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Snow slowly receding, exposing high-country trails

HIKING — Phil Hough and Deb Hunsicker celebrated the summer solstice by checking out the Grouse Mountain Trail in the Cabinet Mountains for an upcoming project by the Idaho Trails Association.  They couldn't resist to going all the way to the summit of the 5,980-foot mountain northeast of Sandpoint and east of McArthur Lake.

They had to ford a the North Fork Grouse Creek, which will be a rock hopper later in the summer.  And they had to walk on snow at higher elevations.

But the glacier-lily bloom was following the receding snowline up the mountain.

Volunteers working on Mount Spokane snowshoe hut

STATE PARKS — A hut geared primarily for snowshoers at Mount Spokane is well on its way to being completed for the next winter season.

Nora Searing, above, and Cris Currie of the Friends of Mount Spokane State Park were working on the hut Thursday, as Nora painted the stair railings.

"Afterwards I had a scenic little hike all by myself up Trail 140, while Cris continued to work," she said, making a perfect day of work and pleasure.

Says Cris, who heads the Friends group:

The volunteer project to finish the snowshoe hut at Mt. Spokane is up and running. Today, volunteers painted the first coat on 3 sides and we've made lots of progress insulating the floor. I'm planning to work on it next Thursday through Sunday, so if you would like to help, please let me know what days you are available. If it's showery weather, we'll paint inside, and if not, we'll do the 2nd exterior coat. Three to five people each day would be perfect. It's also not too early to start getting firewood if anyone is so inclined. I could also use a couple more carpenters for the more technical work like the deck railing, the ADA ramp, the wood shed, and the interior siding and window trim. We also need someone to make a table and benches out of a really nice white pine I found in the nordic area. It has been ripped into rough cut lumber and drying since last August. This place is going to be soooo nice when it's all done!!!

Forest Service updates snowmobiling travel plan

WINTERSPORTS — Snowmobiling rules send mixed messages and where the machines are allowed to roam, groups say.

USFS releases updated over-snow travel management plan
Snowmobiling groups applauded the U.S. Forest Service's proposed update of its over-snow travel management plan that keeps access decisions at the local level, but Winter Wildlands Alliance, the Idaho-based group that filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Forest Service in 2005 over its management of over-snow travel said the plan did nothing to address inconsistencies found in the previous plan.
 —Missoulian

Pull together against weeds at Iller Creek Saturday

PUBLIC LANDS — Local hikers are pulling together to reduce the noxious weed infestation at the Iller Creek unit of the Dishman Hills Conservation Area in Spokane Valley.

The Inland Northwest Hikers are recruiting volunteers for a spotted knapweed pulling party on Saturday.

“We’ll move up the east ridge trail and pull as we go to the Rocks of Sharon,” said co-organizer Bob Strong.

“Bring sturdy work gloves and a trowel if you have one. Bring lunch and at least two quarts of water — it's going to be sunny and warm.”

 Meet at 9 a.m. at Redeemer Lutheran Church to carpool to the trail head. Directions: From Sprague/Appleway in Spokane Valley, turn south on Dishman-Mica Road. Go past 32nd Avenue and turn right (at the traffic light) on Schafer Road to the church parking lot on the right.

Father sets bar high as hiking/parenting role model

HIKING — What's  your excuse for not getting your son or daughter out on the trail lately?

James Geier, a retired law enforcement officer, celebrated Fathers Day by hiking with his 18-year-old son, Jonah, in Arches National Park. Even though Jonah is not able to hike, his dad gave him a tow on trailer so he could enjoy the experience of traveling three miles into the Utah backcountry, climbing 480 feet over slickrock trails and up red rock steps to share with his dad a worldwide symbol of strength and endurance.

"Perseverance," his daughter Laura wrote of the outing. "Shared by both the Arch in withstanding time and change, and the resolve of a father to hike his disabled son to the Arch to experience the incredible symbol of natural beauty and strength."

 

Groups highlight trail projects past and future

PUBLIC LANDS – Volunteer trail projects past and future will be highlighted in a program by the Spokane Mountaineers and Washington Trails Association on Monday, June 17, at 7 p.m., at the Mountain Gear Headquarters, 6021 E. Mansfield.

“The Mountaineers have a long history of giving back to our local trails,” said Lynn Smith, the club’s trail-maintenance program coordinator. “Whether working on our own or in conjunction with other organizations, we understand that stewardship goes hand-in-hand with recreation, and volunteers are a crucial part of the process – especially in this era of shrinking budgets.”

