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Hikers: check conditions before you head out

TRAILS — Heavy rain and lingering snow have created a few obstacles for hikers, campers and other heading into the backcountry this weekend. Best to check with Forest Service offices today to make sure your destination is reachable.

For example:

  • Hikers headed to Iron Mountain area east of Bonners Ferry will have to walk an extra half-mile to the trailhead because of a washout on Boulder Creek Road. The washout and lingering snow have kept trail crews from the area.
  • Glacier National Park’s Going to the Sun Road was blocked for three days this week after a dozen or so mudslides buried sections of the popular road for miles. It’s open again today. However, the park service says more bad weather is expected on Friday, with a flash flood watch issued for the park from noon to midnight. Heavy lightning, hail and wind up to 60 mph is expected.

Lingering snow has prevented trail clearing in some areas.

  • Idaho Panhandle crews have just begun logging out the Long Canyon area in the Selkirk Mountains northwest of Bonners Ferry.  But the Parker Ridge area above is still covered with snow.

Priest Lake: All 192 miles of trails on the district have been logged out, getting a big boost from the Back Country Horsemen, who cleared out 50 miles of trails in their annual Memorial Day campout work party.

Huckleberries are ripe in some low to mid elevations.

Video offers primer on chosing trekking poles

HIKING — While a Sunday Outdoors feature story covers the value and issues involved with using trekking poles for hiking, this video offers a useful guide to selecting poles for your type of use.

Our family became advocates of using trekking poles while hiking long ago. They save your knees, ward of charging marmots (seriously), offer an upper body workout and come in useful for all sort of things, including a center pole for a tarp tent.

Volunteers sign up for work day at Camp Sekani trails

TRAILS — Volunteers are organizing a work party to spruce up the trail system at Camp Sekani along the Spokane River below Beacon Hill.

The Camp Sekani Trail Day is set for Saturday, July 14, 9 a.m.-noon.

Camp Sekani, owned by the city of Spokane, provides recreationists with hiking, mountain biking, disc golf and many other outdoor opportunities.

This work project will bring together volunteers to clean and maintain existing trails, rehabilitate areas that have suffered from overuse and help to develop the overall infrastructure of the Beacon Hill area for users.

Plan to bring sturdy trail shoes, appropriate clothes, gloves, water bottle with water in it as there is no access to water.

Useful trail tools include shovels, rakes, litter bags, and loppers.

RSVP to volunteer coordinator Catherine Lyle at clyle@spokanecity.org.

Camp Sekani is located at 6707 E. Upriver Drive.

Directions:  Head East on Mission. At Mission and Upriver Drive take a right. Continue on Upriver Drive for about 2 miles until you see the Sekani gate on your left. Enter the gate and you should notice the caretakers house on the right. If you get to the Boulder Beach Parking Lot on your right you have gone too far.

Join the group for hikes to area’s wild spots

TRAILS — Conservation groups throughout the region are scheduling guided group hikes to introduce outdoor enthusiasts to choice wild areas throughout the region. Following are some of the upcoming options with links to see the many hikes on each group’s summer schedule.

Columbia Highlands

  • June 23: Grassy Top-Hall Mountain hike, 8 strenous miles near Sullivan Lake.
  • June 30: Clackamas Mountain hike, 10 moderate miles.

Info: Kettle Range Conservation Group.

Scotchman Peaks

  • June 30: Spar Lake archeological hike, 8 miles, with expert on Native American foraging.
  • July 7: Grouse Lake, easy hike with Native Plant Society leader.

Info: Friends of the Scotchman Peaks Wilderness.

Dishman Hills

  • July 11: Dishman Hills Natural Area, five-mile hike including portions of area burned by 2008 wildfire.

Info: Dishman Hills Natural Area Association.

Idaho Conservation League

  • June 23: Maiden Rock, Selkirk Mountains.
  • July 7: Chilco Mountain north Of Coeur d’Alene.

Info: Idaho Conservation League Sandpoint office, (208) 265-9565.

