The Echo Valley winter recreation area has a lot for everyone. Besides a non-profit community-run ski and tubing hill, there are trails for snowmobilers, snowshoers, cross-country ski, and fat-bikers.
I was able to pick another day that was forecasted to be cold and sunny. And, since we were staying nearby Lake Chelan, an 8:00 am start was easy to achieve.
Leaving from the Echo Valley ski hill, the snowmobile trail heads up to the Echo Valley Ridge.
From Echo ridge, the road winds nearly level along the north-side.
After passing a few blowdowns after the up-turn from FS 8021, the fresh-ish snowmobile tracks ended after another 1/2 mile. From there, I pushed up along the side of the valley, knowing I’d be all alone for a little while longer. The toe warmers were getting really hot in my shoes, but I didn’t want to take them out because, a) it’s awkward, and b) I’d need them 5 minutes later, and c) they swell up and get really hot when they are exposed to a lot of air. So, with nearly burning soles of my feet, I kept pushing up.
Finally, I could ride again and cool down my feet. Up along the ridge, there still wasn’t any sign of recent traffic. How nice.
That’s how I like my bike rides: spinning a low gear and churning the big tires through the snow. With great views.
The top of Cooper Mountain was wind-blown over an icy crust. Perfect for biking.
Lake Chelan down below.
That was the last ride of the year 2018. Wishing everyone a Happy New Year!
Interesting geography south-east of here across the Columbia; almost looks like what used to be the edge of a big lake in the far far distance.
And the Entiat mountain range across Lake Chelan looks like it also has a good snowmobile trail system as well; now I need to find a good weather-window to check it out.
Since riding the ridge had gone pretty well so far, I decided to go another 4 miles and check out the Yukon Warming Hut. The trail was mostly hardpacked as it hadn’t been traveled by snowmobilers in at least a day – just perfect conditions. It was 18 F, and going downhill in the shade meant I had to put on all my warm clothes. Hands get cold quickly when stopping to take pictures frequently!
The Yukon Warming Hut is located just off the main snowmobile route in the woods. Originally, I had planned to have a snack break there, but as it was cold and dark inside and outside the hut, I decided to stop along one of the many sunny spots with a view on the way back.
Inside the hut, is a big stove with firewood. Reminder: a lighter might be handy in my winter tool kit.
Here’s a much better snack-break spot: it’s just so beautiful up here!
On the way down, I decided to try out the supposedly closed FS 8020, as some snowmobiles had groomed the snow a bit. This route was much more scenic compared to going up on FS 8021, which is often in the trees and valleys.
But, I can see why 8020 isn’t the main snowmobile trail since it was completely covered in snowdrifts in places, like here:
Most snowdrifts were frozen enough to ride on! Unfortunately, that ended all too soon as vehicles had gone around the road closure on FS 8020 and left big ruts to navigate through.
The sun was bathing the hillside in a geometric pattern.