ADVANCE FOR WEEKEND EDITIONS, JAN. 16-17- In this photo taken Jan. 1, 2015, Washington State Park volunteer Dave Acheson leads a group of fat tire bike riders along Rex Derr Trail overlooking Pearrygin Lake near Winthrop, Wash. (Stephen Mitchell via AP)

ADVANCE FOR WEEKEND EDITIONS, JAN. 16-17- In this photo taken Jan. 1, 2015, Washington State Park volunteer Dave Acheson leads a group of fat tire bike riders along Rex Derr Trail overlooking Pearrygin Lake near Winthrop, Wash. (Stephen Mitchell via AP)

Snow biking inspires new winter trail options

SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — 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.

On the other hand, fat bikes rule at Pearrygin Lake State Park, Washington’s newest Sno-Park destination for non-motorized winter recreation.

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.

Pearrygin Park is 188 miles from downtown Spokane and 4 miles from Winthrop.

“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.”

In the Spokane area, fat biking enthusiasts are following snowshoers, or making their own winter routes, in areas such as Riverside State Park, as well as Canfield Mountain Trail System near Coeur d’Alene.

Trails in some of the Spokane County Conservation Futures areas also are ripe for single-tracking. Although snowmobiles are prohibited from operating in county conservation areas, Dave Dutro of Trail Maniacs has taken grooming into his own hands at the Saltese Uplands Conservation Area in Spokane Valley.

Last week, he tested a low-tech apparatus to pack a route through the fluffy powder for snowshoers and fat bikers.

“I love trails,” he said, as if to rationalize rigging up a rake behind a sled weighted with 120 pounds of sand bags.

Wearing snowshoes, Dutro dragged the muscle-powered groomer to pack 4.5 miles of trail that sweep up and down from a ridge that overlooks Liberty Lake.

“It was pretty hard work,” the fitness buff said. “But the result was pretty good.”

In other places such as Canfield, he said it’s much easier to simply get a group of snowshoers to go on a long hike. It’s another low-tech, low-cost way to pave the trail for fat bikes.

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 trail system in the region.

Snow-bikers and snowshoers are not allowed on the Methow’s groomed cross-country skiing trails, but the options for all of the winter sports continue to grow.

Three bike shops in the Methow Valley are renting fat bikes for use on certain designated groomed Nordic 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 non-motorized 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.

Mount Spokane State Park allows snow bikes only on designated groomed snowmobile routes. Cyclists must check rules at each public area they enter for varying rules on bike travel.

But if the trend continues, cyclists and snowshoers can anticipate more routes to be tended for them in the future.

More in Life

Ward off Halloween’s mystical monsters with these garlic-infused cheesy shells and pepper sauce. (Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)
On the strawberry patch: Tasty Halloween

Keep spooky creatures at bay with garlic-infused shells and pepper sauce.

Will Morrow (courtesy)
Let there be lights!

When I stopped in at one of our local stores, I didn’t cringe when I saw all the holiday decorations on display.

Cabbage, potatoes, salmon and an assortment of pantry staples make for a culinary challenge. (Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)
On the strawberry patch: Take a culinary pop quiz

Get creative with what’s in your pantry

This undated John E. Thwaites photo, perhaps taken near Seward, shows the S.S. Dora grounded. (Alaska State Library photo collection)
Resilience of the Dora, part 3

Her long career had come to an end at last.

Nick Varney
Unhinged Alaska: Sometimes I wonder, who needs who

Dog whispers we are not. Suckers for unconditional love, you bet.

Meredith Harber (courtesy)
Minister’s Message: Don’t let termination dust bring you down

If I’m honest, this time of year is the hardest for me mentally and emotionally.

Pieces hang on display at the Kenai Art Center for the open call show on Wednesday, Oct. 6, 2021 in Kenai, Alaska. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
‘They felt like they could share with us now’

Art center open call offers space for new artists.

The Cosmic Hamlet Entertainment film crew prepares for a new scene to roll on the set of “Bolt from the Blue” at the Kilcher Homestead on Sept. 28. (Photo by Sarah Knapp/Homer News)
‘Bolt from the Blue’ film features Homer

“The Office” star Kate Flannery cast in feature film produced in Homer.

These old-fashioned doughnuts don’t skimp on the fat or sugar. (Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)
On the strawberry patch: Memories of old-fashioned doughnuts

My recipe is for old-fashioned doughnuts, and since I make these maybe twice a year, I don’t skimp on the sugar and fat.

Virginia Walters (Courtesy photo)
Life in the Pedestrian Lane: October is here again

The days are shorter. We are losing nearly six minutes a day. It’s getting colder.

This John E. Thwaites photo shows the S.S. Dora near Sand Point, Alaska. Thwaites sailed as mail clerk on the Dora between at least 1905 and 1912. (Alaska State Library photo collection)
Resilience of the Dora, part 2

The S.S. Dora touched lives on and became part of the history of the Kenai Peninsula and Southcentral Alaska.

Steller Sea Lions can be seen in an enclosure at the Alaska SeaLife Center on Friday, Sept. 24, 2021, in Seward, Alaska. (Photo by Erin Thompson/Peninsula Clarion)
Alaska SeaLife Center to Alaskans: We’re still here for you

You rallied and kept us alive. Today, we’re writing to say thank you.