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Living with Coyotes program presented by South Hill bluff group

TRAILS — In mid-April last year, several off-leash dogs were attacked by coyotes that were defending the territory around a den near a popular South Hill bluff trail below High Drive.

Candace Hultberg-Bennett, a local wildlife biologist, will present a short program on what people can do to live safely and peacefully in the same neighborhood with coyotes.

  • The program starts at 7 p.m. at St. Stevens Church Parish Hall, 5720 S. Perry.

The Friends of the Bluffs have asked her to speak on her studies on how urbanization and the reintroduction of wolves have impacted coyote populations in northeastern Washington.

A public sentiment that emerged from the coyote-dog conflicts last year was the simmering discontent trail users have with people who violate city-county laws by walking, running and even bicycling with their unleashed dogs.

HELP IMPROVE BLUFF TRAILS

The Friends of the Bluff have scheduled another trail work party, 9 a.m.-noon, on April 27.

Meet at the High Drive and Bernard trailhead. Wear suitable work clothes and gloves, bring water to drink.

Info: robertsd@wsu.edu

Celebrities sign skateboard to boost Ferry County rail trail

TRAILS — Development of the 28.5-mile Ferry County Rail Trail from Republic along the Kettle River to the U.S. Canada border is getting a boost with an auction item signed by celebrities.

A Longboard Skate - donated to Ferry County Rail Trail Partners by Spokane City Councilman Jon Snyder - is being signed by celebrities as a one-of-a-kind auction item. The effort is spearheaded by FCRTP organizer Bob Whittaker, who's also a professional rock band manager currently on a world tour with the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.

Celebs signing the board so far include Nick Zinner, Karen O and Brian Chase of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, as well as Eddie Vedder, Neko Case, Nick Cave and pro-skating champ Tony Hawk.

2013 FCRTP Annual Meeting 
The annual meeting of the Ferry County Rail Trail Partners will be held at the Carousel Building at the Ferry County Fairgrounds, 3 p.m.-5 p.m. on Sunday (April 21). Expect to find good people and refreshments, plus a Ferry County Historical Society presentation on area railroad history.

Olympic Park not taking campsite reservations by phone

BACKPACKING — Olympic National Park is accepting reservation requests for wilderness camping areas with overnight use limits by fax or postal mail only. Phone reservations are no longer accepted.

Limits on overnight use in high-use wilderness camp areas are in effect May 1-Sept. 30 to help minimize the impact from humans and provide a quality wilderness experience. Reservations for these sites are recommended, park officials said in a news release.

Reservations for camp areas without overnight use limits are not required and are not accepted. Permits for these areas are not limited and may be picked up at a permit office just before a hike.

A wilderness camping permit is required for all overnight stays in the park’s backcountry areas. Permit fees are $5 to register a group and an additional $2 per person per night for anyone 16 or older. The full permit fee will be charged for all reservations. The fee is nonrefundable.

Overnight use limits are in effect for these high-use wilderness camp areas:

Ozette Coast, Royal Basin/Royal Lake area, Grand Valley and Badger Valley area, Lake Constance, Upper Lena Lake, Flapjack Lakes, Sol Duc/Seven Lakes Basin/Mink Lake area, Hoh Lake and C.B. Flats, Elk Lake and Glacier Meadows and the group and stock camp sites along the Hoh River Trail.

Here's the proceedure:

  • Download the campsite reservation form.
  • Mail reservation requests to Olympic National Park, WIC, 3002 Mt. Angeles Road, Port Angeles, WA 98362, or
  • Fax reservation requests to (360) 565-3108.

 Click here for additional information.

Grass widows not alone on South Hill bluff

TRAILS — Local writer Jim Kershner, a household name to long-time readers of The Spokesman-Review, is having a ball watching spring explode along the trails of the South Hill bluff below High Drive.

Last week he found a few bunches of arrowleaf balsamroot blooming a bit ahead of normal.

On Saturday he found the slopes alive (above) with grasswidows — that clearly were having nothing to do with being alone this season.

Coyote advisory:  Remember last year, when several dogs were attacked by denning coyotes as they joined their owners for hikes or runs on the South Hill Bluff trails? 

The Friends of the Bluffs are sponsoring a free program, "Living with Coyotes," at 7 p.m., April 17, at St. Stevens Church Parish Hall, 5720 S. Perry. 

Meantime, be proactive in your dog's favor: Keep your dog on a leash.

Balsamroot starting to bloom on South Hill Bluff

NATURE — Reader Jim Kershner emailed a photo snapped Thursday of arrowleaf balsamroots blooming in brilliant yellow on the South Hill bluff trails — a bit earlier than usual, but, hey, we should have expected this given the smiles on golfers' faces all through March.