More projects are planned this year in Eastern Washington and North Idaho, he said.

BLM gating Escure Ranch road to Towell Falls

PUBLIC LANDS — Motor vehicles will be blocked from driving the Escure Ranch road to Towell Falls on Rock Creek south of Sprague starting today,  U.S. Bureau of Land Management officials say.

The annual summer closure begins when fire danger becomes high in the range land area south of Sprague, said Steve Smith, recreation manager for BLM's  Spokane District.

While the gate will be locked, hikers and mountain bikers are still free to travel on the roads and trails, he said. 

Note: Keep dogs on leash.  The area is a fairly reliable place to see rattlesnakes.

State Parks pass can buy you a free lunch

PUBLIC LANDS — The value of a Washington state Discover Pass is going up.

The $30 annual pass, required on vehicles in state parks and many other state lands, also will be valid for a free sandwich at many SUBWAY® sandwich shops.   Most of Eastern Washington is left out of the deal, but if you're headed west of the Columbia River, take your Discover Pass and stay nourished.

The "Walk in the Park" promotion starts Saturday, June 14, (National Get Outdoors Day) and runs through Sept. 30 at all 435 SUBWAY® restaurants in 17 counties throughout Western Washington — King, Snohomish, Chelan, Clallam, Douglas, Grays Harbor, Island, Jefferson, Kitsap, Lewis, Mason, Pacific, Pierce, San Juan, Skagit, Thurston and Whatcom.

Show your Discover Pass at the shop or at a state park in participating counties to receive a voucher for a free regular six-inch sandwich with the purchase of a regular six-inch sandwich of equal or greater value and a 30-ounce drink.

Wilderness goal: get passport stamped for “Blue Mountains 7”

WILDERNESS — Maybe you've followed trails all over the Northwest, but have you visited all seven wilderness areas in the Blue Mountains that straddle the Washington-Oregon border?

The Blue Mountains National Forests (Malheur, Umatilla and Wallowa-Whitman National Forests) have introduced the Wilderness Passport Challenge to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act

The passport has a page for each of the seven wilderness areas in northeast Oregon and southeast Washington — Wenaha-Tucannon, North Fork Umatilla, North Fork John Day, Hells Canyon, Eagle Cap, Strawberry Mountain and Monument Rock.

Get the free passport and have it stamped at a Forest Service office when you venture out to visit one of the wilderness areas.This will be a collector's item with a lot of good memories and stories behind it. 

 The National Wilderness Preservation System, established by the Wilderness Act of 1964, has become one of the nation's treasures. 

The passport challenge is just one way you can join the many activities this year celebrating the Wilderness Act 50th Anniversary.

Umatilla National Forest Headquarters

Pendleton, Oregon (541) 278-3716

North Fork John Day Ranger District

Ukiah, Oregon (541) 427-3231

Pomeroy Ranger District

Pomeroy, Washington (509) 843-1891

Walla Walla Ranger District

Walla Walla, Washington (509) 522-6290

Blockages: Check ahead for forest road, trail conditions

HIKING — It's early season; snow is still plugging mountain roads and Forest Service crews are just working their way through projects left by the ravages of winter.

The basic rule: Call ahead to the national forest ranger districts or other agencies for any updates on road and trail conditions before making solid plans for a trip.

For example:

  • Two popular trails and one road are temporarily closed west of Winthrop Washington.  The West Fork Methow and Cutthroat trails were both damaged by avalanches over the winter and Harts Pass Road, a gateway to the Pasayten Wilderness, is impassable due to storm damage. Trees, logs, brush, and other debris were left behind by avalanches, blocking portions of both trails. Contact Methow Valley Ranger District at (509) 996-4000;  www.fs.usda.gov/okawen.
  • Marble Creek Road in the St. Joe Ranger District will present travelers this summer with road delays ranging from 30 minutes to an hour due to Potlatch Corporation  logging operations.  The work will begin mid-June 2014 and is expected to continue until September 2014. The line machine will be first set up at the 2 – 2 ½ mile marker of Marble Cr. Rd. 321 mid-June and then will move to the 3 ½ mile marker in mid-July. Contact David Canning or Gerri Bush at the St. Joe Ranger District (208) 245-2531.

Here's more info regarding the Methow region issues:

“There is a considerable amount of debris on each trail, so it will take some time to get them open”, said Jennifer Zbyszewski, Recreation, Wilderness and Facilities Program Manager for the Methow Valley Ranger District.  “For now though, the debris fields are dangerous to cross and we’ve temporarily closed the trails; until we can clear them.” 

