Tucked in the eastern foothills of the North Cascades lies Methow Valley. Along the Methow River lie the cities of Winthrop, Twisp, and Mazama, all home to an abundance of outdoor recreation. Located in northern central Washington the Methow Valley gets the best of both sides of Washington State; rugged mountains interspersed with rolling hills hot summer months, perfect for exploring. Despite it’s seemingly remote location, the valley is just four hours from Seattle and 3:15 from Spokane, the two most populous cities in the state.
Winthrop is designed to look like the old American West making it a popular tourist destination. Yet it’s the land that surrounds these small mountain towns that keeps visitors coming back. A long weekend to this quaint region of Washington will allow you to catch a glimpse of what Methow Valley has to offer. Hundreds of miles of trails for hiking, running, and mountain biking can be found amidst the pristine rivers and lakes. When it comes to Methow Valley, it’s not a matter of if you should visit. But rather how many activities you can enjoy and when you can be back again.
We were inspired by the “carpe diem” attitude of 57hours.com, a service that links up nine-to-fivers with certified guides across the US to help you plan a jam packed weekend. 57Hours represents a philosophy on recreation – you have exactly 57 hours between 3 PM on Friday (a reasonable time to call it early and leave work) and midnight Sunday, to yourself. Those 57 hours are a precious resource, and you’ve got to make the most of them. So in the spirit of 57hours.com, we present to you a curated agenda for exploring throughout Methow Valley, Washington over a 57-hour weekend. Here’s the low-down on how to make the most of your 57 hours.
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3 PM Friday – Mountain Biking
With sunsets while past 9pm in the summer, you’ll have plenty of time to explore after arriving on your first night. Methow Valley, surrounding Winthrop, Twisp, and Mazama, boasts nearly 200 miles of mountain biking trails all within a short drive away. Whether you’re looking for rolling dirt roads and advanced technical trails, the valley is sure to have it.
Beginners can grab their mountain bike, or rent one in Winthrop, and go explore Sun Mountain Trails. The network of trails is just a short 20 minute drive from downtown and offers routes for any skill level. Pass along Patterson Lake, while more experienced riders can explore the Thompsons Ridge Trail to watch the sunset before biking or driving back into town.
Intermediate riders and expert riders can travel 20 minutes east over to Pipestone Canyon to test their skills. A singletrack advanced loop winds through the region for 14 miles. A moderate loop along dirt roads travels 16 miles, both offer stunning views of the rolling hills and rugged peaks.
After an initial quick night on the trails, you’ll be wanting to rest up before the weekend of adventures. There are numerous campgrounds located just outside of the small cities within the valley. Popular spots include the Winthrop KOA, Pearrygin Lake State Park, and the Pine Near RV Park and Campground. Whether you’re pitching a tent, parking your adventure van, or setting up a hammock, these spots are sure to act as a home base for the weekend ahead.
After you set up camp, perhaps you head downtown to just one of the city’s quaint restaurants along the river. Enjoy a drink at Methow Valley Ciderhouse before resting up for all the adventures to come.
Saturday Morning – Hiking & Trail Running
An early morning rise can help ensure you can start your adventure filled day before the summer sun gets too hot. Swing into downtown Winthorp to grab some coffee and pastries from Sheri’s Sweet Shoppe. Then it’s time to explore the trails by foot. The valley is home to over 120 miles of hiking and running trails to help please those at any skill level.
Beginners have plenty of options to choose from when it comes to hiking or trail running. Located around 35 minutes west of Winthorp lies countless trails within Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest. Right off the highway are a plethora of shorter trails to choose from such as Lake Ann Trail, Cutthroat Lake Trail, and the Cedar Falls Trail. Each of the trails total under four miles roundtrip with less than 1,000 feet elevation gain. Enjoy the short hike/run or take some time to cool off in the lakes and enjoy an early lunch.
Intermediate hikes offer slightly longer distances and more elevation leading to viewpoints around Winthorp and within the Rendezvous Wildlife Area. The Patterson Mountain Trail is just 3.7 miles but has 1,100 feet of elevation gain. A hike up to Lewis Butte takes visitors through the abundant fields of wildflowers for 5 miles and 1,000 feet of elevation gain.
Advanced hikers and trail runners can test their limits on some of the more challenging trails in the area. One of the most popular longer trails is Cutthroat Lake and Cutthroat Pass. This 11.4 mile hike has nearly 2,500 feet of elevation along with sweeping views of the North Cascades. For a short yet challenging hike, be sure to check out the Copper Glance Lake Trail. Though it is just 5.8 miles roundtrip the steep trail has over 3,000 feet of elevation gain.
Saturday Afternoon – Climbing
When you’re driving back east towards Winthorp along Highway-20, be sure to take a quick break in Mazama. Nestled along the Methow River lies Woodstone Pizzeria, the perfect spot to grab a bite before even more exploring.
Surrounding the small town lies a mecca for rock climbing. The area boasts over 170 routes with a large majority of them being sport climbs. Climbins range from beginner to advanced with both single and multi pitches available.
Just off of the highway, most of the routes are at the Phun Rock, The Matrix, and Prospector Crags. Some of the most popular routes include Flyboys and Prime Rib on Goat Wall along with Snake Fingers on Phun Rock.
After a full day of hiking, running, and climbing, it’s time to refuel and unwind back in Winthrop. Explore the scenic downtown and grab a bite to eat at Old Schoolhouse Brewery right off of the Chewuch River. For a more casual atmosphere head on over to Three Fingered Jack’s Saloon before resting up for one final day of adventures.
Sunday Morning – Fishing
It’s your final day in Methow Valley so an early start is a must. To make the most out of your last few hours, grab your fishing gear and experience some of the best waterways in Eastern Washington.
To stay close to town, pay a visit to Big Twin Lake. Known for its fly fishing, the lake offers all the solitude of a morning fish, all while staying close to town. Just 10 minutes from downtown Winthorp lies Davis Lake. Another few minutes down the road brings you to Campbell Lake, less visited than the other two but still worth the trip.
Sunday Afternoon – Rafting
A trip to Methow Valley wouldn’t be complete without exploring the whitewaters the region is known for. Methow Rafting offers trips for all skills levels across various sports.
Rafting trips explore the Black Canyon, Gold Creek, and Skagit river for an adrenaline packed adventure. Guides offer both full day and half day experiences, sure to cool you off in the afternoon heat. For a more calmer and more scenic excursion, book a kayak tour through the calmer waters around Winthrop and Gold Creek. For those looking to relax and let the water do all the work, spend the afternoon tubing down the Methow River.
After a long weekend full of adventures, swing into town to grab a coffee from Kind Grinds to help keep you awake before your drive home. As you drive out of the valley, you can rest assured Sunday night that you made the most of your 57 hours in Methow Valley.
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