With temperatures ranging from cold to frigid in the past week, the Methow Valley’s winter wonderland features soft, fluffy snow in the woods and meadows and sheets of hard ice on the lakes.
Although the frosty air is preserving the snowpack, the lack of any warming is preventing different layers of snow from bonding with each other, resulting in loose conditions. Snow coverage is ample for recreating, but a fall can take you straight down through feathery snow to the frozen earth and hard objects like rocks and roots. Layer up and be careful out there.
Methow Trails continues to groom many of its 200 kilometers of trails nightly. Stiff winds sometimes blow drifts over the skate platform and fill in the classic tracks after grooming has occurred.
When it’s as cold as it is now, dress in layers, wear a buff or face mask for warmth, bring a hot drink if possible, and ski familiar trails so you can get back to a heated space as quickly as possible if needed. Visit www.methowtrails.org/trail-report when planning your ski to find out where the best conditions are. Trail passes are required.
The South Summit Sno-Park area near Loup Loup Pass has had an initial packing of all 50K of its trails. Coverage is thin; use caution. Trail passes are not required, but each vehicle must display a Sno-Park permit, which can be purchased at Hank’s Harvest Foods in Twisp or online at https://parks.state.wa.us/134/Sno-Park-non-motorized-Permits.
The Pearrygin Lake State Park and Lloyd Ranch trails are all groomed and ready for riding. Use care as there is not much snow to cushion a fall and plenty of hard objects under the soft surface. Helmets are strongly encouraged when fat biking. If you’re leaving tracks deeper than 1 inch, let air out to protect the trail integrity.
Methow Cycle & Sport in Winthrop provides the most comprehensive list of fat biking trails and conditions in the Methow Valley. Visit https://www.methowcyclesport.com/articles/fat-bike-trails-conditions-pg187.htm for more information and trail suggestions. Parking passes are required.
With snow this light, snowshoeing is a breeze. Dress warmly and experience the magic of a wintery forest on foot. Groomed snowshoe trails can be found on the Methow Trails system in Mazama, the Rendezvous, Winthrop, and Sun Mountain. Check the website for conditions: www.methowtrails.org/trail-report. Trail passes are required.
The staff at Loup Loup Ski Bowl want the Loup to open as much as you do — perhaps even more. Until the mountain is open, though, the Loup folks ask you to stay off the trails, because each trip down the hill snowplows all that nice champagne powder right down to the base. Help keep the snow on the trails by staying off them until the Loup is open.
Full-time Okanogan County residents get a 10% discount on tickets and county fifth-graders ski free. Check https://skitheloup.com for opening information, conditions, updates, and operating schedule.
Consistently cold temperatures have favored the Winthrop Rink. Get your blades on the ice during drop-in hockey, open skate, or attend the New Year’s Eve Open Skate on Friday (Dec. 31), from 8:45-10:15 p.m., for the final skate of 2021. Visit the website for holiday schedules and rates: http://winthroprink.org/.
WA Dept of Fish & Wildlife recommends waiting until ice is 4 inches thick before venturing onto lakes for ice fishing, and 9 inches for snowmobiling. Although the ice near the north end of Patterson Lake, near the cabins, is safe in most places, someone reportedly fell through the ice last week. The current cold snap should result in sufficient ice thickness at the north end of the lake. Use caution, be patient, and if you’re unsure of ice thickness, always drill test holes, especially as you venture into deeper parts of the lakes. Check these websites for more information about conditions and license requirements. https://okanogancountry.com/fishing–hunting-winter, https://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. Plan ahead for the Methow Valley Snowmobile Association’s Bucket Run on Jan. 22, 2022. Visit http://mvsnowmobile.blogspot.com/, or https://www.facebook.com/methowvalleysnowmobile.
Winter recreation trails and facilities are maintained by a combination of paid staff and volunteers. Purchase your parking and trail use passes to sustain winter recreation in the Methow Valley.