Patterson Mountain — Bitterroot and Balsamroot and a bevy of other blossoms  


Arrowleaf balsamroot growing on Patterson Mountain.

Quick Facts:

Location: Methow Valley

Land Agency: WA Department of Natural Resources

Roundtrip: 3.7 miles

Elevation Gain: 1,100 feet

Contact: WA Department of Natural Resources

Green Trails Map: Sun Mountain, WA- No.83S

Notes: Discover Pass Required

Access:  From Winthrop head east on SR 20 for .6 mile immediately turning right onto Twin lakes Road. Follow for 3.0 miles turning right onto Patterson Lake Road. Continue for 4.0 miles to Patterson Lake boat ramp. Park on south side of road in small pull-off. Trail begins on opposite side of road. Additional parking available .6 mile farther north at alternative trailhead.

Good to Know: Kid-friendly, dog-friendly, exceptional spring wildflowers

Patterned with lupine and larkspur, bitterroot, buckwheat and balsamroot, Patterson is packed with showy blossoms come April. Wedged between the Methow River and Winthrop’s famous Sun Mountain Lodge, this 3,500-foot mountain melts out early offering excellent springtime wanderings. And while the floral show is the main draw to this hike—don’t discount the views. From the sparkling waters of Patterson Lake to the glistening glaciers of the Sawtooth Ridge, Patterson provides some panoramic pleasures, too!

The hike begins directly across from Paterson Lake’s boat launch.  Immediately begin climbing sun-baked slopes. The trail is in excellent shape—part of an extensive system developed and maintained by the Methow Valley Sports Trail Association. After .3 mile reach a four-way junction. The trail left leads .7 mile to an alternative trailhead near Patterson Lake’s dam. Take the path right. You’ll be returning on the path straight ahead. Steadily ascending, traverse grassy slopes punctuated with groves of aspen. Admire Patterson Lake shimmering below. After passing a lone ponderosa pine come to a junction. The loop continues straight. But, first a mandatory side trip to Patterson’s 3,500-foot summit is in order.

Follow the spur right for a half mile to the broad and wide open summit. Views! Savor them—from the snowy and serrated Sawtooths to the golden foothills embracing Winthrop. And don’t forget to occasionally look at the ground to marvel in the boundless blossoms surrounding your boots!

 For more detailed information on this hike and many others in the Methow Valley, pre-order your copy of Day Hiking North Cascades 2nd edition (Mountaineers Books).

The long awaited updated and expanded version to the best-selling first edition is due for release July 1st. It contains 136 hikes including many trails less-traveled and lots of new hikes along the Mountain Loop Highway, Mount Baker Area, and the Methow Valley. Get your copy today and thanks for supporting my writing so I can continue to bring you detailed and trusted hiking information.

 For trusted information on family friendly places to stay and things to do around Okanogan County, consult Northwest TripFinder.NWTFmasthead_layers15

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