North Central Washington

1999 WNPS Spring Study Weekend

Sponsored by the Okanogan Chapter WNPS
Friday - Sunday, June 4 - 6, 1999

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This page shows some botanically interesting field trips in the Methow Valley area, many of which were visited during the 1999 Study Weekend.

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Map of the hikes as originally planned.

Location and setting: The 1999 WNPS study weekend was held in Winthrop in the Methow Valley of Okanogan County in North-central Washington. The Methow is a narrow glacial valley tucked against the east slopes of the North Cascades. The weekend focused on unique features of the area's flora and ecosystems, which range from ponderosa pine - sagebrush-steppe to subalpine and alpine parklands. Floral specialties in the Okanogan include Tweedy's lewisia (Cistanthe tweedyi = Lewisia tweedyi), bitterroot (Lewisia rediviva), woodnymphs (Pyrola uniflora), fairy slippers (Calypso bulbosa), mountain lady's slipper (Cypripedium montanum), dwarf mint (Monardella odoratissima), mountain hollyhock (Iliamna rivularis), and Lyall's larch (Larix lyallii), in addition to spring displays of arrowleaf balsamroot (Balsamorhiza sagittata) and friends.

The Methow Valley is also famous for fossil-bearing sedimentary rocks, which have preserved a record of changing life and moving continents. Surrounding these sedimentary rocks are spectacular exposures of granitic stocks to the west and glaciated metamorphics to the east. The area has good examples of glacial landforms.

Agenda: The 1999 WNPS Study Weekend presentations was held at the Barn in downtown Winthrop. The event began with a musical multimedia event presented by fire ecologist and educator Bill Moody on Friday evening. Saturday featured Pam Camp, Botanist from the BLM, who gave a talk on Native American Use of Native Plants in the Upper Columbia Basin, followed by local botanist Dana Visalli, who gave a talk on the Natural History of the Okanogan. Michael Pilarski of Friends of the Trees presented a workshop on Sustainable Wildcrafting and the United Plant Savers.

Aspen Lake / Storybook: Aspen Lake lies in the Storybook area between the Methow and Twisp Rivers, and involves easy walking through aspen and sagebrush past abandoned homesteads on game reserve lands.

Buttermilk Butte, Scaffold Ridge: These dry ridges are easily accessible spurs of the Chelan-Sawtooth Range, offering views of fire mosaics and unusual plant assemblages, e.g., whitebark pine / mountain sagebrush. The former is a car-hike; Scaffold Ridge is an uphill hike of a couple miles on a good trail.

Canyon Creek Ridge (east): Canyon Creek Ridge (east) is a hot, dry, south facing ridge near Twisp. It offers early summer wildflowers, including penstemons, stonecrops, and goldencrown (Luina nardosmia). The trail's faint trace involves moderate difficulty, and after about 2 miles reaches a ghost forest of burned whitebark pine snags.

Cedar Creek: Cedar Creek near Mazama is a 3- mile round trip hike along a level trail to the 100-foot tall Cedar Falls, just before reaching old growth Scouler's willow and mountain meadows. Easy.

Cooper Mountain raptor migration flyway: Cooper Mountain in the southern Methow Valley has now become recognized as an important raptor flyway. Drive to within 0.5 mile of the vantage point atop a rocky subalpine crag, surrounded with scattered patches of whitebark pine and lodgpole, and nearby alpine summits. Cancelled due to late season snows.

Driveway Butte: A short drive west of Mazama, this hike will examine the interface between the last sagebrush steppe as it gives way to montane forest above and west-side old growth below along Early Winters Creek. Steep.

Falls Creek bog: Situated in a saddle between Falls and Eightmile Creek, Falls Creek bog is unique in its geology and unusual peat, and it supports several species of sensitive plants, including Carex chordorrhiza. Cancelled due to late season snows.

Foggy Dew: Foggy Dew is a tributary of the Methow arising on the Chelan-Sawtooth Range. Beginning in old growth grand fir, follow the trail into old growth ponderosa pine.

Goat Peak: Goat Peak above Mazama offers spectacular Methow views after a steep, moderately difficult 2.5-mile hike through Lyall's larch (Larix lyallii). The trailhead begins in volcanic rocks with plant communities of Luina and Eriogonum spp. Moderate.

Goat Wall: The Goat Wall is a keystone of the Methow Valley. The nearly vertical walls give great views and access unusual hanging gardens of juniper (Juniperus scopulorum). Difficult.

Hart's Pass: Hart's Pass at the headwaters of the Methow, Pasayten, and Canyon Creek drainages, can be driven to, and is well-known for its lush meadows with fantastic floral abundance. Easy. If inaccessible, an alternate 1-mile, steep, uphill hike is planned to Last Chance Point, passing though meadows and finally alpine krumholz and Lyall's larch (Larix lyallii). Cancelled due to late season snows.

Lake Creek Trail: Lake Creek Trail on the Chewuch River features bouldery, forested streams, and Lewisia (=Cistanthe) tweedyi along the first mile.

Lookout Mountain: Lookout Mountain above Twisp is a steep 1-mile hike to a historic lookout, with wide views and many drought tolerant plants, e.g., Haplopappus, Eriogonum, Erigeron and Penstemon. Moderate.

McLeod Mountain: This 8000-foot alpine summit is all-day affair via subalpine wetlands on an old stock driveway finally reaching a stark fellfield ridge along the Pasayten Wilderness. Strenuous. Cancelled due to late season snows.

Methow Game Range: The ponderosa pine / bunchgrass covered hills behind Winthrop have a research site to study Dalmatian toadflax. Easy.

Methow River Trail: The new Methow River Trail on private lands is truly the tropical Methow, with lush wetlands, deciduous trees, liliaceous species, and hardhack (Spiraea douglasii) jungles. Keep your eye peeled for Aralia spinosa. Easy.

Pipestone Canyon: Pipestone Canyon is an easy meander near Winthrop down a deep glacial meltwater coulee, with spectacular views of plant fossil-bearing cliffs above. The vegetation varies from sagebrush - steppe to low elevation Douglas fir. Easy.

Rennie Peak: This is an arduous all-day hike on a National Forest trail to the crest of the Chelan-Sawtooth Range, overlooking the Methow and Chelan drainages, with nearby populations of the new species Erigeron salishii. Strenuous. Cancelled due to late season snows.

Sun Mt. Beaver Ponds / Patterson Lake Trail: Sun Mountain area has easy walking on well-visited trails through forest, dry sagebrush, and swampy wetlands near Winthrop. Highlights are bitterroot (Lewisia rediviva) and coralroot orchids (Corallorhiza spp.). Easy.

Thunder Fire / Chewuch RNA: The Chewuch Research Natural Area presents geomorphic features along the Chewuch River. Thunder Fire is reached via a two-mile hike on a fireline east of the river, in subalpine meadows of aspen and sagebrush. If inaccessible, an alternative hike is planned up the level Chewuch River Trail to Chewuch Falls, 3 miles in. Due to late season snows, a hike up Windy Creek from Thirtymile Creek was substituted for these hikes.

Tiffany Botanical Area / Roger Lk: Tiffany Botanical Area is unique, and has many rare boreal species and a couple gems of lakes. Still snowy in June, a 3-mile round-trip summit hike passes Lyall's larch and whitebark pine in grassy meadows. Roger Lake is a sphagnum bog below Tiffany. Moderate. Cancelled due to late season snows.

Wolf Creek: Wolf Creek cuts through sandstones and shales from its source on Gardner Mountain. Interesting plants found here include Hesperochiron pumilus, and steer's head (Dicentra uniflora).