Kershner must have been running from a moose, evading a coyote or walking his rough-and-tumble dog, Jack — the photo was blurry — but those definitely were wildflowers.  

Take a hike on the miles of trails below High Drive and see for yourself.

Next to bloom:  Serviceberry.

Dishman Hills Buttercup Hike April 6

HIKING – The 47th annual Buttercup Hike, a free family-style guided walk through the Dishman Hills Natural Area, will be led by Dishman Hills Conservancy members on April 6.

Hikers will set out on the two-hour walk at noon from the Camp Caro parking area.

Pre-register.

Friends of Bluff planning future for South Hill trails

PUBLIC LANDS — The Friends of the Bluff is beginning to develop a comprehensive plan for the popular trails on the south-facing slope of city-owned land on the South Hill.

The group already has set “sustainable trails” as the highest priority.

The public meeting set for Wednesday (March 27), 6:30 p.m., at St Stephens Episcopal Church will consider questions such as:

  • What is a sustainable trail?
  • What is a “multi-use” trail on the Bluff?
  • When do we have enough trails on the Bluff?
  • How do we maintain existing trails?
  • When do we decommission unsustainable trails?
  • Trail signage or no signage?

Info: Diana Roberts, 477-2167

Email: robertsd@wsu.edu

Tonight: Trails groups update region’s growing routes

OUTGOING – The Inland Northwest Trails Coalition has rounded up a dozen local leaders in trails-related efforts for the annual “state of the trails” presentations tonight (March 21) starting at 6 p.m. at Mountain Gear Headquarters, 6021 E. Mansfield Ave. in Spokane Valley. 

This is the place for trail users to learn where they can get involved in trail projects.

Natural areas will be covered, including the Dishman Hills, Palisades Park and Spokane County Conservation Futures areas.

The Centennial Trail, Trolley Trail and Fish Lake Trail will be reviewed as well as the expanding hiking, biking and nordic ski trail systems at Mount Spokane.

Progress on the Spokane River water trail will be updated and the Washington Trails Association will detail this season’s trails maintenance projects from Spokane County to the Salmo-Priest Wilderness.

Lunell Haught, INTC coordinator, 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.”

Spokane Mountaineers annual Backpack School walks the talk

HIKING– The Spokane Mountaineers are gearing up for their annual Backpack School, an excellent resource for novice and intermediate hikers who want to develop hiking skills and contacts.

  • Deadline to sign up is Friday (March 22).
  • The Friday-evening classes start April 5 and run for seven weeks, along with some Saturday field sessions, culminating with a two-night graduation backpacking trip.

Session topics include gear, clothing, navigation, first-aid and wilderness cooking with the support of a club that leads weekly group hikes.

"Participants learn to be confident and comfortable in the backcountry and make some new friends to share adventures with," said school co-leader Chuck Huber.

Cost: $35 plus club membership.

Info: 939-2644 or email chuckmatic@gmail.com509.

Hog Canyon waterfall beckons early season hikers

HIKING — Fishing success is tapering off at Hog Canyon Lake west of Spokane near Fishtrap Lake, but the hiking season is underway.

The waterfall that flows into the lake's upper end was flowing nicely on Saturday. A dozen or so anglers were trying to catch rainbow trout in the winter fishing lake that closes for the season at the end of March while several groups of hikers were walking — and backpack camping — along the shoreline on land managed by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.

  • See a post from a previous year.

Fishing at Fishtrap Lake, which should be excellent this year, opens the fourth Saturday in April.

Backpackers face work, joy on circumnavigation hikes, Landers says

HIKING — TONIGHT (March 18) I'll be presenting a free slide program, "Hiking Full Circle: The Pains and Pleasures of the Wonderland Trail, the Tour du Mont Blanc and other Loop Trips" for the Spokane Mountaineers — and you're invited.

The program starts at 7 p.m. at Mountain Gear Headquarters, 6021 E. Mansfield Ave. in Spokane Valley.

Remember, the critical "opening day" is near to apply for backcountry camping permits needed for hiking around Mount Rainier.

The Tour de Blanc is the classic circumnavitation trek in Europe.

And there are plenty more loop trips to consider right here in the Inland Northwest. 

Rich Landers, Outdoors editor for The Spokesman-Review, has been a Spokane Mountaineers member since 1977.  Landers, author of 100 Hikes in the Inland Northwest and Paddling Washington, has co—authored a new hiking guidebook, Day Hiking Eastern Washington, that will be published this spring.