Harts Pass Road is also temporarily closed.  A rainstorm last fall damaged the road where it crosses Cache Creek, approximately one mile north of Dead Horse Point.  Snowmelt in Cache Creek has caused additional damage to the road and it needs to be repaired before it is passable.

“We’re going to repair the Harts Pass road as soon as possible,” said Zbyszewski.  “We know folks are anxious to drive up that road to see the wildlife, flowers, and beautiful views.  We hope to have it open within the next few weeks.”

State of the Trails program updates a dozen prized areas

TRAILS — The Inland Northwest Trails Coalition has rounded up more than a dozen local leaders in trails-related efforts for the annual “state of the trails” presentations Thursday, June 12,  starting at 5:30 p.m. at Mountain Gear Headquarters, 6021 E. Mansfield Ave. in Spokane Valley. 

“Every year the coalition invites land managers to give a report on what is happening with our hiking, skiing, snowshoeing, biking, kayaking, canoeing outdoor adventure areas,” said Lunell Haught, INTC coordinator. “We all come together in one big meeting so that you do not need to go to 10 different meetings to find out the latest news.” 

Trail users can hear the status of trail issues and learn where they can get involved in trail projects.

Natural areas will be covered, including updates on Spokane County Conservation Futures areas – a new Antoine Peak trail and access plan is developing – and progress on the proposed Dream Trail corridor heading north from the Dishman Hills.

Popular paved routes and rail-trails, such as the Centennial Trail, the Ben Burr Trail and Fish Lake Trail, will be reviewed, including efforts to connect them.

Two Washington State Parks that provide roughly 200 miles of trail opportunities – Mount Spokane and Riverside – will be represented by park rangers.

The useful Spokane River Water Trail website will be updated and the Washington Trails Association will detail this season’s trails maintenance projects from Spokane County to the Salmo-Priest Wilderness.

The Beacon Hill mountain biking trail system and terrain park will be covered.

Geological routes through the region’s Channeled Scablands will be summarized by the Ice Age Floods Instutue and local U.S. Bureau of Land Management managers will highlight plans for new trails in the Fishtrap Lake area.

Haught said the consortium of outdoor recreation and conservation groups has pulled together to encourage city and county governments to engage in regional trail planning.

The group’s vision, she said, “is a system of paths, trails and open space corridors that connect neighborhoods, community and regional parks and conservation land in our region to engage people in muscle-powered recreational and conservation opportunities, promote active transportation and preserve open space to enhance our region’s quality of life.”

Washington to offer free entry at state parks

PUBLIC LANDS — Washington State Parks have a fee-free access day coming up.

Here's the list of 11 days in which the Discover Pass is not needed for vehicle entry in 2014:

  • Jan. 19 and 20 – Martin Luther King holiday.
  • March 19 – Washington State Parks birthday.
  • April 19 – Spring Saturday Free Day.
  • April 22 – Earth Day.
  • May 11 – Spring Sunday Free Day.
  • June 7 and 8 – National Trails Day and WDFW Free Fishing Weekend.
  • June 14 – National Get Outdoors Day.
  • Aug. 25 – In honor of National Park Service’s birthday.
  • Sept. 27 –National Public Lands Day.
  • Nov. 11 – Veterans Day holiday.

Federal land fee-free entry days also are scheduled in 2014 to parks, forests, U.S. Bureau of Land management lands, refuges and other national interest lands where fees are charged. 

Spokane County Parks has plan for Antoine Peak

PUBLIC LANDS — Spokane County Parks Department has created an access and management plan for the 1,066-acre Antoine Peak Conservation Area in Spokane Valley. The plan will be presented in an open house meeting tonight, May 28, 4 p.m.-6 p.m., at Mountain Gear Headquarters, 6012 E. Mansfield. 

Antoine Peak was purchased in three phases, 2007 - 2012, with half of the funding coming from the county Conservation Futures Program and half from the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office through the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program (Urban Wildlife Habitat Category).

So far, a small trailhead has been developed on the east side of the property off of Lincoln Road. Other access points are undeveloped.

Although unauthorized motor vehicles are not allowed on Antoine Peak, about 20 miles of road, trail, and ATV tracks have been built or formed over several decades before the land was secured by the county. This network has created erosion and encouraged illegal motorized access and disturbance to wildlife, said Paul Knowles, county parks planner. 

