Methow Trails system
The Methow Trails system
We maintain a network of more than 200 kilometers (about 130 miles) of groomed winter ski trails, many of which are also open for summer use. Read on for all the details and we'll see you on the trails!
With over 200 kilometers of perfectly groomed trails, you can find options for every ability and desire: gentle valley-bottom trails with kid-friendly loops, long-distance town-to-town and lodge-to-lodge ski options, or heart-pumping climbs that will challenge the most seasoned mountain athlete.
The Nordic ski trail system is divided into four areas, all connected by the Methow Community Trail, which includes a suspension bridge crossing the Methow River, trailheads, and lodges along the way.
There are four primary trailheads – Mazama, Winthrop, Sun Mountain and Cub Creek – and many smaller access points throughout the valley. Download the Methow Trails app for a live map and driving directions.
Cross country skiing etiquette in the Methow Valley
The trail system here is world-class. But one of the things that makes a truly special place is the community of people that live here. We are occasionally asked about the the "rules" of Nordic skiing here in the Methow. And yes, there are some good ones to know:
Control your dog and pick up after them.
Don't skate over the classic tracks or ruin the grooming.
Don't stop in the middle or bottom of a hill.
Give skiers zooming downhill the right of way.
But, honestly, the thing we want people to keep in mind when using the trails, is to be kind. Say hi. Yield to others. Purchase and wear your pass. Say thank you if see a landowner or volunteer on the trails. These trails are used by Olympians and first-timers alike, and everyone deserves a world-class experience.
For the more visual learners, we've put together a short public service announcement below. Thanks to Early Winters Studios for making it happen. Enjoy!
We typically have four to five groomers out nightly between 8 p.m. and 8 a.m. On weekends, holidays, and Wednesdays we groom all 200+ kilometers of trails with few exceptions. Tuesdays and Thursdays are typically lighter days when we may only get to 100 kilometers of trail, prioritizing the most frequently-skied trails. Big Valley is groomed on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and one day on the weekend.
View the Conditions page or download our app to read the Groomer’s Notes and to a view a live map that shows the status of all trails. The notes are updated daily between 6 and 7 a.m.
If you don’t have any ski equipment, or just want to know what it feels like to ski on cutting-edge gear, skate, classic and snowshoe equipment is available at the following shops:
Just a few tips and techniques can take you to a whole new level of skiing! The Methow Valley is a great place to learn how to cross-country ski or build on the skills you already have. Methow Valley Ski School and Rentals and Sun Mountain Ski School offer skate and classic lessons for all ages and abilities with friendly, PSIA-certified instructors. Choose from private or semi-private lessons for you or your group. Both ski schools also have rentals.
There are also excellent weekly classes, training groups and weekend camps offered by Methow Valley Nordic. Check out the events page for a current list.
Ski trails for kids
Methow Trails proudly offers free cross-country skiing on our trails to all children 17 and younger every day! Kids can learn to cross-country ski almost as soon as they can walk. With the right equipment and a little patience, your whole family can enjoy a day in the tracks together. Kids are also welcome to compete in all Methow Trails events for free or at a discounted rate. This too is a great opportunity to introduce your children to competition and sportsmanship.
StorySki trails are 1-kilometer cross-country ski loops at the Chickadee, Mazama, and Spring Creek Ranch trailheads are lined with the stories of delightful children’s books: Polar Opposites, Polar Polka, and Totem Tale. The ski trails allow young skiers and their families to ski while reading an entire book and gliding through the magic of winter in the Methow Valley. Colorful story-panels usher kids along the trails for a self-guided storybook tour.
WildSide trails appeal to slightly older kids (6-12) and blend nature facts with playful skill building on skis through engaging challenges that the panels suggest. WildSide panels are found on the Mazama trails on Inn Loop and out of the Spring Creek Ranch Trailhead in Winthrop.
All WildSide and StorySki trails are made possible by local children’s book author and illustrator, Erik Brooks and funded, in part, by a grant from the Methow Valley Fund of the Community Foundation of North Central Washington and by Trail’s End Bookstore in Winthrop.
Try a pulk! Child ski carriages come in lots of different shapes and sizes these days, and they make it easy and comfortable for parents to get out on the trail while the little one takes a snooze. Pulks/ski trailers can be rented at most ski rental shops. Call ahead to check availability.