Dishman Hills group sets celebration, honors Hamilton

OUTCONSERVE – The Dishman Hills Conservancy will celebrate 47 years of securing prized Spokane County conservation areas at the group’s annual dinner, March 23, at All Saints Lutheran Church, 315 S. Spruce in Brown’s Addition.

Special honors will go to Michael Hamilton, who’s helped open public access to the Rocks of Sharon and other areas during his 20 years as the group’s president.

Sign up for the dinner by March 19 at www.dishmanhills.org or call Mary Weathers, 448-6462.

Spokane Valley plans trail in city core

TRAILS — A proposed bike-pedestrian trail through the heart of Spokane Valley will be discussed at a community workshop Monday, March 11, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Spokane Valley City Hall, 11707 E. Sprague, Suite 101. 

The proposed 12-foot wide trail would run about 2.2 miles down the old Milwaukee right-of-way, between University Road and Evergreen Road and between Sprague and 4thAvenue. Future extensions would be possible.

City of Spokane Valley Public Works staff members and design planning consultants will be on hand to introduce the project, review maps, and help gather input from the community.

Info: Steve Worley, project manager, 720-5014, email sworley@spokanevalley.org.

Video: What’s Up With Fat Bikes?

WINTER SPORTS — Fat bikes, snow bikes…. whatever you call them, they're catching on year-round with a niche of the cycling community that's mobilizing on ballooned out tires.  Get a glimpse of from the saddle in this video: What's Up With Fat Bikes?

Trails group recruiting volunteers for summer trail projects

OUTDO – The Washington Trails Association is recruiting volunteers for an ambitious lineup of trail-building and maintenance projects in far Eastern Washington this season.

Every year as the budgets for parks and forests dwindle, volunteers become more important, said Jane Baker, local WTA trail crew leader in Spokane.

 The work parties range for day-jobs at the Rocks of Sharon to multi-day trips in the Salmo-Priest Wilderness that combine backpacking with trail clearing.

WTA is a third of the way to meeting the 2,000-hours of work at Liberty Lake County Park the group pledged in order to get a state grant.  The first of several work parties planned at Liberty Lake is set for March 16, followed by work in April, May, June and July.

Other project areas include the  Little Pend Oreille National Wildlife Refuge, Dishman Hills, Mount Spokane and Sullivan Lake.

Sign up online.

Info: (206_ 625-1367.

Snowmobilers venturing out of bounds at Mount Spokane

WINTER SPORTS — A few snowmobilers continue to break rules and ride out of their approved zones and onto snowshoe trails and the downhill ski area at Mount Spokane.

It's not a new problem, as this story explains.

Snowshoers who have been finding tracks in several park areas off-limits to snowmobiles suggest people who encounter the problem should report their experience on Mount Spokane State Park's online visitor comment form.

Idaho focuses on wilderness trail maintenance

WILDERNESS — Outfitters outraged about the disastrous condition of unmaintained trails in the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness got a hearing Thursday in the Idaho Legislature.

Result: State lawmakers want U.S. Forest Service officials to make trail repair a priority in the vast backcountry for increased access and safety.  See the story.

Outfitters liken Salmon River trails to disaster area

WILDERNESS — Horse packers fed up with the lack of trail maintenance and the frequency of wildfire in Idaho’s largest wilderness area are asking legislators to declare it a natural resource disaster area.  The Idaho Legislature is likely to discuss a resolution on this issue on Thursday, reports Eric Barker of the Lewiston Tribune.

House Joint Memorial No. 1 seeks disaster status for the pristine Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness Area. Sponsored by Rep. Lenore Barrett of Challis and Rep. Marcus Gibbs of Grace — and authored by the Salmon Chapter of the Back Country Horsemen of Idaho — the resolution represents a shot across the bow of the U.S. Forest Service, which manages the 2.3 million-acre area in the mountainous heart of the state.

Click "continue reading" for more details from Barkers report.

Snowmobile route near Browns Lake closed for logging

WINTER SPORTS — A portion of the popular Kings Lake groomed snowmobile route in Pend Oreille County is being closed for the rest of the 2013 season because of a logging operation.

The Colville National Forest and Stimson Lumber Co. announced the closure today as routes will be plowed to accommodate truck traffic.

The snowmobile route provides access to the north shore of Browns Lake.

“While this closure along with the two other we have in the valley this winter will be an impact to the groomed snowmobile routes the area has to offer, there are still a number of options for snowmobiling,” said Gayne Sears, district ranger. The Washington State Parks Sno-Park website features maps of the options. 