The proposed access and trail plan strives to balance recreation and wildlife needs as much as possible, Knowles said, noting that it calls for:

  • Creation or preserving several loop trails
  • Creating larger areas of undisturbed habitat
  • Developing adequate off-street parking on the west side of the park
  • Preserving several routes necessary to maintain access for stewardship and emergency response
  • Cosuring roads and trails that are little used by the public, fragment habitat unnecessarily, are steep and facilitate erosion, and/or serve little to no maintenance function.

Next Steps: After receiving public input and finalized, Knowles says Spokane County Parks will pursue grant funding to implement the trail plan. Once finished, Antoine Peak will become a destination for hiking, horseback riding, wildlife viewing, and many other passive recreation uses.


Documents:

Catching some air off the South Hill bluff

FLYING — My bicycle commute up the South Hill and along High Drive is never dull. The bluff trails invite all sorts of people and recreation, such as hikers, dog walkers, mountain bikers, runners, families, people on the verge of making families….

Last night I was treated to the flying spectacle of paraglider Jonathan Woodruff launching off High Drive.

"I parked by car below and I have time for one quick flight this evening," he said…. and he was off.

South Hill Bluff trails cleanup nets tons of trash

PUBLIC LANDS — While volunteers are signing up for major efforts to spiff up trails during the upcoming  national trails week, groups already have been sprucing up the South Hill slopes and trails below High Drive.

John Schram of the Friends of the Bluff sums up the most recent effort:

 A hearty and humble 'Thank You!' goes out to all who were involved in the bluff cleanup on Saturday May 3rd. It was a perfect overcast day for the nearly 50 volunteers to help pull up the piles of metal and trash to our staging area at 57th and Hatch.

A special thank you goes out to the 29th and Pittsburg LDS church members for providing a very large contingent of volunteers. The main effort focused on the bluff slope extending down to the Rocket Market and a smaller section near the river below High Drive between 33rd and 37th.

Pacific Recycling, our platinum sponsor, donated a 30 yard metal bin which we filled to the top. 2.63 tons of metal was hauled away which will net the Friends of the Bluff just over $420! Another half ton of garbage (including 27 tires) was carted off to the dump. All of this was accomplished two minutes shy of our 9am-12pm goal time frame.

After surveying the group's accomplishments, Schram seemed to think the sky's the limit for what volunteers can do:

Our next clean up effort will be focused on removal of the three vehicles at the bottom of the hill down from 37th/High. Does anyone have access to a helicopter?

PCT trail record setter checks out Sandpoint

HIKING — The woman who set the 60-day, self-supported, speed-hiking record for the 2700-mile Pacific Crest Trail in 2013 was in Sandpoint Wednesday to give a presentation for the annual meeting of the Friends of the Scotchman Peaks Wilderness.

The crowd that came for the show was not disappointed — especially with her animated description of an 11 p.m. on-the-trail. face-to-face encounter with a cougar. (Anish dominated!)

But Heather "Anish" Anderson needed to stretch her legs, before the program.  After an early morning radio interview, she headed out on the Gold Hill Trail with her boyfriend, Kevin Douglas, and Phil Hough of the FSPW.

"I don't walk fast," she said. "I'm a 3 mph hiker. What set me apart on the PCT was that I could do it all day, day after day, for 60 days without a rest day averaging only 5 hours of sleep a night."

Enjoy a cold one to boost the Centennial Trail

TRAILS — Time to drink a local brew and boost our favorite trail along the Spokane River.

The Friends of the Centennial Trail is the charity of the month of May at the No-Li Brewhouse, 1003 E. Trent Ave. in Spokane.

For every Taster Tray (six 4-oz beer samples) a No-Li guest purchases, you will receive one token. The token can be used for $2 off merchandise at the pub, or the guest can choose to put the token in the Charity of the Month box up at the bar. 

At the end of the month, $2 for every token will be donated to Friends of the Centennial Trail!

Pacific Crest Trail speed-record holder to address Scotchman Peaks group

WILDERNESS — Heather “Anish” Anderson, who set the speed record for hiking the Pacific Crest Trail last summer, will keynote the annual meeting of the Friends of the Scotchman Peaks Wilderness on Wednesday, May 14, in Sandpoint.

The 2014 State of the Scotchmans event will start at 6 p.m. at Forrest M. Bird Charter Middle School auditorium, 621 Madison St. 

Anderson will speak at 7 p.m.

The program deals with her mind- and body-challenging trek — 2,655-miles from Mexico to Canada in 60 days — to set a PCT record for self-supported through-hiking.

