Pearrygin Lake State Park is state’s newest winter recreation site.
WINTHROP, Okanogan County — Snowshoers and snow bikers appear to be forging a relationship that could expand the reach of single-track trails during winter.
While snowshoeing and winter cycling generally are banned from groomed skiing trails, the two winter recreation groups are finding harmony among themselves.
Snowshoeing continues to gain widespread popularity in the region and snow bikes are finding their niche — often in the routes packed by the web-footers. Complaints are rare. Packed snowshoe routes aren’t damaged by a snow bike with five-inch-wide tires.
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For two years, Methow Valley winter biking enthusiasts have been grooming single-track trails in and near the park that are ideal for snowshoeing, as well as for riding the balloon-tired bikes that are gaining popularity.
Last month, the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission announced Sno-Park designation to boost Pearrygin’s winter activities. A $3,500 grant from the Winter Recreation Advisory Committee will to help pay for trail grooming, facilities maintenance and snow removal for the 2015-16 winter season.
“The Methow Valley has become a focal point of the fat-tire bicycle phenomenon in the Northwest, and Pearrygin Lake is a great venue,” said Rick Lewis, State Parks’ Okanogan Highlands Area manager.
“Volunteers have been grooming a total of about 20 kilometers of trails in the park and a portion of the adjacent Methow Wildlife Area,” Lewis said. “They’re pretty well suited for fat bikes, snowshoeing and winter hiking, but not so great for cross-country skiers because the routes are twisty single track with some tight turns.”
Winter biking is just another way the Methow Valley is growing its winter economy, in addition to having the largest and most diverse groomed nordic skiing rail system in the region.
Snow-bikers and snowshoers are not allowed on the Methow Trails system’s groomed cross-country ski trails but are welcomed on other designated trails. Options for all of the winter sports continue to grow.
Three bike shops in the Methow Valley are renting fat bikes for use on designated trails as well as at Pearrygin. The shops are Methow Cycle and Sport in Winthrop, and Goat’s Beard Mountain Supplies and North Cascades Cycle Werks in Mazama.
The Sno-Park designation for Pearrygin could lead to more state areas with plowed parking areas for snowshoers and snow cyclists to stage. They simply have to be willing to help pay the costs.
Starting Dec. 15 each season through March, or as long as the snow lasts, visitors to Pearrygin Lake State Park will need a nonmotorized Sno-Park permit for vehicle access to the park and to use the trails. During the winter season, visitors will need only an annual $40 Sno-Park permit. No Discover Pass will be required.
Because of a quirk in the state law, if people choose to use a daily $20 Sno-Park permit, vehicles must also display an annual or daily Discover Pass.