Ski trails for dogs
Methow Trails proudly allows dogs on selected trails in the Methow Valley. In order to keep our four-legged facilities top-notch for both dogs and skiers, Methow Trails has a dog pass program. Dog owners must purchase a $50 annual pass at the Methow Trails office or a $10 day pass from any ski pass vendor and agree to the “Conditions of Use”. All dogs must wear their pass at all times while on the ski trails. Funds from the dog pass program help Methow Trails maintain and enhance the skiing infrastructure. We groom about 40 km of dog-friendly trails in the system. Check out our trail maps or app for details.
Fat bikes are specially-made bicycles that accommodate ultra-wide tires which can be run at very low pressure. The combination of very wide tires and less than ten pounds of pressure allows fat bikes to roll over soft, slippery surfaces like snow. Fat bikes are one of the fastest-growing segments of the bicycle industry, simply bundle up like you would for skiing and get out and ride!
Trails and conditions
Methow Cycle and Sport maintains an updated conditions page for fat bike trails. Conditions are assessed day by day, taking into account snow conditions and user compatibility. A valid Methow Trails day pass is required for fat bikes at all locations, except for Big Valley. Fat bike day passes are $10, Fat bike season passes are $50. If you have a ski day or annual pass, you are good to go for all uses. Bike trails at Pearrygin Lake State Park require a Washington State Sno-park pass, but not a Methow Trails pass.
Fat bike rentals
Fat bikes are available for rent at Methow Cycle & Sport, Cascades Outdoor Store, and Goat’s Beard Mountain Supplies. Reservations are recommended! Methow Cycle & Sport also provides rack adaptors for customers who wish to transport rental fat bikes to the riding area of their choice.
Snowshoeing is a wonderful way to explore the gems of the Methow Valley in the winter. Our scenic, peaceful snowshoe trails wind their way throughout the entire trail network, with the highest concentration of trails out of the Sun Mountain area.
Methow Trails has some shared-use trails, and many that are open exclusively to snowshoers. Check out our winter maps for full details on the exclusive and shared-use snowshoe trails from each trailhead. A $5 snowshoe trail pass is required. A ski pass will also grant access to snowshoe trails.
Snowshoes can be rented at any of the local gear shops.
Do you have limited mobility or know someone who does? Adaptive Nordic skiing is a magical way to enjoy the winter months with friends and family on the groomed ski trails, and whether you have a long-term physical limitation, or you are recovering from a knee or hip replacement, adaptive Nordic skiing is a great option.
Thanks to a grant from the Methow Fund, Methow Trails now has sit skis available for loan. Go with a friend who can help you along the trails. With advanced notice, we can provide volunteer support as well.
EquipmentSit skis are low-to-the-ground frames with a seat that have bindings and skis at the base. Adaptive skiers can pole themselves, or be pushed or pulled by a trained aid. Sit skis are available for loan on a daily basis. Plan to ski with someone who can assist you as needed.
Accessible TrailheadsWe recommend accessing the ski trails at the Spring Creek Ranch loop/lower Winthrop Ice Rink parking lot in Winthrop, or at the Mazama Trailhead, both of which offer ADA parking and easy entry to flat and beautiful terrain. For information on other accessible entry points, email Methow Trails at email@example.com
Volunteers & Trail GuidesAlthough sit skis are low to the ground and relatively stable, skiing with a friend or volunteer who can assist you is highly recommended. Methow Trails has a small but growing group of sit ski volunteers that would love to help you experience the trails on a sit ski.
For more information or to volunteer, contact Methow Trails.
Ski for Light
Methow Trails is proud to host a Ski for Light regional event each winter. This event brings vision- or mobility-impaired skiers and volunteer guides to the trails for a week of skiing and camaraderie. During this event we groom side-by-side classic tracks on select trails to allow guides and participants to ski together. For more information or to volunteer, check out our events page for specifics or contact Methow Trails.
During the spring, summer and fall, many of the cross-country ski trails become biking, trail running, hiking, and horse trails. Even before the snow melts in the high country, miles of additional trails open up in the Methow Valley. There is a lifetime of exploring to be done in the North Cascades National Park, on Forest Service lands, and on state lands managed by the Department of Natural Resources and the Department of Fish and Wildlife. Ranging from short, paved (wheelchair-accessible) hikes to half-day, full-day and multi-day strenuous backpacking excursions, there is something for every season, ability, interest and timeframe. Methow Trails are generally well marked and snow-free from early May to November. At higher elevations, trails may only be accessible to hikers from July through early October.
Check out our summer maps for details. Please be sure to stay on the trails and observe all posted use guidelines.