On track in the Methow Valley

In Washington's North Cascades, cross-country skiers have the run of the hills

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ACTIVITIES

Dogsledding. Mush with the Malamute Express: $350 for a three-hour dogsled tour for two people. 997-6402.

Heli-skiing. North Cascade Heli-Skiing charges $625 for a one-day package that includes five runs or at least 10,000 vertical feet. (800) 494-4354 or www.heli-ski.com.

Hot-air balloon tours. Morning Glory Balloons charges $165 per person ($110 for children ages 6-12) for flights lasting about one hour plus a champagne picnic. 997-1700.

Nordic skiing. For trail information, contact MVSTA (996-3287 or www.mvsta.com). Trail passes cost $14 for one day, $35 for three days. Passes, ski rentals, and lessons are available at Freestone Inn (see "Lodging"), Sun Mountain Lodge (see "Lodging"), and Winthrop Mountain Sports (257 Riverside Ave., Winthrop; 996-2886).

DINING

Cinnamon Twisp Bakery. A great place to pick up treats for the trail. 116 N. Glover St., Twisp; 997-5030.
Freestone Inn Restaurant. Eclectic gourmet fare in a lodge setting, complete with exposed log beams and a huge stone fireplace. 17798 State 20, Mazama; 996-3906 or (800) 639-3809.
Mazama Store. Fresh baked goods, sandwiches, salads, and espresso. 50 Lost River Rd., Mazama; 996-2855.
Methow Valley Brewing Co. A brew pub with a contemporary feel. Closed Mon-Tue. 209 E. Second Ave., Twisp; 997-6822.
Sun Mountain Lodge Dining Room. Breathtaking views of the valley, regionally inspired cuisine, and an impressive wine list. 604 Patterson Lake Rd., Winthrop; 996-4707.
Winthrop Brewing Company. The perfect spot for an après-ski burger and brew. Closed Sun. 155 Riverside, Winthrop; 996-3183.

LODGING

Up and down the Methow Valley there are lodges, cabins, and motels, many located right along the trails. Make reservations through Methow Valley Central Reservations (800/422-3048).
Freestone Inn. This modern mountain lodge has an intimate feel, with just 21 rooms and 15 cabins. Guest rooms in the lodge overlook Freestone Lake and are perfect for romantic getaways. Cabins are tucked amid the trees along Early Winters Creek. From $120. 17798 State 20, Mazama; (800) 639-3809 or www.freestoneinn.com.
Rendezvous Huts. Five simply furnished backcountry ski huts where you can rent a bed or the whole cabin. You provide the food, but for an additional fee you can have it hauled in for you. Beds from $25, huts from $150. (800) 257-2452 or www.methow.com/huts.
Sun Mountain Lodge. This mountain resort is the valley's premier accommodation, with a spectacular hilltop setting. Facilities include 112 rooms and cabins, along with spa services and two outdoor hot tubs. Guests also have access to sleigh rides, a skating rink, and a sledding hill. The Mt. Robinson wing has the newest rooms. From $120. (800) 572-0493 or www.sunmountainlodge.com.

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