The Methow Valley’s skiing, scenery, and extensive trail system has been getting attention in recent years well beyond the Pacific Northwest for being the nation’s largest cross-country ski area. For good reason too. 120 miles of well-groomed, peaceful Nordic trails with a growing network of fat bike and snowshoe trails nestled in the majestic North Cascades makes it an unmatched winter recreation destination for those looking for an alternative to alpine ski resorts. The number of quality lodges, resorts, cabins, restaurants, breweries, and other recreational amenities lend to the Methow Valley’s authentic charm and character, ensuring an active winter getaway with all the comforts you could hope for.

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, with trailheads and lodges along the way. The non-profit organization Methow Trails manages and maintains this world-class, year-round trail system. A Nordic or fat bike day pass is $22 and a three day pass is $57. A snowshoe day pass is $5. Kids 17 and under ski free in the Methow every day, and the trail system is dog friendly with a $5 daily dog pass. Find more info, including local shops that rent and sell ski, fat bike, and snowshoe equipment at methowtrails.org.

Methow Trails Nordic Festival (January 23-25)
It’s no exaggeration to say that there’s pretty much something for everyone here on day two of the Methow Trails Nordic Festival. You want to race classic or test your winter lungs on a 15K trail run? Join a ski or snowshoe tour? Build your skills with a clinic? Or get happy hour started early with chili and beer at the Mazama Store? You’re covered with this inclusive event schedule:

Friday: Ski Free and Fat Bike Demo. The Backyard Ski Day means you can ski the Nordic trails around Winthrop for free all day and take advantage of free ski rentals and lessons. It’s the perfect opportunity for a group of friends or your whole family to give Nordic skiing a try. Also on Friday, you can demo the latest fat bikes with Methow Cycle & Sport from 9 a.m. to noon at the Town Trailhead.

Photo: Courtesy Methow Valley Photography

Photo: Courtesy Methow Valley Photography

Saturday: Races, Clinics, Tours, and Socials

  • 8 a.m. 15 K winter trail run on the Sun Mountain Trails hosted by Rainshadow Running.
  • 9:30 a.m. 30K classic race or tour from Winthrop to Mazama on the Methow Community Trail.
  • 11 a.m. guided snowshoe and natural history tour.
  • Noon to 3 p.m. chili and beer “Happy Hour” at the Mazama Store.
  • 2-4 p.m. skate ski clinic for runners hosted by Methow Endurance.
  • 4-6 p.m. Sunday skate race/relay/tour registration and packet pick-up at the Red Barn.
  • 6 p.m. Nordic Festival Dinner, hosted by the Methow Valley Nordic Ski Team at the Red Barn.

Sunday: More Racing and Post-race Party

  • 9:30 a.m. interval start for Pursuit Ski Race racers, based on classic day result.
  • 10:15 a.m. self-seeded “mass start” for Team Relay and 30K or 10K skate tour.
  • 12-2 p.m. post-race party, music and awards ceremony at the Red Barn.

Guided Snowshoeing Tours

The Methow Valley has endless terrain for snowshoeing, including “groomed” and signed snowshoe trails, guided snowshoe outings and options for longer backcountry excursions. The Methow Trails signed snowshoe trails have something for all abilities (a $5 a day trail pass is required). Methow Trails hosts family-friendly snowshoe tours at 11 a.m. on Saturdays between January 3 and February 21. Local volunteers lead tours that focus on winter ecology, wildlife and tracks, snow science and more. Tour size is limited to 10 people, and space is available on a first-come, first-served basis. More info: Methowtrails.org/winter-trails/snowshoe. //