CHECK IT OUT
Distance: 18 miles
Skiing time: 2-1/2 days
Season: December through March
Maps: USGS Rendezvous Mountain, Lewis Butte. Also, Rendezvous Ski Trails available from Methow Valley Sports Trails Association
Info: Methow Valley Central Reservations, (800) 422-3048
SKI TOURING TRIP NOTES
Access: From downtown Winthrop, Wash., head west on U.S. Highway 20 a short way, then turn right at Y onto Chewuch River Road. Drive nearly 6 miles and turn left at skier-access sign onto Cub Creek Road. Drive uphill to parking area at end of plowed road.
To shuttle car to Mazama, continue northwest on Highway 20 about 13 miles from Winthrop and turn right toward Mazama. After crossing Methow River, follow signs toward Mazama Country Inn. Parking for Rendezvous area overnighters is near corrals.
Attractions: Route leads through backcountry system that includes 23 miles (37 kilometers) of machine groomed trails. Five rustic, wood-heated huts stocked with cooking utensils and firewood are scattered through system, allowing skiers to stay overnight or even ski hut-to-hut for modest fees. Carry gear in backpacks, or hire freight-haul service to motor food, sleeping bags and clothing in by snowmobile. Wide trails groomed for skating or classic. But area especially notable as excellent family introduction to backcountry skiing.
Comments: Area popular for day trips as well as overnighters. Expert skiers ski Cub Creek to Fawn Hut and back in one day. If planning to stay in Rendezvous Hut, book well in advance through Methow Valley Central Reservations. Cost: $25 per person or $140 per night for exclusive use of a hut, which holds maximum of eight. Freight haul is $70 per shuttle.
Huts have propane cook stoves and wood heating stoves, but no plumbing. Melt snow for water and use outhouses for restrooms. Bunks with pads provided. Guests must bring own sleeping bags.
Rendezvous area only one part of nearly 200-kilometer Methow Valley Sport Trails Association trail system. Trail passes required for using trails. Passes available in Winthrop or Mazama.
Featured route avoids steepest trail segments as much as possible. But Little Cub Creek trail (steep sections), Cougar Mountain Loop, Cassal Creek and other trails are interesting side trips to explore while based in Rendezvous area, or on way out. Note that Cougar Mountain Loop is marvelously designed so that gentle ascent leads to screaming decent.
Featured route mostly uphill, but with plenty of gradual areas on first day to Rendezvous Hut. Elevation gain 1,365 feet to stands of huge Ponderosa pines. Slow skiers should allow five hours, including time for lunch along trail.
First night could be at either Gardner or Rendezvous huts. Gardner hut newer and more spacious, but it’s near trail junction and can get considerable traffic from day-use skiers. Rendezvous Hut smaller, more rustic, but at end of trail where few other skiers visit.
Second leg of trip to Fawn Hut eventually loses only 500 feet elevation. Route stays high to maximize time in best snow conditions.
Last leg of trip from Fawn Hut to Sno-Park parking area has some zippy downhills. The 3 miles (4.8 kilometers) is quick trip if you want it to be.
Overnight skiers not allowed to park in Sno-Park lot. They must continue nearly a mile farther on groomed trail to corral parking area near Mazama Country Inn.
Recorded trail info for entire Methow Valley, (800) 682-5787.
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Map of Rendezvous Hut-to-Hut Ski Tour
The following fields overflowed: SUPCAT = COLUMN - Routes: Classic Trips in the Inland Northwest
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