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Route of the Hiawatha opens Saturday

BICYCLING — The Route of the Hiawatha rail trail near Lookout Pass will be open for the season starting Saturday, says Phil Edholm at Lookout Pass Ski Area.

That's great news for folks planning bicycling outings over the Memorial Day weekend.  Heck, people were skinning up and skiing the slopes in the area last week.

The nationally acclaimed 15-mile rail-trail uses the abandoned Milwaukee Railroad grade between the old town site of Taft, Mont., and the North Fork of the St. Joe River near Avery, Idaho. 

The unpaved route features 10 tunnels and 7 trestles as high as 230 feet within the Loop Creek canyon at the crest of the scenic Bitterroot Mountains. The grade is a gentle 1.6 percent.

Trail passes, shuttle tickets, mountain bike rentals, souvenirs and picnic lunches are available at Lookout Pass Ski Area, just off I-90 at the Idaho/Montana border 12 miles east of Historic Wallace, Idaho. 

Call (208) 744-1301 or visit www.ridethehiawatha.com for trail information. Equipment reservations are recommended. 

The Hiawatha Trail is set to be open daily through Sept. 30, from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Fat Tire riders show film to boost local trails

MOUNTAIN BIKING — The Spokane Fat Tire Trail Riders Club is showing of the new Anthills feature film Strength In Numbers as a fundraiser for local trail projects.

Check it out May 25 The film at Spokane Falls Community Colleges SUB Lounge. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.; show starts at 7:15. Tickets available online in advance,$12 (w/service fee) or $14 at the door.

Dishman Hills group invites public to ‘Dream’ on

PUBLIC LANDS — The Dishman Hills Alliance is inviting the public to celebrate their latest step toward securing conservation land or easements for a "Dream Trail" through the length of the Dishman Hills.

A dinner celebrating the recent 269-acre Glenrose-area Conservation Futures purchases will be held May 12 starting with socializing at 5 p.m. and dinner at 6:30 p.m. at Moran Prairie Grange, 6106 S. Palouse Hwy.

The Dishman Hills Natural Area Association played an important role in securing the conservation land before it could be carved up for development.  Members of the alliance will toast their success in the decade-old effort to keep a corridor open through the hills for non-motorized travel as well as for wildlife migration.              

Then they'll talk about future plan to made the Dream Trail come true.

Part of the plan involves getting more friends to join the effort

Cost for the dinner celebration is $20 for members. The group is offering a special $10 membership online.

Waging war: one weed at a time

TRAILS — I'm working late today, after taking the morning off to give a little TLC to a local hiking-biking route.

Portions of the route were overwhelmed by spotted knapweed a few years ago before I started spot-spraying the weeds as they emerge in spring. Now the route looks good, and I'm sure most users have no idea how miserable it was to walk or mountain bike the path in its infested state.

Maintenance is still required.

Today I spot-sprayed 2 gallons of herbicide on knapweed florets one little squirt at a time.  I'll have to head out two or three more times to get it all.  Then I'll pull the survivors a few here and there during morning walks with the dogs.

That's one way to win a war that must be fought.

County buys 269 acres for Glenrose conservation area

CONSERVATION — The Dream Trail through the Dishman Hills of Spokane Valley has come 269 acres closer to reality this week with the purchase of two parcels in the Glenrose area.

Two adjoining parcels were purchased with $473,500 from the Spokane County Conservation Futures Program plus $257,500 donated by the Dishman Hills Natural Area Association, said John Bottelli, County Parks assistant director.

"DHNAA exceeded their original pledge by ultimately covering more than the county's share of the Stone Estate acreage by $35,000," Bottelli said. "Their $257,500 represents 54 percent of the purchase price and is an incredible accomplishment for any non-profit!"

The Dishman Hills group scraped up the money and secured the property before other interests could lock it up privately.

Click here for the details on this great acquisition for future generations and how it fits into the big picture for maintaining wildlife movements and public access to wildlands in our ever-more-populated region.

Rivers swollen so big even bikers are affected

RIVERS — Rivers around the region filled with runoff to flood stage on Saturday.  The water got so high, even mountain bikers were impacted in Riverside State Park.

The photo was snapped Saturday by Spokane cyclist Daniel DeRuyter. He posed his bike where the rapidly rising Spokane River had inundated the trail in the Little Vietnam area on the south side of the river just downstream from the Bowl and Pitcher.

Said DeRuyter, "The alarming thing about this photo is that when I grabbed my bike to leave, the water had risen in level to touch my tires! Yikes."

