After what may end up being a contender for snowstorm of the year, the Methow Valley is blanketed in pristine sparkly powder, refreshing the ski, snowshoe, snowmobile and fat bike trails while creating numerous shoveling opportunities for ice skaters and ice fishing enthusiasts. Temperatures have moved from sub-zero into the relatively balmy teens, so it’s a great week to enjoy winter recreation.
The moment you’ve been waiting for is here: Loup Loup Ski Bowl opens on Wednesday (Jan. 5.) Upper mountain, lower mountain, tubing — it’s all ready for you. Full-time Okanogan County residents get a 10% discount on tickets and county fifth-graders ski free. Check http://skitheloup.com for ticket prices, conditions, updates and operating schedule.
Regular hours have resumed at the Winthrop Rink. Fans of hockey and children will enjoy watching this weekend’s Great Outdoors Classic youth hockey tournament taking place this Saturday and Sunday. Visit the website for tournament and other schedules, as well as rates: http://winthroprink.org.
Methow Trails groomers took advantage of Sunday’s storm to add to the trails’ snowpack. The skate platform will be soft until it has been groomed a few times. Watch out for trees dropping their snow loads as you ski under them. Visit www.methowtrails.org/trail-report when planning your trip to find out where the best conditions are. Trail passes are required.
Methow Trails’ free Saturday shuttle along the Methow Community Trail has resumed. Visit www.methowtrails.org/events-calendar for more information about the ski shuttle and to learn about events.
The South Summit Sno-Park area near Loup Loup Pass is ready for skiers. Dogs are welcome on some trails. 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.
After groomers were able to clear the heavy drifts that had impacted many of the trails, the Pearrygin Lake State Park and Lloyd Ranch fat bike trails are restored. 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 provides the most comprehensive list of fat biking trails and conditions in the Methow Valley. Go to www.methowcyclesport.com/articles/fat-bike-trails-conditions-pg187.htm for more information and trail suggestions. Parking passes are required.
Snowfalls like this week’s make you understand why snowshoes were invented out of necessity. Careful looking up too often — trees will be dropping their snow loads. 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 on groomed trails.
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife recommends waiting until ice is 4 inches thick before venturing onto lakes for ice fishing, and 9 inches for snowmobiling. Drill holes as you move to different parts of lakes, as ice thickness varies based on lake depth and other factors. Check these websites for more information about conditions and license requirements: https://okanogancountry.com/fishing–hunting-winter; 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. For more information, go to http://mvsnowmobile.blogspot.com or 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.