The boyfriendo’s family recently moved to Winthrop. Knowing what an outdoor city Winthrop is year-round, I was thrilled for a chance to visit!
If you’ve never been, I cannot rave enough about visiting Winthrop. There’s hikes in town, close access to larch hikes and waterfalls out of town along Highway 20 and North Cascades NP. In winter, trails turn into snowshoe trails! Not to mention other seasonal activities like river rafting, cross country skiing, and fatbiking. I got the boyfriendo snowshoes for Christmas, so I was mostly excited for him to test them out.
The boyfriendo’s stepdad is super active, and was excited to show us around various trails in the area. The three of us and outdoor dog Onyx piled into a (very winter-ready) car and went just a few miles out of town to Pearrygin Lake State Park. I’m sure in summer, this park is in high demand, but in winter, the parking lots were mostly empty. Trails are ONLY for fatbikers and snowshoers. With an AWD car, I’m sure most can handle the roads to the park fine. We parked in a further lot and then set out on the Rex Derr trail. Even though it wasn’t a bluebird day, I quickly had a smile a mile wide. There was some fresh powder on the trail, but as the trails are shared with fatbikers and today was a large annual fatbike meet-up, the trails were in great shape.
It was glorious and strange to be the only snowshoers on the trail. I’m so used to western Washington hikes that more often than not are somewhere between packed and conga-line. While there were a lot of fatbikers sharing the trails, they all were really cool and thanked us whenever we pulled off trail to let them by. With it being so empty, we actually went off-trail into the super-deep powder quite a bit, pretty much my first time breaking trail–what a workout! The beginning of the trail as you approach the lake isn’t too exciting other than a few bridges to cross, so it was nice to adventure a bit before the frozen-over lake came into view.
My smile only grew with the view. After about a mile, we came to the most picturesque old barn. We ventured inside and saw tons of bird footprints! It was cool to see an old structure right along the trail.
Along we ventured, taking a south spur just to see where it went. At the south-southwestern edges of the lake there was evidence of a marsh when snow wasn’t present, and there were a bit more trees. You can continue on the Pearrygin Lake trail here to make a big loop, but with more snowshoes and fatbiking on the menu for the trip, we didn’t want to go too crazy with the miles, so we went into the marshy area to find the Group Camp Access Road (there’s a bathroom here if needed).
We stayed along Group Camp Access Road to make it a loop back to the car. This trail was a lot lower than the Rex Derr (it’s actually below it) so it offered some new perspective, including some beautiful snowy willows. This area had tons of picnic tables and bathrooms, and I can only imagine what high demand they are in on a hot summer day. It made me even more grateful to be the only snowshoers there!
To get back to the car we had one huge hill of unbroken powder to surmount. The men had heel lifts on their snowshoes, so I generously let them break trail for me. The hill was very steep compared to the gradual rolling hills we’d been on all day, so I was fairly winded when we got to a road that would lead us to the car. Luckily the road flattened out, and with dreams of beer and food in town awaiting us, we hustled for the final stretch and hit the car, round-trip mileage of about 4 miles even.
Distance: 6.5 miles of trails–choose your own adventure!
Elevation: Trails were mostly mild in terms of elevation.
Parking: Several lots of varying size. A Discover Pass is required year-round, and an additional Sno-Park pass is required after November 1st.
Bathrooms: Several bathrooms and pit toilets scattered about, seasonality might change if they are open.
Best Beer Bet: We eagerly went to Old Schoolhouse Brewing after.