Helpers needed for trail project at Liberty Lake

TRAILS – Helpers are needed for a series of Liberty Lake trail rerouting projects on the 7-mile loop trail at Liberty Lake County Park, starting next Sunday, organized by the Washington Trails Association.

Other scheduled dates for working at Liberty Lake are March 29 and 31 and April 2 and 26.

WTA pledged to rally area volunteers and contribute 2,000 hours of volunteer effort over the next two years in order to get a grant from the Washington Recreational Trails Program. 

Liberty Lake, at 3,000 acres, is one of the largest county parks in the state.  This is an excellent opportunity to get to know the park better and chip in some effort to improve the hiking/biking/horse-riding opportunities. 

Sign up online here.

Info: (206) 625-1367.

Mountaineer mudders sponsor mountain biking clinic

CYCLING — Registration for the 2012 Spokane Mountaineers Mountain Bike Skills Clinic is open.

Although the clinic at Riverside State Park isn't until June 9-10, the class is limited to 30 — and more than a dozen cyclists already have signed up.

The class — covered in this Spokesman-Review story —  is interactive, comprehensive, personalized and fun.

An online registration form on the Mountaineers's website.

Sage-country hike near Odessa picturesque, tick-free

HIKING — I made some footprints on the BLM's Pacific Lake/Lakeview Ranch near Odessa on Wednesday. The 40-degree day was perfect for hiking this dry country studded with magnificent basalt rock formations.

The area's signature end-to-end hike is featured in my guidebook, 100 Hikes in the Inland Northwest.

Downside to hiking this week: The wildflowers are not yet blooming.

Upside: The tick's aren't active.

Spokane Parks looking for outdoor trip assistants

OUTDOOR RECREATION —  The Spokane Parks & Recreation Department's Outdoors Program is looking for outdoors lovers who would make good outdoor trip assistants for the great outings featured in the Outdoor program guide.

The main benefit:  Cool group outdoor trips at no cost.   Here's the job description:

In this volunteer position, you will learn to facilitate a safe and fun outdoor adventure such as snowshoeing, cross country skiing, kayaking, canoeing, rafting, hiking, mountain biking, and bike tours.
Trip Assistants receive free training and discount outdoor merchandise!
To get started on this adventure, contact volunteer coordinator Catherine Lyle, 625-6216 or email clyle@spokanecity.org.
  • See more info on the Outdoors Program volunteer website.
  • See the Outdoor Trip Assistant description here.

Outdoor video clips compiled to get your adrenaline flowing

OUTDOOR ACTION SPORTS — Here's a cool collection of ultr- action outdoor video clips — some you may have seen in Banff Film Fest features, but plenty from other sources, too.

Get it out of your system by viewing this video.

If it leaves you wanting more, watching this collection of newer clips.

Then go out and be safe this weekend.

Street skiing video in Trail, B.C., is a classic

JP Auclair Street Segment (from All.I.Can.) from Sherpas Cinema on Vimeo.

SKIING — This street-skiing video clip from the ski film All.I.Can. is one of my favorite moments from the Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour that ran three nights at The Bing Crosby Theater in Spokane.

It required skill and a sense of humor. It makes fun of all the virgin powder films people die to make.

It features J.P. Auclair making a wild trip down through the dirty urban snow lining the steep streets in Trail, British Columbia.  It's way more imaginative than screaming off cliffs. Very cool.

Banff Mountain Film Festvial starts three-day run at the Bing

ADVENTURE FILMS — Adventure, humor, awareness and awe, plus a   good dose of pucker factor, are coming to   Spokane this weekend in a road show of top outdoor adventure films.

And if you don't already have tickets, you may be out of luck.

The cream of the crop from the 31st annual Banff Mountain Film Festival will be traveling from Alberta to The Bing Crosby Theater tonight through Sunday.

But tickets are sold out through TicketsWest.  Call the Mountain Gear Retail Store, 325-9000, to see if any tickets are left for this popular annual event.

The World Tour shows will take the audience to extremes, from ascending to one of the coldest places on earth to rappelling into the hottest place – to take a sample of molten lava from the bowels of a volcano.

The films feature all sorts of outdoor pursuits, including climbing, wildlife, pedaling and paddling.

See above for the always popular festival film clips compiled into the exciting World Tour into segment.

Then click here for details about this year's festival as well as links for clips on many of the top films.

Mount Spokane mountain biking topic of parks survey

STATE PARKS – A survey regarding mountain biking at Mount Spokane State Park has been launched by Washington State Parks. People who love the park should comment, even if they are not mountain bikers. Read on and I'll tell you why.