Discover Riverside State Park during Sunday open house

STATE PARKS — Special activities at five venues are scheduled Sunday, (June 24),  10 a.m.-3 p.m., to introduce the public to features and recreation available in Riverside State Park on the west side of Spokane. 

The required Discover Pass will be available for purchase from staff and volunteers. Venues include:

Bowl and Pitcher Area, 4427 North Aubrey L. White Parkway – Hiking and biking information; a free beginner orienteering course; displays, wildlife presentations and children’s activities.

Nine Mile Recreation Area, 11226 West Charles Rd – Canoeing and kayaking activities with boats for loan, boating safety expert, bass and fly fishing info, Lake Spokane presentations.

Equestrian Area, Aubrey L. White Parkway off Government Way – Tour riding trails and new campground facilities; free pony rides for kids under 75 pounds.

Spokane House Interpretive Center, off Highway 291 just west of Nine Mile Dam – Indoor and outdoor museum exhibits and demonstrations about the early fur trade.

Off-Road Vehicle Area, 9412 N. Inland Road – All-terrain vehicle test drives, ride-alongs with expert ORV drivers and displays featuring ORV gear.

More information: riversidestatepark.org.

Helpers needed to decommission South Hill Bluff trail

TRAILS — The hiking-biking-running trails blow High Drive on the South Hill Bluff are a wonder of volunteer enterprise, but somebody's going too far.

A steep, unsustainable trail apparently built for a downhill mountain biking course, is eroding at the bottom of the bluff toward Hangman Creek. City Parks officials are coordinating with the Friends of the Bluff group to decommission the ill-advised trail and stop the damage.

"Friends of the Bluff promotes a coordinated approach to trail maintenance that takes into consideration the fragility of the landscape and multi-use needs of the Bluff users," said group coordinator Diana Roberts.

"City of Spokane Parks and Rec has asked us to help them decommission (cover over) this trail. A good group of about 20 people can accomplish this in a couple of hours.

Please come out to help on Thursday (June 21) at 6 p.m.

Please sign up by email, robertsd@wsu.edu , for information about Friends of the Bluff and directions to the meeting place.

Long-distance trail proposed for region

OUTBOUND – Spokane hiker-biker Derrick Knowles is proposing formal adoption of a 1,500-mile trail linking routes in a loop through prized wild areas of Washington, Idaho and Montana.

The Inland Northwest Trail would range from the Selkirk Mountains to Hells Canyon and lead through six national forests and at least four wilderness areas.

It would include the Spokane River Centennial Trail and Columbia Plateau Trail as well as scenic trails along the St. Joe and Selway rivers.

Knowles says the route, which he’s been researching the route since 2007, would require about four months to complete, but could be done in segments.

Details on the route will be presented Monday, 7 p.m., at the Mountain Gear corporate office, 6021 Mansfield in Spokane Valley.

Big Rock parking construction delayed by weather

TRAILS – Recent wet weather has delayed construction of a parking area to the Big Rock Conservation Area off Stevens Creek Road.

Spokane County Parks and Recreation Paul Knowles said the ground is so soggy, work probably won’t start until around July 2.

Visitors planning to hike into the Big Rock-Rocks of Sharon area near Tower Mountain are advised to use the Iller Creek Conservation Area trailhead.

Silver Mountain gondola reopens; dads ride free

RESORTS — The snow has finally melted and the Silver Mountain gondola is scheduled to reopen Saturday (June 16) to transport hikers, bikers and other visitors who want to enjoy the mountain trails and scenery.

“Summer is a fantastic time to visit Silver Mountain Resort,” said John Williams, director of marketing. “This summer we’re anticipating the 2 millionth rider on North America’s longest gondola since it opened in 1990.”

The gondola will be operating weekends only until July at which time it will be running four days a week (Friday through Monday) until Labor Day.

Father's Day incentive: Dads ride the gondola free this Sunday when accompanied by one or more of their children.

Other incentives: “BARK n’ BREW“ festival in the gondola village Sunday, noon-7 p.m.

