Mission and history

We connect people, nature and communities through a world-class trail system in the Methow Valley.

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Nestled in a high pocket of the North Cascades in north-central Washington, the Methow Trails system includes over 200 kilometers (that’s 120 miles) of cross-country ski trails in the winter months and is recognized as one of the finest trail systems in North America for Nordic skiing, mountain biking, trail running and hiking. Through these trails and facilities, collaborative partnerships and public events, Methow Trails is committed to the long-term economic sustainability of the community and natural resource protection in the Methow Valley.

By the numbers

Founded in 1977 to simply create a great Nordic ski area in Washington, we now:

  1. Are North America’s largest cross-country ski area with 200 kilometers of trails groomed nightly.

  2. Offer free skiing to kids under 17 years and under and seniors 75 and older.

  3. Partner with over 175 landowners who allow public trail access on their properties.

  4. Employ a 12-member grooming team with over 140 years of collective ski-grooming experience, a five-member office team, a three-member summer trails technician team and a dedicated board of directors.

  5. Provide free spring, summer, and fall access at 11 Methow Valley trailheads.

  6. Manage a trail system that generates $12.4 million annually for the local economy.

  7. Have 2,500+ hours contributed annually from volunteers.


In 1972, the opening of the North Cascades Highway (Highway 20) enhanced the potential for tourism and related outdoor activities in the Methow Valley region. The setting of Okanogan County’s Methow Valley is inimitable, lending both a perfectly scaled geography and a diversity of natural-resource attributes for a recreation-based community. Seeing this unique opportunity as a catalyst for the region’s economic base that would maintain the spectacular natural attributes of the area, a handful of valley residents envisioned and inspired cooperation among private landowners and various agencies to form the Methow Valley Family Sports Club in 1977 and the Methow Valley Community Trail (aka Community Trail). By 1980, the organization changed its name to the Methow Valley Ski Touring Association and shortly after hired its first staff. From 1995 to 2014, the organization was known as the Methow Valley Sport Trails Association. In the fall of 2014 the name was shortened to Methow Trails as it stands today.

Since its humble beginnings, the non-profit organization has grown and has facilitated the development of the nation’s largest Nordic ski trail system, transforming the once- disconnected series of trails within the region into an elaborate network containing nearly 200 kilometers of all-season trails surrounded by more than a million acres of national wilderness and forest lands.

As the region has grown with an increasing number of second homes and lodging facilities, the trails have become a central attraction and have contributed to both the near-term and long-run economic stability of the valley. The 32-kilometer Community Trail remains the central trail corridor through the valley and connects the northwest community of Mazama with Winthrop and Sun Mountain Lodge.

Today the network of trails generates about $4.5 million directly, another $4.1 million indirectly, and another $2.7 million annually through related industry earnings in the Methow Valley. Additionally, some 49 full-time jobs and 159 seasonal full-time and/or part-time jobs can be directly attributed to the network of trails and adjacent lands.

Primary winter uses of the trails include Nordic or cross-country skiing fat biking, and snowshoeing. In the summer, the trails become a mecca for mountain bikers and hikers. Other trail uses include equestrian riding, dog walking, running, nature observation, and access to fly-fishing areas.

Some 52 percent of the trail system is on U.S. Forest Service (USFS) lands with another 0.02 percent on U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) lands. Of the remaining lands, 2.1 percent is on Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) land, and another 1.7 percent is on Washington State Department of Fish & Wildlife (WDFW) lands secured with 20-year permits. The remainder runs over a complex of private lands on which Methow Trails has entered into long-term agreements with landowners.