The public has until Dec. 16 to complete the online survey and indicate their desires for mountain biking opportunities at the 13,919-acre state park to help officials plan future trail developments.

Survey questions focus on how park visitors use the trail system now and on how the system could be improved.

After 15 years of effort from the Mount Spokane State Park Advisory Committee, a "master plan" has finally been approved. Now the details and on-the-ground stuff is being worked out.  Trails can and are being realigned for all sorts of reasons, and one of the chief reasons to consider is safety.

Unfortunately, a full mountain biking plan has yet to be completed. 

If you've hiked or ridden a horse on Mount Spokane trails you probably share my feeling that high-speed downhill mountain biking is not compatible with other recreationsts on steep trails. This survey seems to be a start at addressing that.

"We want every visitor to Mount Spokane to have a positive experience, and we know that many people have experienced conflict, frustration, and outright fear when high speed mountain bikers encounter other recreationists," said Friends spokesman Cris Currie. "The local mountain biking community and state parks in Olympia have created a survey to gather input on this matter and I would hope that each of you might take the time to answer it.

"The Advisory Committee's position so far is to create a high speed mountain biking area in the alpine ski area and then apply more restrictions to mountain biking on other trails in the park.  We've reached no conclusions yet regarding what these restrictions might look like, but we would like your opinions!" 

Fore details on Mount Spokane trails and the master plan updates, see the great Friends of Mount Spokane State Park website.

For more info on the survey, contact: Nikki Fields, state park planner (360) 902-8658, email mount.spokane.mountainbike@parks.wa.gov

Help needed for Gibraltar Trail construction

TRAILS — Mountain bikers, hikers and equestrians are gathering in November for another blitz to build an epic trail east of Republic, Wash., — and they can use more help.

"Last October, over a dozen volunteers from Conservation Northwest, Spokane Mountaineers, Washington Trails Association and the Ferry County Trails Association broke ground on the new Gibraltar trail," said Derrick Knowles of Conservation Northwest. "The trail, the product of a five-year effort between recreation groups, conservationists and the Colville National Forest, will provide new recreation opportunities close to the town of Republic."

The last two work parties of the season will be held Nov. 5-6 and Nov. 19-20.

E-mail derrick@conservationnw.org to sign up or call 509-435-1270 for more info on what to bring, where to meet, and where to camp/stay.

Read on for more details about the trail.

Mountain bikers offer trail building class in CdA

TRAILSInternational Mountain Biking Association trail crew experts are offering a Trail Building Class, Saturday, Oct. 1,  8 a.m.-4 p.m.  starting at McLain Hall, North Idaho College,  followed by a field session at Blue Creek Bay.

Experts train locals in techniques to help boost area trail systems.

Dress for a day of work in the woods and bring plenty of water and snacks.

  • Who: Anyone interested in developing mountain biking in our area
  • Cost: FREE – lunch is provided

Sponsored by North Idaho College Outdoor Pursuits, Lake City Trail Builders Association, International Mountain Biking Association, Bicycle Sales and Service, Two Wheeler Dealer, Bureau of Land Management.

Contacts: Jon Totten: jon_totten@nic.edu (208) 769-7809, Lake City Trail Builders: lctba83814@hotmail.com

Mountain biking basics clinic Thursday at REI

BICYCLING  — Learn the basics of biking etiquette, safety concerns, biking techniques and recommended equipment in a free mountain biking clinic starting at 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 15, at REI in Spokane.

Store staff also will discuss basic bike repairs and maintenance and resources for where to ride in the Inland Northwest.

This class is free, but space is limited, so be sure to pre-register.

Multi-sport race to debut at Plante’s Ferry

EVENTS — A new multi-sport race in the Spokane Valley will put three-person teams to the test of paddling on the Spokane River, mountain biking on Beacon Hill and running on the Centennial Trail.

The Plante’s Ferry Adventure Race is set for Sept. 18, sponsored by the Spokane Valley Junior Soccer Association.

PFAR is open to teams of three or individuals. Participants must be age 14 or older. Categories include Youth (14-18),

Friends, Family, Ladies and Corporate. Cost: $99 per team or $49 individual.

Register and get more online.

Tonight: Volunteers meeting for weed detail on South Hill Bluff

TRAILS — Volunteers interested in helping manage noxious weeds on Spokane’s High Drive Bluff are invited to participate in a work party this evening, (Aug 17).
"We will cut rush skeletonweed plants away from sections of the trail where they are impeding trail use," said group facilitator Diana Roberts of the WSU Spokane County Extension.