Mountain bikers will find more than 30 miles of biking trails that meander down the mountain to the town of Kellogg. New beginner and intermediate trails have been developed.

Banff National Park slashes staff positions

PARKS — Fewer people will be taking care of fish, wildlife and the land in Canada's Banff National Park this year.

Parks Canada has eliminated 49 vacant positions on top of other job losses in Banff National Park and employees are being warned not to publicly talk about the federal government’s budget cuts – or face disciplinary action.

That figure had not been previously publicly revealed, but the elimination of the 49 vacant positions is on top of 34 other “impacted” positions in the Banff field unit alone.

Read the Rocky Mountain Outlook story.

Permits required in Montana’s Anaconda Pintler Wilderness

BACKPACKING — The U.S. Forest Service says it’s changing from a voluntary permit system to requiring permits in the popular Anaconda-Pintler Wilderness in western Montana.

Wilderness rangers say a growing number of visitors to the area have been ignoring filling out voluntary permits and disregarding warnings about backcountry abuse.

Forest Service spokesman Brandan Schulze says the permits will give the agency an idea of trends in the area so actions can be taken to minimize impacts on the wilderness.

Schulze tells the Missoulian it’s also a way to inform visitors about leave-no-trace principles.

As part of the change rangers will start checking hikers for completed permits. Fines for failing to have a permit range up to $75.

Groups leading trips to choice wild areas from town to wilderness

TRAILS — Conservation groups throughout the region are scheduling guided group hikes to introduce outdoor enthusiasts to choice wild areas throughout the region. Following are some of the upcoming options with links to see the many hikes on each group’s summer schedule.

Columbia Highlands

  • June 8: Fir Mountain day hike, 4 miles, to viewpoints over the Sanpoil River Valley.
  • June 16: Work party to restore historic Big Lick Trail.

Info: Kettle Range Conservation Group.

Scotchman Peaks

  • June 30: Spar Lake archeological hike, 8 miles, with expert on Native American foraging.

Info: Friends of the Scotchman Peaks Wilderness.

Dishman Hills

  • June 9: Pond ecology hike to West Ponds in the Spokane Valley natural area, led by a Gonzaga University biology professor.
  • June 13: Rocks of Sharon, six-mile hike up through the Iller Creek Conservation Area to Big Rock.

Info: Dishman Hills Natural Area Association.

Idaho Conservation League

  • June 16: Pend d’Oreille Bay Trail, Family Fun Hike.
  • June 23: Maiden Rock, Selkirk Mountains.

Info: ICL Sandpoint Office, (208) 265-9565.

Conservation funders meet with local groups tonight

CONSERVATION — Local trail-user groups and conservationists are celebrating the major funding efforts of the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program with a reception 5:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m., TONIGHT (June 6) at the Inland Northwest Wildlife Council Auditorium, 6116 N Market.

The state-funded organization works to leverage public funds for parks, wildlife and working farms, performing a major role in funding outdoor recreation across the state.

In the Spokane area alone, WWRP has provided more than $16 million for conservation and recreation projects. Ranging from the Little Spokane River, Quartz Mountain, Antoine Peak, Mount Spokane and the Centennial Trail, WWRP grants have helped maintain a high quality of life in this area. 

Click here for a complete list of WWRP projects in Spokane County

RSVP for tonight's reception.

Clothing-optional hike among National Trails Day outings

HIKING — A Washington nudist park north of Spokane is celebrating National Trails Day June 2 with a clothing optional hike.

Kaniksu Ranch Family Nudist Park near Loon Lake, WA will host the hike Saturday, 1 p.m.-5 p.m. in its 260-acre forest. The park, run by members, welcomes everyone. The group says it's family oriented, although unless the kids are still learning to walk, it doesn't take four hours to hike 260 acres.

“The Inland Northwest has lots of wonderful scenery, but the one unique feature Kaniksu Ranch offers that no one else does is that we can hike safely and legally NAKED in a beautiful, family-friendly environment,” organizers said.

