January’s promising snowfalls are no match for February’s sun, unseasonably high temperatures, and worrisome lack of precipitation. Winter recreation is still abundant, but with a more limited range of options.
The biggest casualty of warmth without recent snowfall is the Loup Loup Ski Bowl. The Loup is on a “standby” schedule, meaning that operations have not been suspended; they’re merely paused until we get some snow. Consistent daily temperatures in excess of 50 degrees damaged the slopes, the fatbiking trails, the luge, and all other trails, such that running a grooming machine on them would spell seasonal doom. In the meantime, Mission Ridge is offering some discounts to Loup season-pass holders. Check https://skitheloup.com for updates and information.
Thanks to a refrigerated surface, at least a few more weeks of ice time remain at the Winthrop Rink, and the holiday period ahead offers opportunities for open skate, pickup hockey, and hockey tournament viewing. Visit the website for rates and holiday schedules. http://winthroprink.org/schedule
You have two more weeks to take advantage of the free Saturday ski shuttle that runs from the Spring Creek Ranch Trailhead, to Brown’s Farm, to Mazama, and back to Winthrop. This bus provides a free, easy way to do a point-to-point ski on the Methow Community Trail. Visit https://www.methowtrails.org/events-calendar for more information.
Warm temperatures combined with sub-freezing nights are making grooming very tricky, but thanks to a solid base and strategic grooming, the skiing is still wonderful. Conditions are fast, with frequent glazed and icy patches. The best skiing is mid-morning, when the sun has had time to soften the trails a little. Please don’t head out right behind a PistenBully; you will leave deep ruts that will freeze overnight. Give newly-groomed trails about 30 minutes to set up. Check out grooming updates and trail conditions at www.methowtrails.org/trail-report.
Nordic events abound in the coming week: the Lee Adams Tour of the Methow, the Doggie Dash, and Try Biathlon. Visit https://www.methowtrails.org/events-calendar for event information. Trail passes are required.
Snowshoe trails are fantastic—firm and stable. You hardly need snowshoes on most of them. Check the Methow Trails website for groomed snowshoe trail conditions: www.methowtrails.org/trail-report. Trail passes are required on groomed trails.
Warm weather has caused some standing water on the lake surface, but most of the thick ice built up during a cold December still remains. Patterson Lake, Davis Lake, and Leader Lake all still remain open for ice fishing; drop a line while you still can. You may find the booming sounds of ice cracking disconcerting at times. Drill a test hole to ensure ice thickness. Check these websites for more information about locations, safety, conditions and license requirements. https://okanogancountry.com/fishing–hunting-winter, https://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/basics/ice-fishing
Trails are getting quite soft during the day with the warm, sunny weather, Methow Fatbike said, urging trail riders to be sensitive to trails softening, which is happening as early as mid-morning in some areas. Please avoid leaving tracks deeper than 1 inch by lowering tire pressure, choosing other trails, or not using the trails when they soften. Trail damage is very difficult for the groomers to repair during this weather pattern. The best riding and trail experience will be in the mornings. Weekly rides and fireside socials take place on Wednesday evenings, except when warming patterns cause the trails to soften; visit https://www.facebook.com/methowfatbike for more information.
Methow Cycle & Sport provides the most comprehensive list of fatbiking 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.
These trails don’t maintain themselves; equipment, fuel, and personnel all cost money, which trail pass revenues help offset. Purchase your parking and trail use passes, and help support winter recreation in the Methow Valley.