Matt Bowen bills himself as the Leavenworth chapter president of the International Troutsmen Club of Leisure. He’s lived in the Northwest all his life, the last three in Leavenworth, Washington, near the resort Stevens Pass with his girlfriend, Chelsey, and their two dogs, Theodore and Roosevelt. A talented snowboarder, climber, biker, surfer, and paddler, he works as the event coordinator for the local Icicle Brewing Company whenever he’s not multi-sporting. Known for giving fellow funhogs throughout town high fives and chest bumps, he says he has found his home and plans to spend the rest of his days there. “The most amazing thing about Leavenworth isn’t its mountains or rivers,” he says. “It’s in the people. We’re not a town. …We’re a community.”
Here are a few of his favorite things about Leavenworth and Stevens Pass:
Aspect of the region in the off-season: The best thing is that you can do everything there. With the Cascade Mountains a stone’s throw away, it’s hard to miss your paddle or bike saddle when the skiing is deep or the rock’s dry.
Place to mountain bike: If you put all the local trails in a blender and hit frappe, you would end up with a tall glass of Xanadu. It has a mellow pedal up, sick views, and a well-featured ridgeline that takes you back to your car.
Place to road ride: A unique ride here in town is through a series of back roads that are lined with both apple and pear orchards. It’s known as the Fruit Loop and can be taken all the way to Wenatchee.
Place to ride with the family: Stevens Pass Bike Park. Not only can you spend time riding bikes together on a variety of trails, you get to ride the lift together.
Place to paddle (flatwater): About a par 3 from my back porch is Lake Wenatchee, where on a calm day you can get some of the most amazing views, buttery water, and a bit of solitary. It’s a breathtaking place to paddle kayaks, canoes, or standups. If the wind is up, you’ll also see kite boarders, windsurfers, and sailboats. And did I mention the steelhead?
Place to paddle (whitewater): There are two main canyons that flow into town, Icicle Canyon and Tumwater Canyon, both offering incredible Class IV and V creeking. When it’s on, it’s on. And they’re both roadside. If surfing is in the forecast then the standard Class III stretch of the Wenatchee River with good ol’ Rodeo Hole is the place to be.
Place to paddle with the family: Don’t let the Class V and VI rapids of Tumwater Canyon scare you. It has great beaches and swimming holes and provides an awesome setting to teach kids some basics.
Place to re-fuel: For breakfast, head to Good Mood Food for coffee and a fresh baked scone, breakfast burrito, or ham and cheese croissant. For lunch, I like the jalapeno and cheddar brat with mustard and kraut at the Munchen Haus. For dinner, it’s the carnitas plate at a place called South.
Place for a beer afterwards: The Icicle Brewing Company. They provide a great atmosphere with a stellar variety of quality beers. And their contributions to the town are unrivaled. It makes you proud to drink beer.
Photos courtesy Bowen, Stevens Pass