The two other closures in place are:

  • Cee Cee Ah Creek Road, because of a large storm washout.
  • the National Forest portions of the Middle and East Branches Le Clerc Creek Roads, and the Hanlon Cutoff Road due to winter logging operations.

Details from Nan Berger, recreation staffer in Newport:

Only a portion of the entire route is closed. The national forest roads closed are as follows: 1920000 (CCA Road) from the jct. with 1920306 (approx. 10.0 mile mark) to its jct. with 1920306 (approx.. 12.0 mile mark); 5030000 (Browns Lake Road) from the jct. with County Road 3389 (Kings Lake) to its jct. with 5080000 (Sheepherder) at approx. 3.5 mile mark. 5080000 is closed from the jct. with 5030000 to east boundary of section 13 (T34NR44E) approx. 3 mile mark.

Info: Newport Ranger Station, (509) 447-7300, or the Sullivan Lake Ranger Station, (509) 446-7500. 

Start the year off with a group hike in Riverside State Park

HIKING — Here's a way to rally on New Years Day:  Walk it off!

Riverside State Park in Spokane is among 13 parks in the state beckoning walkers to ring in the new year — and celebrate the 100th year of Washington State Parks — with a group hike.

The First Day hike begins Jan. 1 at 1 p.m. at the swinging bridge parking lot in the Bowl and Pitcher Area. Visitors will explore the Bowl and Pitcher River Trail and see the dramatic winter whitewater rapids of the Spokane River. The hike is open to participants of all ages. On-leash dogs are allowed.

State Parks’ partner and friends groups will provide hot chocolate for hike participants. Hikers are encouraged to pack water and dress according to weather conditions.

See more information about specific First Day Hikes across the state.

Snow bikers get pass to ride Methow ski trails

WINTER SPORTS — The  Methow Valley Sport Trails Association is opening portions of its 120-mile groomed nordic trail system to bicycles this year.

 Skiers headed out on a few of the nationally celebrated nordic trails that had enough snow for grooming this week.

When more snow falls, several trails will be opened to “fat bike” enthusiasts who rely on mountain bikes with oversized low-pressure tires to keep from sinking into the snow and offer more traction.

See a promotional video for snow biking.

 “We are piloting fat biking with our eyes and ears wide open,” said James DeSalvo, MVSTA executive director. 

“We believe we can manage fat biking use so that it has no greater impact to our trail platform than that of our traditional skiing public,” he said, adding that feedback would guide the future of the program.

Also new this year on MVSTA trails:

  • Youths 17 and younger ski free.
  • A $5 daily pass is required for skiing with dogs on trails that are open for skijoring.

Fat bikes are available for rent at Methow Cycle and Sport in Winthrop.  Rack adaptors are available for customers so they can transport rental fat bikes to the riding area.

Fat bike demo days are scheduled in the Methow Valley Dec. 16 and Jan. 13.

Click here for info on these and other Methow Valley events.

Click here for the MVSTA grooming report.

Read on for the guidelines MVSTA has established for snow biking on the trail system:

Volunteers clear tangled timber from Big Lick Trail

TRAILS — A skilled group of skilled youths and other volunteers have prevailed after putting a week of sweat into the seemingly hopeless task of clearing blowdowns off the Big Lick Trail in the Kettle River Range.

The maze-like tangle of downfall had rendered the historic route impassable before volunteers from Kettle Range Conservation Group and Curlew Job Corps forestry students put in a herculean effort requiring seven days and 366 person hours to clear 5.5 miles of trail. The hundreds of blowdowns in some locations were piled into twisted trunks and branches more than 7 feet deep, said Tim Coleman, KRCG director. 

“That’s a tremendous amount of hours and work, but thanks to the volunteers that organized work parties and the Curlew Job Corps crew that completed much of the heavy lifting to reopen this trail, the task got done this year,” said Eric McQuay, Recreation Program Manager for the West Zone of the Colville National Forest.   “Without help from groups such as these, we simply couldn’t keep trails such as Big Lick maintained with the Forest Service’s limited trail maintenance budget,” he said.  

Big Lick Trail is a historic Ferry County trail along North Fork St. Peter Creek and traversing the Kettle Range between Mt. Leona and Profanity Peak. It links the western side of the Kettle Range to the Kettle Crest / Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail and to Ryan’s Cabin Trail and S. Fork of Boulder Creek on the range’s eastern flanks. Historically, this route was used by fur trappers, market hunters, ranchers and prospectors, but more recently its use is primarily for backcountry recreation.

Read on for more details about this effort that serves everyone who uses and appreciates trails.

