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Lewiston hiking author opens hike trails website

HIKING — Mary Aegerter, a hiking author from Lewiston, has opened a Hiking from HERE website featuring some of her favorite hikes in the region geared to hikers leaving from the Lewiston-Pullman areas.

She plans to change the offerings every few weeks.

Currently, she's offering information on early-season hikes at the BLM's Escure Ranch south of Sprague, WA, as well as Rapid River near Riggins, ID. 

Palisades City Park a treat for spring walkers

HIKING — On the rimrock bluff overlooking Spokane Falls Community College, spring walkers can enjoy a year-round feast of views over Spokane as well as a splash of wildflowers and blooming serviceberry that will be approaching a peak in about two weeks.

Since the Rimrock Drive was blocked off to motor vehicles, the area once plagued by garbage dumping and partying has become a haven for hikers.  Stay on the Rimrock Drive for easy walking or follow the dirt trails, some of which lead to a waterfall between the rimrock and Indian Canyon Golf Course.

Find out how to get a trails map and information on the area at the Palisades Neighborhood and Conservation Area website.

Dogs prohibited on Little Spokane River trails

HIKING — A reader who frequently hikes out of the Painted Rocks trailhead along the Little Spokane River just emailed and said he was surprised last week to see two new signs indicating that dogs are not allowed on the trails.

"This absolutely shocked me," he said. "I’m not a dog owner, but it seems that barring dogs from state recreational areas is going a bit too far. Yes, they probably do crap along the way, but so do the abundance of coyotes in the area.
On the otherhand, he added, "I’m sure that they may harass some wild animals too if given the chance. So could easily see (Riverside State Park)  not wanting dogs in nesting areas.
Then he asks: "Is this something completely new?
My response:
The rule prohibiting dogs dates back to the original designation of the Little Spokane River as a natural area. The rule was mentioned in my original late 1980s version of the guidebook, "100 Hikes in the Inland Northwest." 
I have a friend who took her Lab into the area against the rules 10 years ago and paid dearly for it:  rattlesnake bite. Dog survived.
I think the original rule had a lot to do with the now defunct heron rookery.  I love dogs, but it's reasonable for some areas to be dog-free.

Photo indicates transition, moody day on Bead Lake

HIKING — Spring is still awakening in the Inland Northwest, as indicated by this photo from Bead Lake Trail No. 127 on the Colville National Forest north of Newport, Wash.

Ice was still plugging ends of the lake on Sunday and the skies alternated from sunny and encouraging to dark setbacks to winter.

A hole in the ice indicated where a moose had broken through and drown.

Fur on the trail and remnants of a carcass covered in dirt, grass and sticks indicated the site of a deer meeting its match with a cougar.

Hikers still finding snow on trails above 3,000 feet elevation

HIKING — Keep your gaiters on, hikers, if you're antsy to get on timbered trails above 3,000 feet in elevation, especially if they're on shaded north slopes.

The Inland Northwest Hikers Meetup group found snow on about 30 percent of the 5-plus miles of Bead Lake trail they explored Sunday.  In between were long stretches of trail that was clear and smooth cruising in this portion of the Colville National Forest northeast of Newport.

Ice still plugged the ends of the lake and the trailheads were snowed in. 

But all the hikers, including the one that slipped on a snow-covered bridge and took a soaking in the snow-melt creek, said they had a marvelous time getting out for the early season.

Hikers should expect to find water on trails

HIKING — It's wet out there.

Hikers in Deep Creek Canyon off the Spokane River near Nine Mile found plenty of water going down the stream, which usually dries up well before summer.

You don't have to go much higher in elevation to find trails covered in snow. Hikers at Bead Lake Trail just north of Newport found about a quarter to a third of the 5.5-mile route covered in snow or ice on Sunday.  The elevations ranged from 2,800-3,000 feet.

Upper Palouse Falls worth a hike

HIKING — This is prime time to visit Palouse Falls State Park, where the water is rushing and the landscape is starting to get green.  But don't be content to view the falls just from the parking lot overlook.

Steve and Karen Heaps of Spokane had the right idea this weekend to hike to the cascade-like  upper falls above the main 185-foot tall falls.  Just head upstream from the parking area, down to the railroad tracks for a short way and cut down on the trail to the upper falls.

Note:  The railroad is active.