Five Favorite Winter ActivitiesThe recreational opportunities in the Wenatchee Valley are so extensive that it’s sometimes tough to decide what activity to pursue on any given day. What a great problem to have, right?If I’m looking for something new to try or somewhere new to explore, I head to the guidebooks on the WenatcheeOutdoors website. There, I can do some quick searches sorting by activity, rough location, and difficulty level. But I also have a handful of favorites that guarantee good fun and a great workout.
- Skiing at Mission Ridge (Wenatchee)
Mission Ridge is located only 13 miles outside of Wenatchee - you can get to the parking lot in twenty minutes from town! Even better, it’s often in the sun even when the town is under an inversion layer. Don’t fret if the lot looks full, the 36 designated runs are rarely crowded.The snow conditions are dependably good, but if there isn’t fresh snow, Mission Ridge has world-class snow making abilities that allow the hill to dodge the sucker punch of unfavorable weather. The spectacular 360-degree view from the top of Chair 2 (Liberator) boasts the Columbia River, Wenatchee Valley, Mt. Rainier, Mt. Adams, and more. The view alone is worth the price of admission ($69 for a day pass), but the hill also provides great terrain for all skill levels.If you can tear yourself away from the skiing, stop by the Midway Lodge to grab a breakfast burrito or Chair Five Pub for a burger and a craft beer. Mission Ridge is also open for night skiing on Saturday nights and finishes it out with live music for the Mountain Music Series. For more information, visit www.missionridge.com
- Snowshoeing the Icicle River Trails (Leavenworth)
The Icicle River Trail System is groomed for Nordic skiing and snowshoeing just outside of the town of Leavenworth. The views of the surrounding ridges and of the Icicle River Valley are stunning, especially if you’re there on a sunny day after a fresh snow. The trails meander through forests, meadows, and dense thickets, taking you up close to Icicle Creek in many locations. The area is well-suited to both beginners and experienced snowshoers looking for a workout.It’s a popular spot and will be bustling with like-minded outdoor enthusiasts. The trails are groomed and maintained by the Leavenworth Winter Sports Club and the trail fee is $10 for snowshoeing. After snowshoeing, head across the street to the charming O’Grady’s Pantry and Mercantile for a delicious scratch-made meal paired with a Northwest wine or coffee.
- Skiing at Echo Ridge (Chelan)
Offering sunshine, dependable snow and spectacular views, the Echo Ridge Nordic Ski Trails are a sure bet! Only 10 miles from downtown Chelan, the area offers ridge-top loop skiing at its best. The area is often above the clouds and has breathtaking views of Lake Chelan, the Enchantments, Pyramid Peak, and the Okanogan Highlands.Echo Ridge has almost 25 miles of expertly groomed terrain for every skill level of skate and classic skiing. The loop trails are varied; cruising over the flats, meandering over rolling hills, circling ridge tops, and swooping in and out of broad drainages. While many trails are wide and inviting, some are designed for single track skiing in a remote, back-country setting. There is truly something for everyone!Day ski passes are $10 per person and can be purchased at the self-service fee areas located at the trail heads. Kids 17 and under ski free! I love to pack snacks and a thermos of cocoa and bring them into the cozy warming yurt for a mid-ski break. If you’re feeling adventurous after a day of skiing, stop by Echo Valley on your way back down the hill for some tobogganing or tubing!
- Hiking to Ancient Lake (Quincy)
When there’s not much snow on the ground, I head to Ancient Lake. This 4.7-mile trail, located eleven miles outside of Quincy, travels through beautiful shrub sage country and offers scenic views of the Columbia River. Sunken lakes rimmed by rust-colored basalt cliffs, frozen waterfalls, and fascinating geological landscapes are additional attractions. The out-and-back trail is flat and straight-forward, but due to the lack of signage, you should use a map to navigate.This hike will give you a dose of peaceful solitude, but you might come across a lone tent on the edge of one of the lakes and most likely another group of hikers out on a similar romp. Parking at the trailhead requires a Discover Pass, which can be purchased at State Parks and anywhere fishing licenses are sold. After your hike, stop by Tower Pizza in Crescent Bar for a slice and pint - you earned it!
- Walk the Apple Capital Loop Trail (Wenatchee)
f you don’t have time to travel out of town, but still need a dose of fresh air, exercise, and scenic views, the Apple Capital Loop Trail has you covered. The 10-mile paved loop runs along the riverfront on both the east and west sides of the river, crossing at the Obadashian and Pedestrian Bridges.The scenery is impressive in any season, but winter gives the river a pristine beauty. The path is usually peaceful and quiet in the colder months and wanders through several riverside parks.I like to start my walk at Pybus Public Market so I can grab a coffee or tea to go. Parking at the market also gives you the option to grab a snack or meal at one of the several restaurants after your walk, as well!