Scotchman Peaks Wilderness advocates will present a progress report of their 10-year-effort in getting an 88,000-acre roadless area northeast of Lake Pend Oreille considered for wilderness designation. 

The group also will announce summer events including work parties and guided treks open to the public in the Cabinet Mountains Wilderness and proposed Scotchman Peak Wilderness area.

Directions:

Forrest M. Bird Charter Middle School auditorium, 621 Madison in Sandpoint.

  • From U.S. Highway 2, turn south on Division  (marked by the big Mountain West Bank at the west edge of Sandpoint).
  • Go past the first stop sign and look for a sign on the right pointing the way to the Charter School.
  • A sign marking the entrance to the auditorium building. 

Nine Mile boat launch improvements complete

BOATING – Boat launch renovations at Nine Mile Recreation Area, 11226 W. Charles Rd., on Lake Spokane (Long Lake) have been completed and the site is open for the season.

Riverside State Park officials say the access road has been repaved and new docks have been installed. A new concrete ramp has been poured that reaches deeper into the lake at a more gradual grade.

Opening the site was delayed because of late delivery of the docks. The launch fee is $7.

Neighbors plan South Hill Bluff cleanup Saturday

TRAILS — The Friends of the Bluff are coordinating a trash cleanup day along the popular South Hill Bluff trails below High Drive on Saturday, May 3, from 9 a.m.-noon.

Groups will stage at the dirt parking area at 57th and Hatch.

Gloves, water, wheel barrows, and dollies along with tie down ropes will be crucial items needed for the day. 

"If you have been in the down slope area recently you might have noticed growing piles of metal, tires, and assorted trash," said John Schram, a friends group board member and cleanup coordinator. He invited trail users to pick up and add trash to these piles, which will be picked up by the cleanup crews.

Info: Diana Roberts, 477-2167

Washington to offer free entry at state parks

PUBLIC LANDS — Washington State Parks have a fee-free access day coming up. 

Here's the list of 11 days in which the Discover Pass is not needed for vehicle entry in 2014:

  • Jan. 19 and 20 – Martin Luther King holiday.
  • March 19 – Washington State Parks birthday.
  • April 19 – Spring Saturday Free Day.
  • April 22 – Earth Day.
  • May 11 – Spring Sunday Free Day.
  • June 7 and 8 – National Trails Day and WDFW Free Fishing Weekend.
  • June 14 – National Get Outdoors Day.
  • Aug. 25 – In honor of National Park Service’s birthday.
  • Sept. 27 –National Public Lands Day.
  • Nov. 11 – Veterans Day holiday.

Federal land fee-free entry days also are scheduled in 2014 to parks, forests, U.S. Bureau of Land management lands, refuges and other national interest lands where fees are charged. 

Little Spokane hikers find bright spot at Knothead overlook

HIKING — Aaron Theisen - hiker, writer & photographer — found this bright spot under the stormy skies overlooking the Spokane River from the Knothead viewpoint in the Little Spokane River Natural Area.

This is Hike 84 in Day Hiking Eastern Washington.

Volunteers signing up to “unveil” the Centennial Trail

VOLUNTEER — More than 300 volunteers are signed up for the annual Unveil the Trail clean-up Friday, Saturday and Sunday (April 25-27)  to prepare the 37.5-mile Centennial Trail for it's busiest season

Friends of the Centennial Trail is working with 31 local businesses and non-profits to activate their ranks for picking up litter, pulling weeds, pruning shrubs and giving the Trail a clean sweep from the Washington/Idaho state line to Nine Mile Falls. 

The work is done in conjunction with Earth Day

“Spring cleaning work by Unveil the Trail volunteers gets the Centennial Trail ready for the 2.4 million users who will enjoy this incredible pathway this year," said Loreen McFaul, the friends group executive director. 

Trail rules, etiquette and safety information is posted on the 19 trailhead posters spanning the Trail, on printed maps sold by the Friends and on their website

“The four biggest areas of concern by Trail users are unleashed dogs, dog deposits left on/ near the Trail, bicyclists traveling faster than the 15 mph speed limit and parked vehicle break-ins at trailheads,” McFaul said.   

Users encountering potentially dangerous issues are encouraged to take photos, call Crime Check at (509) 456-2233 and Washington State Parks at (509) 465-5064.

 

Volunteer for Palisades Park cleanup Saturday

TRAILS – Volunteers are needed for the annual Palisades Park Cleanup starting at 9 a.m. on Saturday. Meet at the intersection of Greenwood, Rimrock and Basalt roads.

