Submitted by Methow Trails and Methow Valley Citizens Council
The Methow Valley has an incredible, unique network of connected trails that wind through diverse habitats and support bountiful wildlife. The lands these trails pass through have been home to the Methow People for thousands of years. We are privileged to have these trails in our backyard to walk, run, bike and ski on.
With this privilege comes a responsibility to be good stewards of the trails. Methow Valley Citizens Council and Methow Trails have come up with the following guidelines to consider when recreating throughout the valley.
Use existing trails
The Methow Trails trail system encompasses an intricate patchwork of private and public lands in the Methow. Staying on the trails is critical to respecting the privacy of the landowners who have generously offered access. Staying on the trail also minimizes wildlife disturbance. Wildlife often know the trails you are traveling on (they see you more than you see them!), and are less likely to be surprised and disturbed if they expect you on the same corridors. Using existing trails also avoids the establishment of social trails which can further fragment habitat.
Before you hit the trail, check for any existing closures or restrictions. Trails may be temporarily closed to protect sensitive wildlife or to allow for wildfire recovery. This summer, a portion of Big Valley has been closed to protect a nesting pair of sandhill cranes.
Some of the trails that Methow Trails maintains for winter use are not accessible for summer use. Check the land management agency websites (USFS, WDFW or DNR) and methowtrails.org for the latest updates and closures.
Give wildlife space
As much as we like to stare, study and get a little bit closer for that fantastic photo, the closer we get to wildlife, the more likely they are to run or fly away, expending energy to do so. When this is compounded by multiple interactions it can cause disturbance, stress, and fragmentation. As much as possible, give wildlife a wide berth when out on the trails.
Control your dogs
Although we love our canine companions, they can and do often cause considerable disturbance to wildlife. When dogs chase wildlife, they produce a stressful flight response in the animal and flush them out of their home. Many dogs have the instinct to chase wildlife.
Please, when out on the trails, keep your dog on a leash or under close voice control to minimize these disturbances. Picking up and packing out your dog’s waste is also critical to the health of our ecosystem and the enjoyment of everyone who else who shares the trail. Remember: there is no poop fairy!
Leave what you find
The Methow People have many cultural and spiritual sites throughout the Methow Valley. Be respectful of any artifacts or cultural sites that you may find. Take only memories of the site by leaving behind the artifact, keeping the camera in your pocket, and refraining from sharing where the site is.
Everyone is welcome on the trails of the Methow Valley and we’d like these trails to be inclusive of all people. Say hello to whomever you pass — they might be a landowner who allows trail access through their property, a trail crew maintaining the trails, someone who has contributed to make this trail system possible, or a new user out for their first time. The trail system we are privileged to enjoy in the Methow Valley functions due to the generosity, kindness, and hard work of many. You are an important part!
The trails we visit in the Methow Valley wind through the homes of many species of plants and animals. Consider giving back to local wildlife by advocating on behalf of them on a local or state level, conserving land for them through support of conservation easements, rehabilitating their existing habitat through restoration projects, or contributing to the maintenance and upkeep of trails. All these actions together can help wildlife thrive in the Methow Valley into the future.