Winthrop Washington is a favorite outpost along the Cascade Loop drive, known for its stunning scenery and charming towns: Twisp, Mazama, and the western, recreational heartland of Winthrop.
From Winthrop, the Methow River diverges into two distinct and lovely sub-basins, each worthy of a day of driving and exploration by car or motorcycle. Both options offer plenty of public access for picnics or cat-naps by the river.
The East Chewuch Road follows the Chewuch River through farmland into an ever narrowing, granite-sided valley. The paved road extends a full 30 miles to its end at the Wilderness access point and memorial of the 30-Mile Fire. On the way back to town, try the West Chewuch Road, which takes you right back to Winthrop by way of the west side of the Chewuch River.
Heading north on Hyw 20 from Winthrop will take you through the quaint town (don’t blink) of Mazama on your way up the Lost River. At the end of the pavement, one can choose to make the well-worth-it journey to Harts Pass, the highest point in the State of Washington that you can drive to. Expect to move slowly as you ascend the dirt road, and leave yourself time to hike the flat traverse of the Pacific Crest Trail and Harts Pass for a mile or two – one of the Trail’s most acclaimed sections anywhere between Mexico and Canada!
And last but not least, if you didn’t cross it coming to the Valley, be sure to drive up to Washington and Rainy Passes for Alp-like scenery, and cool temperatures on a hot day. If you feel like a short hike, try the paved, flat hike out to Rainy Lake.