Fall prime time for hiking trails
Fall is a stunning time to walk through the region’s wildlands, from the scablands to the national forests.
Following are six walks, especially appropriate for autumn, all of which are detailed in my latest guidebook, “Day Hiking Eastern Washington,” co-authored with Craig Romano:
West of Ione – The trail to the summit of Eastern Washington’s second-highest peak leads to sweeping views of fall colors, especially the larch that are in the prime of their “goldness” in the Pend Oreille River Valley around the third week of October.
Note: Road improvements are planned on the Abercrombie access roads this fall. Contact the Colville National forest Three Rivers District for updates on restrictions when the government shutdown is resolved.
Diamond Peak, Sheephead Corral
South of Pomeroy – Hike across the rooftop of the Blue Mountains through golden stands of larches while enjoying horizon spanning views.
Elk are common – cougars, bears and coyotes, too.
Note: Modern rifle elk hunting season opens Oct. 26.
East of Metaline – The rigorous hike to the former site of a forest fire lookout overlooking Sullivan Lake and the Salmo-Priest Wilderness passes a variety of fall color scenery with a brilliant red bonus.
Near the trailhead, visit the bridge over Harvey Creek next to Sullivan Lake to see thousands of spawning kokanee for their run that peaks in early November.
Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge
South of Cheney – An easy stroll along the refuge’s Pine Lakes rewards hikers with colorful fall scenery worth the trip in itself. But bring binoculars to appreciate the even more vivid wild art of migrating waterfowl.
The hike leads past waters frequented by trumpeter swans that produced two hatches of cygnets this year that fledged this fall.
Note: The refuge has been closed during the federal government shutdown.
West of Kettle Falls – From this Kettle River Range summit guarding Sherman Pass, scan across a rolling landscape streaked in gold thanks to stands of larches, cottonwoods and aspens.
Check out a 1914-built forest lookout cabin.
Big Tree Botanical Area
West of Republic – Wander beneath a canopy of deep green and bright yellow held in place by giant old-growth pillars of western larch and ponderosa pine.
Chances are always good of spotting a moose in this old-growth cathedral near Lost Lake in the Okanogan Highlands.