Attractions. The Echo Ridge trails (a groomed Nordic trail system) circle ridge tops and give panoramic vistas in all directions. With the lower parking lot at an elevation of 3,600 feet, Echo Ridge is often above the clouds that cover Lake Chelan and the Columbia River Valley in the winter. The trails are both expertly groomed and laid out. The pitch of the trails undulate nicely and the green (easy) skating routes, while not flat, still provide a very nice skating experience to beginners. The best quality about Echo, however, is the setting. On a nice day the views are beautiful everywhere you turn. It’s hard not to keep stopping to take pictures. This trail system lacks the mileage of the Methow, but the mileage you do find here is as good as anything you’ll find farther north. On top of that Echo is considerably closer and cheaper (1/2 the price).
Activity: Nordic Skiing, Snowshoeing
Skill Level: 1 (accommodates all skill levels)
Fitness Level: 1 (accommodates all fitness levels)
Nearest Towns: Chelan-Manson
Length: 25-plus miles of groomed trail.
Elevation: The trails lie between 3100′ and 4000′ of elevation and typically hold good snow from mid December through March.
Hours of Operation. The trails at Echo Ridge is open 24/7 as long as the snow holds out, typically until mid-March.
Map: See attached map. Note: use ‘Print Preview’ before printing to check your page setup and to properly scale this map to a full sheet of paper.
Trail System. This groomed track system offers a little more than 25 miles of maintained ski trails. Single and double track platforms as well as an extensive skating loop are groomed and maintained. The terrain is gently rolling and the trails wind through the head of several broad drainages, giving the skier a sense of solitude and wilderness on even the busiest days. The system is divided in several different loops coming together at 5 major junctions. A few miles of trails here are also maintained for snowshoers. Photocopies of the trails are available (free) at the main parking areas and the signage and large-scale maps at the major intersections are all excellent. Signage, in fact, doesn’t get much better. Even novices with little outdoor experience can ski here without worries of getting themselves (or their families) into a predicament where they become coyote bait.
Access. The Nordic trails are about 9.5 miles from the town of Chelan. Follow the Manson Highway (SR-150) 2 miles to Boyd Road and turn right. Follow Boyd Road to Boyd Loop Road to Cooper Gulch Road, following signs to the Echo Valley Ski Area and snowmobile Sno-Park. The county road ends at the Echo Valley downhill ski area. From this point, a Forest Service road winds steeply uphill to Echo Ridge. There is a lower parking lot for the Zoom Trailhead about 1 mile from Echo Valley which can hold 6 or 7 vehicles. If you continue steeply uphill for another mile, you’ll reach the main parking areas — there’s a lower and an upper lot, both capable of holding about 50 vehicles. Between the Zoom Trailhead and the Lower Lot, there’s also a trailhead and small parking area named, The Shoe, giving access to snowshoeing trails.
Management. The Echo Ridge Nordic Area was established in 1991 by the US Forest Service. The area is operated under a cooperative agreement with the Lake Chelan Nordic Ski Club. The Club maintains the trail grooming operation through the efforts of one employee and many volunteers.
Cost. Echo Ridge is a Forest Service facility operated by the Chelan Ranger District and the Lake Chelan Nordic Ski Club and may offer the best Nordic skiing bargain in the state. Season Passes cost $70 and are available at the USFS Chelan Ranger Station. Passes are also available at Uncle Tim’s Chelan Rentals & Mountain Cabins Office, near Echo Valley Ski Hill, at the bottom of the hill to Echo Ridge. Nordic Ski Club memberships are on sale there too. The daily rate for skiers 18 and over is $10/day at the trail head payable by cash or check (make checks out to the US Forest Service). Skiers who are 17 and under ski free.
Improvements and Changes:
These changes took place in 2005/06:
* 3.8 new kilometers of trail was built specifically for snowshoeing.
* 9.6 kilometers of ski trails were rebuilt, widened, and/or rerouted.
* 14 kilometers of the 32.5 kilometers of ski trails now meet Forest Service’s ‘easy’ x-c ski standards,
* 16.3 kilometers of trail are wide enough and groomed for skate skiing.
Pets. The Zoom and Outback trails allow you to travel with dogs. You can also walk and snowshoe on these trails. The other trails are closed to dogs and walking.
Summer. In summer mountain bikers, hikers, and trail runners all enjoy using these same roads and trails. There is no fee for using the area in summer.
Reporter: Andy Dappen 2005. Updated 2008 & 2009, 2014.
Photos. First two by Marc Dilley. Last picture by Lief Carlsen.
More Snowshoeing: Maps and details of over 80 regional trips in our on-line guidebook.
Leave It Better Than You found It: This should be every outdoor user’s goal. Pick up trash others have left behind, pull noxious weeds along your route, disperse fire rings found at campsites (they encourage more fires), throw logs and branches over spur trails and spurs between switchbacks (make it harder to do the wrong thing than the right thing).
IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER: Treat this information as recommendations, not gospel. Things change and those contributing these reports are volunteers–they may make mistakes, fail to give complete information, or may not know all the issues affecting a route. So forget about finger pointing: If things go wrong, you are completely responsible for yourself and your actions. If you can’t live with that, you are prohibited from using our information.
This post was originally published on 12/18/14.