A tailgate party lunch for volunteers is set for noon.

The city park, which is near Indian Canyon, features Rimrock Drive, now a non-motorized route overlooking Spokane, plus hiking trails in a natural conservation area.

RSVP: membership@palisadesnw.com.

Mineral Ridge Trail a quick fix for hikers

HIKING — David Taylor, who's already sampled some of the region's choice early season trails, made an early morning hike today on the Mineral Ridge Trail, which starts from the Beauty Bay area of Lake Coeur d'Alene.  (Head south from I-90 at the Wolf Lodge Bay exit).

The trail was in good shape and the view, as always, didn't disappoint.

Ferry County Rail Trail trestle decked, ready to ride

TRAILS — The Ferry County Rail Trail's Curlew Lake Trestle across the north end of the great fishing lake has been re-decked and is being opened for public use.

Ferry County Rail Trail Partners and the county commissioner’s Rail Corridor Committee will dedicate the bridge at 1 p.m. on Saturday, April 26 at the east end of the trestle.

The Ferry County Rail Trail runs 28.5 miles on an abandoned railway from the U.S.-Canada border to an existing trail at Republic, the county seat. Some portions of the trail are in good condition for mountain biking while some stretches are still rough.  The stretch north from Curlew is especially nice as it follows the Kettle River.

"This project represents the culmination of several years of planning and effort by local, state and federal agencies and volunteers who are working together to improve the Ferry County Rail-Trail," the Rail Trail Partners said in a media release.

Refreshments will be served after the ceremony refreshments followed by a group hike on the trail 2.5 miles to Black’s Beach.

BLM opens Escure Ranch road to Towell Falls

PUBLIC LANDS — The gate has been opened temporarily at Escure Ranch to allow motor vehicles to drive the road less than three miles into Towell Falls, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management's Spokane office has announced. 

The 14,000-acre BLM Rock Creek Recreation Area site south of Sprague is the realm of hikers and mountain bikers for most of the year, but the road is opened to the scenic falls in the window between the winter and spring mud season and the fire-danger season, which starts sometime in June.

BLM spokesman Steve Smith said:

The Towell Falls gate is now open at BLM's Rock Creek Recreation Site, and that Towell Falls Road has been very recently mowed.  As usual, the gate will remain open until we decide there is too much risk of wildland fire ignition for vehicle travel to continue on that road.

Wenaha River trail in full bloom for hikers

BACKPACKING — This has been a perfect week to backpack the Wenaha River trail into the Wenaha-Tucannon Wilderness.

Here's what Paul Knowles, Spokane County Parks planner, had to say after returning from a weekend trek into the area

Went down to the Wenaha this weekend. Perfect timing! No rattlers, ticks, or poison ivy yet and an incredible color show!

The Wenaha River Trail was mentioned in my Sunday Outdoors story on April hiking opportunities as one of my top early-season picks for hikers looking to stretch their legs for a day or several days.

You'll find more details on the hike and the area in 100 Hikes in the Inland Northwest.

Deep Creek hike has potential for discovery

HIKING — My story about the visual pleasures of day hiking in April was published in the Sunday Outdoors section.  One of the hikes mentioned was Deep Creek Canyon in Riverside State Park.

As if to emphasize the timeliness of hiking that area, Crystal Gartner and members of the Upper Columbia River Group of Sierra Club were on the trail finding more to see than spring wildflowers.

If nesting bald eagles might tickle your fancy, take this hike — No. 82 in Day Hiking Eastern Washington — and be sure to hike all the way to the benches on Pine Bluff.

Hint:  Bring binoculars!

Washington to offer free entry at state parks

PUBLIC LANDS — Washington State Parks have a couple of fee-free access days coming up. 

Here's the list of 11 days in which the Discover Pass is not needed for vehicle entry in 2014:

  • Jan. 19 and 20 – Martin Luther King holiday.
  • March 19 – Washington State Parks birthday.
  • April 19 – Spring Saturday Free Day.
  • April 22 – Earth Day.
  • May 11 – Spring Sunday Free Day.
  • June 7 and 8 – National Trails Day and WDFW Free Fishing Weekend.
  • June 14 – National Get Outdoors Day.
  • Aug. 25 – In honor of National Park Service’s birthday.
  • Sept. 27 –National Public Lands Day.
  • Nov. 11 – Veterans Day holiday.

Federal land fee-free entry days also are scheduled in 2014 to parks, forests, U.S. Bureau of Land management lands, refuges and other national interest lands where fees are charged.