Snow is a gift for outdoor recreation
Winter officially arrived on Monday (Dec. 21), but early-season snow has already created great conditions for outdoor activities.
Of note: Under state and county guidelines a face covering is not needed when you are outside walking, exercising, or otherwise outdoors as long as you are able to stay 6 feet away from other people who do not live with you; however, at trailheads, busy trails, bathrooms, any indoor spaces and trail intersections please be ready to pull a mask over your face to keep recreational areas open and trail users safe.
A heavy snowfall in early November positioned the Methow Valley well for a long Nordic season, and Monday’s storm reinforced that solid base. Methow Trails has opened virtually all of its 200 kilometers of ski trails and is grooming the majority of those trails nightly on weekends and during the holidays. Visit http://www.methowtrails.org/trail-report when planning your ski to find out where the best conditions are. Trail passes are required.
The grooming crew has been working on all of the Lloyd Ranch Trails and the trails in both campgrounds in Pearrygin Lake State Park and fat bikers report that conditions are great on those trails as well as along the Methow Trails network. Some areas may be soft, so be aware of that and lower your tire pressures or choose other trails if leaving tracks deeper than 1 inch. Most areas have good coverage now, but it is still early season so exercise care as there is not much snow to cushion a fall and plenty of hard objects under it. Helmets are strongly encouraged. Methow Cycle & Sport provides the most comprehensive list of fat biking trails and conditions in the Methow Valley. Visit https://www.methowcyclesport.com for more information and trail suggestions. Parking passes are required.
Groomed snowshoe trails can be found on the Methow Trails system in Mazama, the Rendezvous, Winthrop and Sun Mountain. Check the website for conditions: http://www.methowtrails.org/trail-report. Trail passes are required.
Thanks to the winter solstice snowstorm, on Wednesday (Dec. 23), Loup Loup Ski Bowl plans to open the lower mountain, including the junior poma lift, rope tow and tube hill. The upper mountain will open as soon as the snowpack allows. The lodge cafeteria will be closed for the season; users should bring their own food or purchase from the Mountain Meals food cart onsite (weekends only). The day lodge is still under construction and is not yet open to the public. Equipment rentals are currently unavailable. Check https://www.skitheloup.com for info, updates and operating schedule.
The Winthrop Rink is open for skating, organized hockey, drop-in hockey, and private rentals, as well as offering equipment rentals. Visit the website for schedules and rates: http://winthroprink.org. Both Davis Lake and Little Twin Lake have seen some ice skating traffic lately, but last weekend’s warm spell and snowstorm made all lake ice suspect.
Due to patterns of freezing, thawing and refreezing, coupled with heavy snowfall earlier this week, ice conditions at this time of year are unreliable. Washington State Department of Fish & Wildlife recommends waiting until ice is 4 inches thick before venturing onto lakes for ice fishing, and 9 inches for snowmobiling. Most winter anglers head to Davis Lake and Patterson Lake once the ice is reliable. Check these websites for more information about conditions and license requirements: https://www.okanogancountry.com; https://www.wdfw.wa.gov/places-to-go/weekender/north-central.
The Methow Valley’s six Sno-Parks provide access to 175 miles of groomed snowmobile trails and connections to other areas of the region, like Conconully and Chelan. The Methow Valley Snowmobile Association organizes group rides and reports on conditions; check their website and social media for conditions, grooming, event information: http://www.mvsnowmobile.blogspot.com; http://www.facebook.com/methowvalleysnowmobile.