Next Wednesday (Aug. 24), volunteers will focus on controlling knapweed. 

"Be sure to bring work gloves, sturdy garden clippers and water to drink. Long pants, long sleeved shirts, and hiking boots are the recommended attire."
Meet: 6:30 p.m. at the trailhead south of Bernard St. and High Drive.

"At 8 p.m. we will adjourn to the Rocket Market for a beverage and to socialize," Roberts said.
Info: Diana Roberts (509) 477-2167 or robertsd@wsu.edu.


Mountain bikers: plan now for Tour de Rock

MOUNTAIN BIKING — Eager riders are using this summer to tone up for the Tour de Rock Mountain Bike Ride & second annual Rough Ride 4000' at Chewelah and 49 Degrees North Ski Area.

The Oct. 1 event — which benefits the Ski Patrol — includes two events:

The "Rough Ride" starts at 10 a.m. in Chewelah and runs 10.2 miles on pavement up  to the ski area. From there, riders ride the ski area trails to the summit, gaining a total of 4,000 feet of elevation on a variety of surfaces.

The citizen's mountan bike tour starts 11 a.m. at the ski resort and climbs up through the Sunrise Basin, traverses across the face of the mountain and concludes with an enjoyable downhill run back to the lodge.

Both rides conclude with a barbecue and live music.

Sign up early for $20 entry fee, $30 with a t-shirt.

Info: Call or email Doug (509) 937-4922, doug@shirewood.com.

Schweitzer’s Huckleberry Festival ripe for Sunday

OUTDOOR EVENTS — Time's ripe for Schweitzer’s 5th annual Huckleberry Festival.  With berries ready to pick at the 3,2000 foot level, the picking will gradually rise in elevation as the festivities kick off on Sunday (Aug. 7

From 8 a.m. -4 p.m. the resort above Sandpoint plans to tint tongues purple, starting with a huckleberry pancake breakfast, before shuttling visitors up to begin hiking and putting purple stains on their fingers while combing the alpine slopes for berries.

Read on for more details.

Mountain bikers head to Kettle Crest for work, play

MOUNTAIN BIKING — Riders from across the Northwest are planning to meet on the Kettle Crest Trail Aug. 10-14 to mix trail work with single-track pedaling on the Kettle Crest trail system in northeastern Washington.

"One day is reserved for trail work (under the direction of the Forest Service and experienced trail crew leaders) in order to leave the trails in better shape," said Peter Jantz, president of the Spokane-based Fat Tire Trail Riders Club.

The event is sponsored by Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance, Fat Tire Trail Riders, the US Forest Service and New Belgium Beer. For more info, visit the Fat Tire Trail Riders website.

The Kettle Crest Trail and its connectors offer incredible views and top-notch singletrack in a sub-alpine setting.

Portions of the Colville National Forest along the trail have been proposed for wilderness, which could preclude the use of bicycles.

A meeting in Spokane tonight will present information about the forest plan revision and effective ways to comment on the proposals

Trail down from Mount Spokane summit closed for re-routing

TRAILS – A trail that plummets down from the summit of Mount Spokane has been closed for re-routing and erosion control.

Steve Christensen, state park manager, said Trail 135 is especially popular with mountain bikers, but it’s poorly designed and seriously eroding.

Plans to re-route the trail will make it safer, he said, but the bulk of the work may not get underway until September.  The new version of the trail will be renumbered 140 and connect with another reconstructed trail that descends to the Mount Kit Carson Lower Loop Road trailhead.

Another priority project, Christensen said, is widening the nordic skiing trails to accommodate a larger groomer the state park may be able to purchase.

Nisbet to lead walk, wild plant discussion on South Hill bluff trails

TRAILS — Is Spokane’s High Drive Bluff festooned with native plants or plagued by weeds?
Author and naturalist Jack Nisbet along with WSU scientist Diana Roberts will lead a hike along the bluff trails on Wednesday to help trail fans understand the vegetation.

The event starts at 7 p.m. at Polly Judd Park,1732 W. 14th Ave.
Wear clothes and shoes suitable for a hike on the trails. This workshop is not designed for young children or dogs.
Info: Diana Roberts, WSU Spokane County Extension, (509) 477-2167, email robertsd@wsu.edu.

Mountain biking event to debut at Fourth of July Pass

MOUNTAIN BIKING — A fat tire event with tours for riders of all levels will debut Saturday at Fourth of July Pass trail system.

Although it's called "50 Miles at the Pass," the event's Gran Fondo format has different starting areas for rides of 10, 17, 35 and 50 miles.

