Methow Magic

2024 Endurance Adventures Methow Valley Trip Highlights

Skiing along Winthrop River!

Similar to much of United States, the temperatures in Washington had been unseasonably warm this past winter. Despite the warm weather there was a decent base of snow at most of the trailheads. The 240 km Methow Valley Trail system starts in the country western town of Winthrop and ends in the town of Mazama. Before the participants arrived, I had a few days to explore and check out the trail conditions. My first stop was skiing at the Rendezvous Trails which starts at a higher elevation of 2,000 ft. and climbs to around 4,000 ft.

I started my ski at Cub Creek Trailhead and climbed up Little Cub Creek which is a long steady ascent of 2,000 feet. Soon I found myself in a full on snow storm which was an incredible delight after the long snowless winter in the Midwest. Along my ski adventure, I discovered both the Rendezvous and Heifer Huts which are locally owned and operated ski-in ski-out lodging since the early 1980’s. The huts are heated by a cozy wood burning stove and include a kitchen and bunk beds. Cub Creek is one of my favorite venues to ski with the challenging climbs and vista views.

Talks Foster Suspension Bridge crossing on skis!

The following day I explored the Methow Community Trail starting from Browns Farm Trailhead and skied to the next town in Mazama for lunch. The majestic ski along the Methow river and crossing the Foster Suspension bridge was stunning.

Grand Coulee Dam

After a few days of skiing, I traveled back to Spokane to pick up the trip participants at the airport. Everyone enjoyed the stunning scenery of apple orchards and vineyards scattered along the Okanogan Valley. The drive follows parts of the Columbia and Methow Rivers with mountains in the backdrop. We stopped at the Grand Coulee Dam which is the largest power station in the United States.

North Cascade mountain views from Sun Mountain Lodge.

For the first three days of the trip our group stayed at Sun Mountain Lodge located at an elevation of 2,726 feet. One of the perks of skiing in the Methow Valley, is the lower elevation range of trails from Winthrop starting at around 1,000 feet to skiing at the top of the Rendezvous Trails at 4,000 feet.

The Methow Trails was founded in 1977 and provides a world-class trail system of 240 km that flow through towns, along rivers, restaurants, breweries, warming huts and lodges. The trails are groomed daily and posted on an App with live color coded trails displaying the latest weather and trail conditions. There are a variety of beginner to advanced ski trails which offers challenges for all abilities.

Gunn Ranch ski on the Rendezvous Trails

The group started the the day enjoying breakfast at the Sun Mountain dining room with an amazing view of the North Cascade mountain range. We decided to tackle the more difficult trails for our morning ski up at Gunn Ranch Trailhead on the Rendezvous system.

Susan skiing up Gunn Ranch Trail

It was a blue bird day with temperatures in the upper 30’s, making for spectacular views of the mountain range and valley. The conditions were a bit thin at the start of the trail, but as you climbed to higher elevation there was a nice base of snow that was groomed to perfection.

Caroline skiing along Beaver Pond near Sun Mountain Lodge.

After enjoying lunch at the Arrowleaf Bistro, we headed back to Sun Mountain Lodge where some of the participants enjoyed a massage at the hotel spa. Those who desired more skiing headed out for an afternoon ski on the Little Wolf and Beaver Pond trails located out the door of Sun Mountain Lodge.

Cub Creek Trail

The following day we explored more of the Rendezvous trails from Cub Creek Trailhead. Skiers enjoyed a trailside lunch after skiing up a strenuous 1,000 feet of elevation gain on Cub and Cow Creek Trails. Along the climb, skiers enjoyed views of large Ponderosa Pine trees and mountain vistas.

Trail lunch stop after climbing 1,800 feet to an amazing view!
Kim Rudd dropping off a donation.

To show our appreciation for the excellent grooming, we left some snacks in the “groomers gift” mailbox halfway up the route. After reaching the turnround point, we enjoyed a trailside lunch of hot beverages and fresh bakery bread while looking out at the mountain view. The total elevation of our ski was around 1,800 ft of climbing, so the descent back to the van was a welcomed rest!

In the afternoon we headed to the Town of Twisp to check out the art gallery and gift shop at the The Confluence . Trip participants enjoyed wine tasting at Ryzo Tasting room followed by a delectable Italian dinner at Tappi.

Skiing along Goat Creek Trail along Winthrop River

Day three we woke up to a fresh cover of snow and headed to the the opposite end of the Methow Trail system in Mazama. The group worked on classic technique drills as we took in views of the Methow river and skied under a canopy of tall Cedar trees. Fresh banquettes and hot beverages awaited us for lunch at the Mazama Store.

Hot-tub soak at Freestone Lodge

Trip leader Cal Waichler who is a local Methow Valley ski coach and artist, skied the group back to our second lodging stop at Freestone Inn. Participants finished off a perfect day of skiing in the Methow Valley with appetizers and a soak in the outdoor hot-tub! The crew devoured homemade pizza at Jacks Hut across from our Lodge while watching the Super Bowl and World Cup ski races simultaneously!

Day four adventure started with a ski right out the front door of Freestone Inn. The ski up Jacks Trail brought us to a wide open valley which provided incredible views of the mountains. Halfway through the ski, hot beverages and snacks were enjoyed in the sunshine at Cow Beach shelter.

Kathleen posing by the Methow River and Goat Mt.

We finished our ski weaving along the Methow River on the Upper and Lower River Run Trail. The majestic views of Goat Mountain, blue skies and the Methow River flowing in the background was a popular “selfie” photo stop.

The group met up with Olympian Brian Gregg’s parents at the Mazama Public Brewery House for dinner where we learned more interesting facts about the Methow Valley history.

The last day we split into two groups with half of us going back to Sun Mountain trails for more climbing while the rest of the crew enjoyed flatter skiing down in the valley. The 360 views climbing up Meadowlark and Thompson Pass Trails was a perfect way to end the trip.

360 view at the top of Meadowlark at Sun Mountain Trails

We finished off the day with dinner at the Winthrop Cider House with live music from a local opera singer originally from Cuba. Stories and laughter were shared while sipping on a cold brew and listening to amazing music!

Desire to visit the Methow Valley with Endurance Adventures? Mark your calendars for next years trip January 23 – 29, 2025. For more information on the Methow Valley Trip visit our website page here.

Kim Rudd