safety equipment for winter activities in the mountains, and a station that allows people to check that avalanche beacons are working.
Another trailhead near Early Winters that provides access to Nordic ski trails and the highway corridor will also get an outhouse.
The project was funded by federal grants, with matching funds from local trail and snowmobile groups.
The trailhead will be completed this year. It will ultimately become part of the state Sno-Park system.