After several years of working at ski areas, downhill skiing began to lose it’s appeal for me. I came to see it as an expensive, highly commercialized sport. However, many of my early memories of outdoor recreation involve downhill skiing and those memories remain precious. Furthermore, I love the bite of winter and the sparkle of ice and snow. I am sure that I will downhill ski again, but over the last two winters, I have fed my love of winter sport through cross country skiing.
Washington State has a significant network of non-motorized sno-parks where, for $10 a car per day, you can enjoy this classic winter sport. Click here for more information. I make use of my local son-parks. They are rarely crowded and are generally well maintained.
Another of my favorite cross-country skiing destination, especially after a fresh snowfall, is a logging road that heads up Natapoc Mountain from NNA River Road, Leavenworth Washington. The snow covers the scars of logging (scars that also reduce forest fires) and the low-elevation mountain becomes a glorious wilderness of snow-covered trees with bright views into the Plain Valley and across to the Entiat Ridge. The road branches off at several points, but as long as you follow your tracks back downhill, you won’t get lost. This route often involves breaking trail, which requires significant physical exertion. There are several significant hills. I would recommend Natapoc to a cross country skier with classic gear who is very comfortable skiing on groomed runs with hills.
Directions from Leavenworth: Follow the Highway 207 to Plain Grocery and Hardware. Continue on Highway 207 and cross the Wenatchee River bridge. Turn left on River Road. Follow River Road for just under 2 miles. You will see high voltage power lines crossing the road. Turn right and park under the lines. Take off up the road!