Appalachian Trail proposal seeks link to Gulf of Mexico

HIKING — A proposed extension of the Appalachian Trail could add add a few hundred miles of foot trail — and possibly a canoeing option — to link the trail all the way south to the Gulf of Mexico.

The nonprofit organization Trust for Public Land has been working for years to acquire land along the Chattahoochee River in the southeastern United States, where the Appalachian Trail (AT) ends at its southernmost point. The organization intends to make this land available to the National Park Service and other partners for an extension of the AT that would lead all the way to the Gulf of Mexico.

Currently, the 2,184-mile AT begins in the middle of Maine and ends in northern Georgia. It crosses the Chattahoochee River’s uppermost headwaters. Curt Soper, the Georgia-Alabama state director of the Trust for Public Land, told ABC News that the non-profit envisions Appalachian hikers being able to continue on a trail down along the river to the Gulf of Mexico at the shores of Florida.

Repairs temporarily close Centennial Trail segment near Barker Road

TRAILS — The Spokane River Centennial Trail is closed between miles 7 and 9 through Nov. 24 as workers  repair the erosion damage to the trail west of Barker, reports Kaye Turner of the Friends of the Centennial Trail.

The detour flows from the Walt Worthy building bollards (near the basalt water fountain; east of Sullivan and Krispy Kreme) out onto Indiana Parkway.

Progress east through the new round-about onto Flora going north until it curves right, east, onto Montgomery. 

At the "T" intersection of Montgomery and Riverway, turn right heading slightly south then east to the "T" intersection with Barker. 

Turn left, north, onto Barker. The Barker Trail Head is on the right before the bridge.

Google mobilizes Street View to map, photograph backcountry trails

TRAIL MAPPING — Soon you'll be able to look intimately at a trail on your computer or smartphone before launching out to hike, bike or ride a horse on it.

Google has begun applying it's Street View technology to the backcountry.

In its first official outing, the Street View team is using the Trekker—a wearable backpack with a camera system on top (see video above)—to traverse the Grand Canyon and capture 360-degree images of the breathtaking natural landscapes.

Google staffers have been hiking with the Trekker to capture portions of the South Rim at Grand Canyon National Park, as well as the famous Bright Angel Trail, and South Kaibab Trail.”

Google said the new imagery would soon be making its way to Google Maps.

See details on the project in this report from the Associated Press. 

Hiker finds Mount Spokane dusted by snow

STATE PARKS — Warren Walker found this moody scene Monday on the trail near the Bald Knob picnic area on Mount Spokane.

Liberty Lake Park trail closing briefly for renovation

TRAILS — Beginning Monday (Oct. 22) through Friday (Oct. 26) the popular 7-mile loop trail at Liberty Lake Regional Park will be closed for trail renovation that includes blasting.

Rock will be removed in an area to widen and level the trail.

The work is being funded with a $36,860 grant from the Washington State Recreation & Conservation Office. In addition to blasting work, the grant is funding bridge replacement, interpretive signage, habitat restoration, and other trail improvements along the popular loop trail.

The Washington Trails Association, Backcountry Horsemen, and the Lands Council are project partners.

See more details in Monday's SR story.

Click here for information or updates or contact Spokane County Parks, Recreation, & Golf, (509) 477-4730.

Volunteers pack mountain of debris off South Hill bluff trails

TRAILS — A great turnout of 67 volunteers worked this morning to pack tons of branches and debris off the bluff below High Drive in an effort to make the popular South Hill trails more resistant to a major fire.

The branches have been trimmed and piled by a smaller group of dedicated volunteers organized this summer by the Friends of the Bluffs.

By noon, the amount of material piled up along High Drive for city crews to pick up was impressive.

The bluffs are in better shape for their effort and the slope and neighborhoods are safer.

Sponsors offered some neat prizes to help reward the volunteers. 

  • Info: Diana Roberts at WSU Spokane County Extension, email robertsd@wsu.edu or phone 477-2167.

Trailwise parents organize online to hike with kids

HIKING — A group of trailwise parents in Spokane has started leading group hikes for families and children. Anyone who likes to hike with families is welcome to join them!

It's a free Meet Up group that organizes online. They call themselves the Big and Little Rock Hikers.

 Last week they were on a treasure hunt at Slavin Conservation area.

Coming up:

  • Sun. Oct. 14th, Hike & Scavenger Hunt with Clues, to Big Rock & Beyond, led by Gary (age 10) and Kathy Kalich.
  • Sat. Oct. 20th, Beaver Dam Hike w Biology Expert & GU Professor Sue Niezgoda, Liberty Lake Trail.