If I had grandchildren this might be where I'd introduce them to magic of the snowy peaks of Eastern Washington. This gently graded trail winds through the woods for a short while before turning uphill and summitting a real peak with stupendous views of the surrounding peaks. With good navigation skills an off-trail descent can take you back to your car. The trail can also be connected to several other trails in the Sun Mountain System for a longer outing.
The Sun Mountain Lodge ski and snowshoe trail system is part of the large Methow Valley groomed winter recreation system. Sun Mountain is aptly named as it frequently sits just above a lower layer of clouds which can keep the valley gloomy and cold.
The Chickadee Trailhead is a central spot in a warren of cross-country skiing trails as well as several snowshoe trails. Please be respectful and use appropriate gear on appropriate trails. Bare boots are not allowed on snowshoe trails. Be sure to have a map of the area or take a photo of for reference as you travel. There are several options and loops.
Herringbone Hill may first have been coined by Don Portman in the late 70s while working with the Sun Mountain lodge. Their development of ski touring in the Methow Valley produced a map naming this proud little hill. The southward trending ridge line would still provide an excellent slope, free from any avalanche concerns, to learn telemark skiing.
To find your trail from the Chickadee parking lot, walk towards the far back corner (southeast corner) of the lot. You will pass behind and slightly below the large ski warming hut. The "OWL TRAIL" is what you are looking for. Take this maintained trail through the woods to where it intersects a groomed ski trail. Staying to the edge, walk about 30 feet to the left to a 'T' intersection. Two essentially unsigned trails head off into the woods on the opposite side of the T. These two trails are opposite ends of the Magpie Trail Loop. Take the left hand of these two. A short distance along this trail a sign to the left announces "Patterson Lake", do not go that way. Turn right here on an unsigned trail.
This is the Magpie Trail, which contours along the base of Herringbone Hill. Tracks of snowshoe hares, Douglas squirrels, and the occasional coyote greet the inquisitive eye. Keep your eyes open for a side trail, signed "Herringbone Hill". Sometimes this trail gets stomped out and sometimes not.
The route zig-zags up the gentle hillside. In the spring, this hill will be covered in balsamroot and lupine. Summers it is sweet with the butterscotch smells of Ponderosa pine. The winter is largely black and white with a few brilliant swatches of the electric yellow Wolf's Lichen covered branches.
The summit is broad and partially treed. Views sweep north into the Pasayten Wilderness and southward to the Sawtooth Wilderness. Bring some folding chairs and your camp stove, this spot begs to enjoyed slowly and fully.