Added by Nick Lake
- Distance: 3.7 mile lollipop
- Elevation gain: 1100 feet
- Duration: ~ 4 hours
- 360-degree Panoramic views of the Methow Valley, Okanagon Forest and North Cascades
- Incredible star and Milky Way viewing
- Right outside Winthrop, WA, an old-west town on the Methow River
The Patterson Mountain loop is the perfect way for a beginner to intermediate hiker to get acquainted with the arid eastern slope of the North Cascades. This 3.7-mile lollipop with about 1100 feet of elevation gain showcases the open country of the high desert, blanketed with wildflowers in the spring and early summer and golden aspens in the autumn, and the sawtooth North Cascade range to the west. It sometimes goes unnoticed due to its proximity to Sun Valley Resort, so you may find yourself sharing the trails with only the mules and deer.
Beginning at the boat launch on the eastern shore of Patterson Lake, cross Patterson Lake Road and start up the trail until you reach a gate. Here you can choose the North Route or South Route. Be sure to close the gate behind you as livestock can escape. Continue along the broad, sage-covered hillside between stands of Aspen and Ponderosa Pine until you reach the spur to the summit. Take a few moments to enjoy the 360-degree view from the top of the North Cascades National Park to the west, the town of Winthrop and the Methow Valley to the north, and the Okanagan Forest to the east.
Stick around after dark for the light show: the Milky Way stretches from horizon to horizon on a clear night. When you’ve soaked in the panoramic vistas to your heart’s content, either head back down the route you came or finish the loop. Be sure to check in at the Old Schoolhouse Brewery here in downtown Winthrop for a pint of their Imperial IPA, one of the best in Washington.
Things to Keep in Mind:
- A Discovery Pass is required to park at the boat launch trailhead
- Summer temperatures can reach 100 degrees regularly—dress appropriately and bring plenty of water
- Rattlesnakes do make their home in the Methow Valley, so keep an eye out for slithery companions
- Much of the trail winds through pasture lands where signs warn of potentially aggressive mules; keep your distance if you see any
- The North Cascades Highway is closed due to heavy snow and avalanche danger, usually from November until April. Be sure to check the WA-DOT pass website to make sure Washington Pass is open. Otherwise, approach along Rt. 97 from Wenatchee.
- Hiking Shoes
- Water (especially in the summer—it’s the desert!)
- Extra layer for the summit (it gets chilly if it’s windy)
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