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Snowshow Magazine

Snowshow Magazine

Cross-Country Skiing and Snowshoeing in the Methow Valley, WA

- PO Box 147, Winthrop WA 98862

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Methow Valley Sport Trails Association (509/996-3287, www.mvsta.com) is in northwest Washington on the eastern slope of the North Cascade Mountains in the towns of Winthrop and Mazama. There's a network of 200 km of groomed trails for classic and skate cross country skiing with many lodges and warming huts along the way. Lessons and rentals available at Sun Mountain Lodge, Freestone Inn at Wilson Ranch and Winthrop Mountain Sports. Trail fees are $22 per day for adults 18 and over and $17 after 1:00 PM. Kids aged below 17 or above 74 are FREE. Snowshoeing on the trails is $5 and a pass for your dog is also $5. Check for details for Fat Biking on select trails. Trail passes are available at many of the Methow Valley business locations.

This is one of the American xc ski meccas! The xc ski trails are surrounded by more than a million acres of national wilderness and forest lands. This region's snow is plentiful and it is dry because the moisture travels from the Pacific Ocean across a hundred miles of mountains to get to Methow. After the snow arrives it is usually followed by crystal blue sky and incredible scenic mountain panoramas. No altitude acclimation is necessary in this xc skiing valley Mecca, that is 40 miles long and laced with xc ski trails. The valley trail system is divided into three areas: Mazama, which has 40 km of which 28 km are easiest trails over flat and rolling farm and woodlands. There is lodge to lodge skiing connecting the Mazama Country Inn, Freestone Inn and others. Sun Mountain has 60 km of trails and it offers family skiing, scenic views and extensive ski instruction programs. Rendezvous has 50 km of xc ski trails and has higher elevation backcountry skiing with spectacular scenery and overlooks. There are hut-to-hut and guided tours. There are 30 km of free, goomed dog trails, too.

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The Methow Community Trail is 32 km that connects the areas and the towns of Winthrop and Mazama.Winthrop is a charming town with wooden sidewalks and old western style storefronts containing numerous galleries and shops with names such as the Last Trading Post, Winthrop Emporium, Trail's End Bookstore, Grubstake and Company and 3 Fingered Jack's Saloon. There's Asian food at the Topo Cafe and the local drinking establishment is the Winthrop Brewing Company. There is Internet access available at Hoonah Net on Riverside Avenue. Purchase or rent gear and outdoor clothing at Winthrop Mountain Sports also on the main street in town.

Lodging, dining and entertainment are modestly price with discounts for midweek visits offered by many valley businesses. Transportation in the Methow Valley is available via the Mountain Transporter Shuttle Service. The North Cascade Heli-Skiing (800-494-HELI, 509/996-3272, www.heli-ski.com) service operates from the Freestone Inn on Route 20 in Mazama. It has a 300,000 acre permit area in the Okanagon National Forest and has been in business since 1988.

Besides building and maintaining the trail system, the Methow Valley Sport Trails Assoc. (MVSTA) sponsors ski races, clinics, and fun events for the whole family. There is a new ice rink, free family trails, sledding and snowshoeing. MVSTA is a non-profit organization dedicated to developing and promoting environmentally sound non-motorized recreation year-round on and near the trails of the Methow Valley. In the summer, the Methow Valley is a mountain bikers' and hikers' Mecca.

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Sun Mountain Lodge is the best and biggest full service hotel in the Methow region (800/572-0493, www.sunmountainlodge.com) at 2,000 feet with beautiful scenic views and trails that are interconnected with the Methow Valley system (click here for a full page of info about Sun Mountain Lodge). The Chewuch Inn is close to downtown Winthrop and it has a lodge and cabins. The Freestone Inn at Wilson Ranch features a lodge with 21 guest rooms, rustic elegance, 15 cabins, lakeside lodges and gourmet dining.

Directions to the Methow Valley from Seattle is north then take Highway 2 and Stevens Pass or go west via I-90 and Snoqualmie Pass. The North Cascades scenic highway 20 is open from mid April until October. CCSAA member