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Winthrop Area

Methow Wildlife Area north and east, Pearrygin Lake State Park, Winthrop cemetery, park by the Winthrop Barn, Patterson Mountain, Patterson Lake, Sun Mountain Beaver Pond

This route accesses an area of diverse habitat centered on the western-themed town of Winthrop in the Methow Valley. The route offers an opportunity to observe a large number of bird species, particularly in Spring and early Summer. For those with limited time, Patterson Mountain, Patterson Lake, and the nearby Sun Mountain Beaver Pond, provide a nearly complete spectrum of the diverse habitats along this route. Pearrygin Lake State Park also provides access to a similarly wide range of habitats.

Access and Logistics

From the South: The Methow Valley is accessed from U.S. 97 along the Columbia and Okanogan rivers. From U.S. 97 at Pateros on the Columbia River, travel northwesterly on State Route (SR) 153 for 31 miles to the junction with SR 20. Continue straight ahead on SR 20 through the town of Twisp and on to the town of Winthrop. From U.S. 97 just south of Omak-Okanogan in the Okanogan River valley, travel westerly on SR 20 for 29 miles over Loup Loup Pass and into the Methow Valley to the intersection with SR 153. Turn right, keeping on SR 20, and travel 11 miles passing through Twisp and on to Winthrop.

From the North: Note: access from the north across the North Cascades is closed during the winter season (typically late November to April/early May). From Interstate-5 in Puget Sound, either take Exit 208 and travel 50 miles east and north on SR 530 to Rockport or take Exit 230 and travel 38 miles east on SR 20 to Rockport. From Rockport, take SR 20 a scenic 95 miles through the North Cascades and over Rainy and Washington passes to Winthrop.

Patterson Lake, Patterson Mountain, and Beaver Pond. From downtown Winthrop, travel toward Twisp (southeast), cross the Methow River at the east end of town and immediately turn onto Twin Lakes Road (White Avenue). After about 3 miles, turn right onto Patterson Lake Road and travel about 3 miles where Patterson Lake will be on your left. A pull-out on the lake side of the road about two-thirds of the way along the lake is the trailhead for the path leading from the east side of the road to the top of Patterson Mountain and its extensive regional views. Continuing along Patterson Lake Road drive beyond the end of Patterson Lake about ½ mile to the junction with Thompson Ridge Road, turn left onto Thompson Ridge Road and in about 200 feet turn left into the Chickadee trailhead parking. Park and walk back toward the Patterson Lake Road crossing the road to reach the trail extending around Beaver Pond, an excellent birding walk, especially during spring migration.

Pearrygin Lake and Bear Creek Road. From the main intersection in downtown Winthrop, take Bridge Street, which leads steeply up a short hill. Continue on Bridge Street to a T-junction with Bluff Street. Take a right on Bluff and continue on that road out of Winthrop as it becomes the East Chewuch Road. About 1½ miles from the turn onto Bluff Street, turn right onto Bear Creek Road. Bear Creek Road provides access to Pearrygin Lake State Park as well as a variety of habitat within the Methow Game Range. This road, about 7 miles in length, extends onto the rolling hillsides east and southeast of Pearrygin Lake and passes several ponds, riparian corridors, ponderosa pine forest, and extensive shrub-steppe flats, reaching the Winthrop-Twisp Road, which can be taken back to Winthrop. The state park has extensive landscaped areas and trails that access a variety of habitats. When the park is open and busy, waterbirds may be most easily found at the south and west fringes of the lake.

Town of Winthrop. In addition to the two driving routes described above, several good birding locations are located within the town of Winthrop (see map):
  • Winthrop cemetery – at the SE end of Wister Way on the hillside E of downtown
  • Winthrop sewage ponds – accessed from Main Street about ½ mile SE of the intersection with SR 20 at the east end of the bridge over the Methow River
  • Winthrop Barn and adjacent park area – accessed from SR 20 at the west end of town
Logistics: Winthrop is a western “theme” tourist town with all services and much lodging. Cell service is available in Winthrop, but can be spotty away from town. Twisp, southeast of Winthrop and reached by travelling SR 20 for 9 miles, also provides all services.

Several locations along this route, including the Methow Wildlife Area and Pearrygin Lake State Park, are located on state land and require a Washington State Discover Pass, which can be purchased from several retailers in Winthrop and Twisp.

Major Habitats along Route
  • Open water / wetlands (Pearrygin and Patterson lakes, Sun Mountain Beaver Pond, numerous small ponds in Methow Wildlife Area, Methow River along Community Trail)
  • Riparian deciduous (Community Trail, Big Valley, Sun Mountain Beaver Pond)
  • Ponderosa pine woodland (most locations)
  • Shrub-steppe (most locations)
  • Landscaped mixed native - nonnative (Pearrygin Lake State Park, Winthrop cemetery, park by the Winthrop Barn)

Birds and Seasons to Visit

Seasons: Year-around; Spring and early Summer best

Birds: Waterfowl, raptors, grouse/quail, woodpeckers, hummingbirds, passerines

Side Trips

Wolf Creek Road. To access Wolf Creek Road, from the intersection of SR 20 at the bridge over the Methow River, drive on Twin Lakes Road about 1⅓ miles and turn right onto Wolf Creek Road. Passing through shrub-steppe, agricultural fields, ponderosa pine forest, and riparian areas with occasional views of the Methow River, the road extends upvalley for about 9 miles and rejoins SR 20. Take a right hand turn on SR 20 and return to Winthrop.


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