Night falls fast.

Methow Val­ley, WA

Backpacker - - NEWS -

Ready for your first win­ter overnight? Here’s a re­li­able formula: Take low-an­gle ter­rain with re­li­able snow cov­er­age and sub­tract routefind­ing and trail-break­ing from your itin­er­ary. On the east­ern side of the Cas­cades, a groomed, 124-mile Nordic trail net­work makes for good en­try-level travel for snow­shoers. After a leisurely tour, spend the long night in com­fort: The Ren­dezvous Hut sys­tem in­cludes five shel­ters, each with trail ac­cess and bunks for eight to 10 peo­ple. From Griz­zly Hut (mile 9 on the Nordic trail), ski or snow­shoe about a mile up 4,275-foot Griz­zly Moun­tain to views of the North Cas­cades with 8,898-foot Gard­ner Moun­tain front and cen­ter. “In our basin you get amaz­ing views with­out overly stren­u­ous climbs,” says owner Ben Nel­son. “And we’re high enough and close enough to the Cas­cade Crest that we get nice, dry snow.” Those 11,000foot­ers on the hori­zon dampen the force of Pa­cific storms, which means am­ple win­ter sun for Methow Val­ley skiers. And pretty much guar­an­tees your first snowy ex­cur­sion will be one of many.

TRAIL­HEAD 48.529675, -120.256682; 150 miles east of Belling­ham on Gunn Ranch Rd. CAMP Ren­dezvous Huts (start­ing at $150/night for the hut); ren­dezvoushuts.com PER­MIT Methow Trails pass re­quired ($24/day) CON­TACT methow­trails.org

Big Dominguez Canyon

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