Methow Valley Mellow - Page 2Public Treasures
But not all things trail-running related in the Methow have to do with racing. Along with the 100-plus miles of trails in the valley itself, the Methow is situated within minutes of two wilderness areas, the Pasayten and Lake Chelan-Sawtooth; two national forests, Okanogan and Mount Baker-Snoqualmie; and one the most rugged, undeveloped national parks in the country, North Cascades. Much of these areas are alpine, 5000 feet and higher, and crisscrossed by miles and miles of trails.
“The Methow Valley is just this little sliver of private land, and then everything else around it is public forest or wilderness,” says avid trail runner Dan Kuperberg. “There’s three million acres of public land extending all the way up to the Canadian border.”
From Hart’s Pass, at 7000 feet the state’s highest public road, runners can head south for a 30-mile roller coaster traverse along the PCT back to Rainy Pass. Or head out the Wolf Creek Trail for an out and back to the foot of Gardner Mountain. Or up to Tiffany Mountain or the inaptly named Easy Pass.
“As the snow melts out, we work our way higher and higher in the mountains,” says Allison DeLong of Mazama, Washington. Those with some ambition climb up and over Sawtooth Ridge via the War Creek Trail and drop down thousands of feet into the deep narrow gorge of the 50-mile-long Lake Chelan. At 1400-plus feet, it’s the country’s third-deepest lake. Runners with a credit card can spend the night in a cabin in remote Stehekin or, if they’ve arranged for a pickup, take the Lady of Lake, a passenger ferry that drops them off in Chelan, about 60 miles south of Winthrop.
“The trail-running possibilities over here are pretty much limitless,” says Kuperberg. “There are way more trails than there is time to run them.”