Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Best kid-friendly hikes and bike rides in the Methow Valley - North Cascades hiking and biking with children

With our three kids at various ages, we've hiked most of the trails in the North Cascades that are doable for children.  We've also done our fair share of shlepping our offspring on trails that are difficult for adults, but that's a story for another day!

Here is a compilation of our favorite hikes and bike rides with kids in the Methow Valley.  We hang out there a lot because it's only a one and a half hour drive from our homestead, and it's much sunnier there than the rainy West-side of the mountains, with completely different flora and fauna (and our absolutely favorite bakery "Cinnamon Twisp").


Hikes

Sun Mountain Lodge trails

With gorgeous views, easy access and many varied miles of scenic hiking trails, Sun Mountain Lodge is hard to beat.  Although the Beaver Pond trail is famous for birds and wildlife, our favorite hike is the View Ridge trail, because of the stunning views of the surrounding mountains and the valley below.  It reminds me a little bit of the alpine region of my Southern German homeland.  You can make the hike into a loop by taking the Kraule trail back to the lodge, or extend the hike to various length on other trails.  

Here's a map of the trail system, and there are also maps and good markings on the trails.

From Winthrop take Twin Lakes Road for 3 1/2 miles and turn right on Patterson Lake Road.  Drive 5 1/2 miles to Sun Mountain Lodge.




Patterson Mountain

This 4 mile round-trip is on the way to Sun Mountain Lodge as well.  The wildflowers in spring and early summer are breathtaking, as are the views of the surrounding mountains and beautiful Patterson Lake below.  You could even run into some mules, which are apparently harmless to humans, if not to dogs.

From Winthrop take Twin Lakes Road for 3 1/2 miles and turn right on Patterson Lake Road.  Continue to the lake and park at the boat launch on the left. 





Pipestone Canyon

You could also do this as a bike ride.  It's a 5 mile round-trip in a gorgeous sandstone, rock-wall canyon located 7 miles Southeast of Winthrop.  This area is famous for birdwatching.  We've been hesitant to hike there because we heard that rattlesnakes love to hang out there in the hot summer, so it's best to do this hike in the spring and fall.  It's totally worth it!

From Winthrop, take East Side County Road 2 miles and turn left onto Bear Creek Road.  After 2.3 miles, turn right onto Lester Road, staying right onto Campbell Lake Road.  Continue 1.3 miles to the Pipestone Gate.



Lookout Mountain

We hiked here for my 40th birthday, and it made a special memory for us as a family.  It's a nice three mile round-trip hike to an abandoned fire lookout, from which you get a 360 degree view.  Very pretty, indeed.

From Twisp, drive West 1/4 mile on the Twisp River Road.  Turn left on Alder Creek Road (FS 4345-200) and continue 8 miles to the end of the road.



Goat Peak Lookout

This is a Methow Valley classic - a five mile round-trip hike to an active fire lookout on top of Goat Peak.  The 2.5 miles to the lookout are quite steep, but the climb is well worth the amazing views on top.
It's quite a drive to get to the trailhead, and it was rough going when we went, but it's worth it.

From Winthrop, take Highway 20 West for 8 miles.  Turn right onto Goat Creek Road (1163) at the Methow River bridge.  Drive 6.2 miles, turn right onto FS Road 52.  Go 3.7 miles, turn left on FS Road 5225.  Continue for 4.6 miles to FS Road 200.  Proceed 3 miles to the trailhead parking lot.  




Bike rides

One of my big loves is biking, and our two sons have done some pretty crazy bike rides with me.  My oldest son (he was 10 at the time) and I rode over the pass from Mazama.  I wrote about it here



Twisp River Road

This is such a pretty, picturesque ride.  It's very pastoral, with horses and cattle (and lots of deer) grazing in open fields.  Forests are interspersed with beautiful little homesteads, framed by mountains in the distance.  The ride follows the Twisp River, and you could ride all the way to the end of the road, or just go as long as you want and turn around.

Head West on the Twisp River Road from Twisp.




Twisp to Winthrop on the East County Road


This road parallels Highway 20 and is far less busy than the highway.  It's nine miles from Twisp to Winthrop, with a little up and down but totally doable, even for my six year old daughter on the ride-behind.  There's lots of beautiful things to look at while riding: old barns, mountains, lots of horses...

From Twisp, take the East County Road.  Preferably, start with a hearty breakfast at the Cinnamon Twisp Bakery!  Or start riding in Winthrop and have lunch at the bakery.  Whatever you do, eat a cinnamon roll for me, will ya?




Chewuch Loop Rides


This is an easy 14 mile loop ride, starting in Winthrop.  Start up the West Chewuch Road and then back on the East Chewuch Road.  You could ride even further up the Chewuch Road to get more exercise all the way to Andrews Creek (about 24 miles from Winthrop).  
The loop ride is scenic and blissful and offers sweeping views of mountains and valleys.  You could put your feet in the Chewuch River if you are getting too hot.




There are many more trails and roads to explore, but I don't have space here to explain them all.  The above are our favorites, though.

It doesn't matter where you go - just take your kids out into nature and instill a love for the Earth in them!  

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