A walk in nature | Health | Spokane | Interior of the Pacific Northwest
As the spring rains turn into warm days, wildflowers begin to bloom throughout the Interior Northwest, and where there are wildflowers, you’ll often find birds, butterflies, and abundant wildlife. One of the best ways to get out and experience all this beauty is to lace up your hiking boots and hit one of the many beautiful regional trails.
But, lack of planning and the right gear can turn an anticipated adventure into a daunting task. So read on to find out where to go, how to find other hikers, and what gear you’ll need to bring to fully enjoy your hike.
Take out the card
The first decision is where to go. Luckily, there are several new hikes as well as new connections to popular hiking systems that have been completed over the last year or so, and outdoor advocates are eager to see people take to these trails.
The Trentwood Trailhead, for example, was completed in late 2021 and provides an addition to the Antoine Peak Conservation Area by granting access to where Wellesley Avenue meets Flora Road in the Spokane Valley.
“We worked on the trails behind the scenes before the trailhead was even completed, so there’s a whole system that’s tied together,” says Holly Weiler, Eastern Washington Regional Coordinator for the Washington Trails Association.
Although this system can get muddy on rainy days, it should be quite dry by late spring due to its low elevation and location, Weiler says. It is accessible all year round.
“By April, there should be tons of flowers in bloom,” Weiler says.
Another place Weiler loves in the spring is the Sherman Creek Nature Preserve in the Kettle Range. Plan a full day trip if you’re departing from Spokane, as it takes about two hours to get from downtown to the trailhead.
“You can actually walk down to shore along Lake Roosevelt in a few areas, so it’s almost a beach hike in some areas,” Weiler says. “This is a very pretty spring hike.”
The Washington Trails Association website at wta.org is a treasure trove of specific information on these and other hikes. Not only will you find maps and driving directions, but you can also find recent photos or travel reports from other hikers.
The Dishman Hills Conservancy has also been hard at work on its brand new Wilson Nature Trail to provide access to the Wilson Conservation Area. The land trust purchased this land in 2019, and it is located near the Stevens Creek trailhead, south of the Rocks of Sharon.
In addition, many other trail projects are underway.
“It’s fantastic right now — there’s a lot of exciting new things happening with county parks,” Weiler said. “When we come later in the season, we will have new things with Mount Spokane State Park, and much later we will have projects with Colville National Forest.”
walk with me
Sometimes finding other people willing to hike is more difficult than the hike itself. One way to find people with similar interests is to lend a hand in trail building with the Washington Trails Association. Sign up at wta.org/volunteer.
“I put a tool in people’s hands first and take people hiking,” Weiler says of volunteer trips. “It’s very rewarding to know that what you do people will enjoy for years to come.”
Not ready for so much effort?
Local conservation groups such as the Dishman Hills Conservancy often host educational hikes throughout the area. The Spokane Mountaineers, a membership organization with annual dues, also organizes a wide variety of group activities, including hiking, biking, camping trips, boating, rock climbing, skiing and more. .
Additionally, there are several hiking Meetup groups in the area, including Inland Northwest Hikers, where you can sign up to join a group of like-minded people outdoors.
Remember that before you hit the trail, it’s essential that you pack your 10 essentials, including water, food, and layers of clothing, even if you think you’ll only be out for a short hiking.
One of the best tips outdoor store owner Mark Schneider gives people is to “buy once, cry once.” By that, he means it’s worth investing in high-quality branded gear that may be more expensive upfront, rather than falling for a cheap counterfeit. When you go for the cheaper brands, you risk spending even more money because your equipment wears out faster and doesn’t perform as well.
“A lot of times [cheap brands] skimping on the quality of materials and workmanship in order to undermine retailers who have led the way, which can lead to equipment and garments that wear out faster or fail in the field,” says Schneider.
Anecdotally, he’s heard of supposedly “waterproof” shoes that left hikers with soaking wet feet, and in other cases the soles of cheaper boots even fell off in the wild.
At his store, Rambleraven Gear Trader, you can find this high quality brand new gear, and if you’re lucky enough to find your size, you might even cry a little less at the cost of hiking boots or other outdoor gear. used, as they only sell top quality brands.
Along with the 10 essentials, Schneider recommends researching the trail or area you’ll be spending time in so you know what to prepare for, whether it’s potential wildlife encounters or different terrain. .
Wearing absorbent clothing is highly recommended over cotton, which can leave you damp and cold if you sweat while walking, hiking or climbing, then inevitably chill. Absorbent layers, which are often made from synthetic materials, help wick that moisture away from your body and keep you at a safer temperature.
Even if it looks like a nice sunny day is coming, it’s important to bring layers and other necessities in case the unexpected happens, he says.
“It’s very important to make sure you pack your backpack for the worst potential situation,” says Schneider. “It’s very easy to be misled by weather with blue skies only to get up on top of a mountain or uphill and a freak hailstorm or gust of wind will come, and now you find yourself in a hypothermic situation in the middle of summer.”
Or, let’s say you get injured and it takes you many more hours than expected to get back to the trailhead. Even in the warmer months, temperatures can vary widely, dropping 40 or 50 degrees by nightfall, and also putting you at risk of hypothermia, says Schneider.
It is also important to know the condition of the trails. In the spring and early summer, some trails can be muddy after heavy rains, in which case Schneider says it’s best to turn around rather than venture off the beaten path and widen the trails unnecessarily. trails that work crews will struggle to fix later.
It’s also a good idea to do some research to be aware of the wildlife and vegetation in the area you’re heading to, he says. This will help you know if you should pack bear spray or keep an eye out for rattlesnakes.
Checking your scalp and body for ticks when you get home is also a good idea, although cases of Lyme disease caused by ticks are relatively rare in Washington (an estimated zero to seven cases are contracted in state each year). The Washington State Department of Health reports that the ticks that cause the disease are found primarily in western Washington, and other experts say these ticks do not live in Idaho. One way to avoid ticks and other insect bites is to wear long, light layers to keep most of your skin covered throughout your time outdoors.
For the latest advice on trail wildlife sightings, closures, upcoming projects and more, you can check the social media pages of outdoor organizations such as Washington Trails Association, Inland Northwest Land Conservancy, The Lands Council and more, says Schneider.
“All of our local nonprofits have a social media presence where they discuss trail-specific issues, concerns, and developments,” he says. “They’re all great resources for what’s happening locally.”
Whenever you head out into the wilderness, bringing the 10 essentials can help you with unforeseen mishaps, and if things go wrong, they might even save your life. Items that most experts agree you should always carry with you include:
Navigation • A map and compass, GPS is useful but don’t rely on cell service to navigate
FIRST AID KIT • A small kit that includes bandages, cloth bandages in case of a rolled ankle, painkillers and ointment for bites and cuts
Fire • A lighter or matches in case you need to start a fire
Food • Bring more food/snacks than you think you will need
Water • Adults need approximately 16-32 ounces of water per hour of hiking
Light • A flashlight or headlamp in case of loss or delay
Knife/tools • Consider equipment that may need repairs if something goes wrong
Sun protection • Sunglasses, hat/headgear, sunscreen
Extra clothes/layers • Better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.
Emergency shelter • Emergency blanket, tarp or small tent