The long, gentle climb up the Chewuch River valley outside of Winthrop, WA, is an enjoyable way to get away from the heat of this central Washington tourist town and reconnect with the mountains of the region. The route follows Forest Service Road #51 into the hills and is largely forested, with frequent stream crossings to dip your toes and cool down.
- Distance: 46.8 miles out-and-back
- Elevation: 1670ft of elevation gain
- Time: Allow 3 to 4 hours
- Parking: There is convenient parking at the “Barn” off Hiway 20 to the West of downtown Winthrop. Free parking, bathrooms, water, shade, and wifi. It’s also next to the Winthrop public library.
- Road Quality: Generally fair. Watch for potholes and cattle guards.
- Traffic: Narrow shoulder, low traffic. Beware of passing campers and RVs.
- Services: There are no services along this route, save for outhousess at the campgrounds. Bring ample water and food.
- Camping: The route ends at the unofficial “Andrews Creek Campground” near the Andrews Creek Trailhead. Additionally, as you climb along the Chewuch River, the route passes the officially sanctioned Falls Creek and Chewuch campgrounds. Always check with the USFS for information about accessibility and fire restrictions. A valid Northwest Forest Pass may be required to camp in Forest Service land.
Park your car at the “Barn” off Hiway 20 to the West of downtown Winthrop and immediately being climbing up West Chewack road past the Ranger Station. If you plan to camp, check in with the Ranger station and be sure you have a valid Northwest Forest Pass.
After 6.8 miles, West Chewack Road meets East Chewack road. Note this location because on your return you can take East Chewack road back into town to mix things up.
Follow the main route of Forest Service Road #51 toward the North as it gently climbs into the forested hills. The temperature should drop as you gain elevation and shade! Road quality deteriorates the deeper into the hills you climb – watch for potholes and cattle guards. After 23.4 miles, the pavement ends at Andrews Creek. You can camp here (no services), or return home for a long day and a rewarding meal in Winthrop.
As you return downhill, you will slowly lose 1,670 feet of elevation. Take East Chewack Road back into Winthrop. I highly recommend stopping at the Old Schoolhouse Brewery and Restaurant in Winthrop after your ride for a great meal and a pint. Ask to sit outside by the river!