Proceeds will be used by the new Lake City Trailbuilder's Association, which is working with area land managers to develop and improve trails,  said Kent Eggleston. This new association focuses on mountain bike trails but works with all user groups.

"Judging from the interest we've received, we're expecting 100 to 150 riders," said Cully Todd of Bicycle Sales and Service in Coeur d'Alene, (208) 667-8969.

Riders can find just the right amount of challenge for their style, he said, noting that the course combines the Fourth of July Pass nordic ski area on the south side of I-90 and the ATV trail system on the north side.

The 35 and 50 mile rides with be on the ATV trails, where there's some pretty good ups and downs," Todd said. "The 10 and 17 milers will be on the cross-country trails, which are tamer by comparison; more entry level."

Cost: $25-$45.

Click here for details and online registration.

Click here for course maps.


Car vandalized at South Hill bluff trail parking area

TRAILS — Never leave a purse, wallet or valuables in sight in a car seat while parked at a trailhead, whether it's along the Centennial Trail or at the edge of a wilderness.

The latest reminder occured Monday around 10 a.m. when a vehicle parked on High Drive near 37th Avenue was struck by a thief while the driver was hiking the  South Hill bluff trails. 

The thief, apparently attracted by a purse left in the vehicle's seat, broke the window in full view of a residential area and fairly busy city street, grabbed the prize and was off.

Join group maintaining South Hill bluff trails

TRAILS — With more than 23 miles of trails to maintain on the South Hill bluff trail system below High Drive, a group is organizing to do the job right.

Join them Saturday, 9 a.m.-noon, for a practical clinic on how to protect trails from erosion.

The group will work on an intersection that is eroding back to its "natural" angle of slope.

Mike Brixey will teach how to deal with these situations, which are common on the bluff trails.

Meet at the High Drive trailhead 20 yards south of Bernard. Wear work gear and bring sturdy tools!

Hikers and mountain bikers are all welcome to participate.

Info:  Diana Roberts 477-2167, Email: robertsd@wsu.edu

Trail building clinic offered by expert tonight on South Hill

SOUT HILL BLUFF TRAILS — Hikers and bikers can learn the theory and application of effective trail building and trail maintenance in a free clinic TONIGHT on the South Hill.

Mike Brixey, who's trained with the International Mountain Bike Association, will make the presentation starting at 6 p.m. at Polly Judd Park, 1732 W. 14th Ave.

The South Hill bluff trail system also will be discussed, and a volunteer trail maintenance group may be organized.

Bring a folding chair and, if you wish, a picnic dinner.

Small children and dogs are discouraged.

A follow-up practical trail building session will be scheduled next week on the bluff trails below High Drive.

Info: Diana Roberts, WSU Spokane County Extension, (509) 477-2167, email robertsd@wsu.edu.

Schweitzer opening summer season with free lift rides — and snow

MOUNTAIN RESORTSSchweitzer Mountain Resort will open its summer season on Saturday with food, outdoor games and activities, food, live music and FREE chair lift rides.

Normally, hikers and mountain bikers would take advantage of this summer-opening special in conditions you might expect in the top photo.

But this year the resort's upper slopes are still covered with snow patches and the biking trails are snow-clogged or muddy, as you can see from the photo at left, snapped Tuesday by Sean Briggs, showing the resort's outdoor climbing wall, patchy snow on the slopes and a waterfall draining the mountain.

Read on for details about the weekend — and a look at what the resort's summer season slopes will look like when summer catches up with the late spring.

Fat-tire riders organize trail building in North Idaho

CYCLING — the Pend Oreille Pedalers are working with the Bonners Ferry Ranger District's trail crew to build a new mountain bike trail at Brush Lake about 20 miles north of Bonners Ferry on Highway 95.
The new trail at Brush Lake will add a low elevation option to an area that is already rich with some of the best high elevation single-track in North Idaho, said John Monks, local organizer.
(Classics include the Sidehill Trail, the Danquist Trail, Rutledge Trail to Queen Lake.)
"Come on up for the day on Sunday and help build some trail, have a picnic, learn about a great riding area, and do some riding," Monks said.

Meet June 19 in Bonners Ferry at the northwest corner of the "Big R" (formerly K-mart) parking lot at 7:45 a.m.
The group will carpool from there. Bring gloves, water, snacks, riding gear, bicycle (of course!) and clothing appropriate for the weather.
"We'll meet up with the USFS crew at Brush Lake at 9 a.m., build trail until noonish, then have a barbecue lunch with the USFS cooking up hamburgers," Monks said.
Info: John Monks, (209) 290-2857.