Methow Valley Mellow - Page 3TRAILHEAD // Methow Valley, WA
Getting There »
Winthrop and the Methow Valley are located on Highway 20 (North Cascades Highway) in north-central Washington, about four hours’ drive from both Seattle and Spokane. Due to snow, Highway 20 closes from November to April, requiring visitors from Western Washington to drive east and north on Highways 2 and 97, adding about an hour to the drive.
Most of the Methow Valley is at 1800 feet (and more) and from late fall to early spring may be snow covered. July and August can be hot, with temperatures in the 90s, occasionally hitting triple digits. Trail running in the mountains (North Cascades National Park, Pasayten Wilderness, etc.) is best from July to October. Consider a mid-October run when the Western larch have turned gold and the mountains have received their first snow dusting.
Gear and resources »
The Methow Valley doesn’t have a running-specific store but Winthrop Mountain Sports (www.winthropmountainsports.com, 257 Riverside Avenue, Winthrop; 800-719-3826) and the Mazama Store (www.methow.com/mazamastore, 50 Lost River Road, Mazama; 509-996-2855) are great places to buy gear, energy foods, maps and books. The Trail’s End Bookstore (231 Riverside Avenue, Winthrop; 509-996-2345) offers a plethora of area guidebooks.
The Methow Valley Sport Trails Association’s (www.mvsta.com; 509-996-3287) website offers trail maps for both summer and winter use, a race calendar and registration, webcams, real estate info and even a page detailing top birdwatching spots.
In addition, about 40 miles’ worth of public trails leave from the posh Sun Mountain Lodge (www.sunmountainlodge.com), which has an activity room featuring trail maps, books and other information.
Camping & Accommodations »
Head a couple miles north of Winthrop to Pearrygin Lake State Park (www.parks.wa.gov), which offers tent and RV camping as well as swimming, fishing and boating (showers and flush toilets too). Numerous primitive campgrounds are located throughout the Methow Valley. For information, go to the Okanogan and Wenatchee National Forest website (www.fs.fed.us/r6/oka).
Other activities »
Bring the mountain bike for recovery days or fishing rod for some quality time in the Methow and Twisp rivers. Music lovers should visit in July during the three-day Winthrop Rhythm and Blues Festival (www.winthropbluesfestival.com), and art lovers can check out the Winthrop Gallery (www.winthropgallery.com, 237 Riverside Avenue, Winthrop; 509-996-3925) for everything from furniture to fine paintings to jewelry to pottery from some of the top artists in Eastern Washington.
This article appeared in our June 2009 issue.
Mike McQuaide is a Bellingham-based trail runner from the wet (west) side of Washington, and the author of five books including Trail Running Guide to Western Washington (Sasquatch Books).