They made no mention of whether the mosquitoes are out.  And we suggest you bring plenty of sunscreen — and dark glasses.

Click "continue reading" for all the dangling details on this event.

MEANTIME, here are a few mainstream Trails Day options for Saturday, June 2 (most require clothing and advance sign-up):

Washington Trails Association is organizing a work party to re-route and maintain trails at Liberty Lake County Park.

Riverside State Park is joining with REI for a family-oriented forest health pruning project in the park.

Elk Creek Falls is the destination for a free two-mile loop hike on the Colville National Forest, led by a Forest Service wildlife biologist.

Butterflies at Turnbull Wildlife Refuge will be the focus of a presentation and field hike led by an expert from the Washington Butterfly Association.

Friends of the Scotchman Peaks Wilderness are leading a family and dog walk on Saturday and a visit to the Ross Creek Cedars on Sunday.

Landers picks region’s top early season backpacking trips

BACKPACKING — With the snow still a few weeks from clearing off mountain trails, early season backpackers don't have to wait to hit the trail for multi-day trips.  The Inland Northwest has a good assortment of trails that some hikers have been enjoying since March. 

Here's my list of favorite early-season backpacking treks:

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.
  

Spokane meetings focus on future of state parks

PARKS — Washington State Parks officials have set meetings in Spokane to discuss potentially sweeping changes in management of facilities at Riverside and Mount Spokane.

The meetings will be at Spokane Public Library Shadle Branch, 2111 W. Wellesley Ave. as follows:

Similar meetings across the state will gather public opinion on whether the state parks system would be operated as a private enterprise based on profits generated at the sites or as a public conservation asset.

Other options include turning over more parks to local communities to operate as a non-profit attractions, officials said.

Officials also are asking the public to help them rank the top features of their state parks and what needs improvement, said Virginia Painter, parks spokeswoman in Olympia.

The cash-strapped parks system is trying to make a five-year management plan. The Washington Legislature had voted to wean the parks from all state general funding in the next few years.

Rangers and other staff positions at Riverside and Mount Spokane state parks were cut by 40 percent in Jaunary.

Click here for information about the planning effort and making comments.

Dogs not welcome near South Hill bluff coyote den

WILDLIFE — Coyotes defending a den of pups are not tolerating dogs coming through their territory between High Drive and Hangman Creek.

After my story about a Thursday attack on a dog was published today, The Spokesman-Review has learned of at least three coyote attacks this week on dogs up to 80 pounds.

Coyotes generally weigh 30-45 pounds.

If you hike in the area above Qualchan Golf Course, keep your dog on a lease for awhile.

Read on for details.

Coyotes attack dogs on South Hill bluff trails

HIKING — A trio of aggressive coyotes took on two Labrador retrievers running loose with their owner on the South Hill bluff trails Thursday, sending one dog to the vet for a chest full of stitches.

Arch Harrison said one of the two dogs he was exercising — a Sarah — was attacked by three coyotes while they were walking on the popular bluff trails below High Drive and Manito Boulevard and just above the Creek at Qualchan Golf Course. (See map for area).

He wanted to warn other people who take their dogs to the bluffs.  Keeping dogs on leashes could help prevent similar encounters.

"They were fairly aggressive and although intimidated by me, they still kept coming back around," Harrison said, wondering if there might be a den in the area.

(Indeed, read this follow-up blog post about the six pups the coyotes are defending!)

"I was able to get to Sarah before any real damage was done but as I was running up to the scene she was lying down on her belly with one coyote at her nose and another one at her tail."

Harrison thought he got away unscathed until he got back and realized his other dog, Chewie, had tangled with the coyotes and suffered numerous bites and rips under his chest and legs.

"All his wounds were on the underside with minimal bleeding and so we did not notice until later," Harrison said.

He added: "A trip to pet emergency cost slightly less than one month's house payment."

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.

Big turnout Sunday to spiff up Dishman Hills

PUBLIC LANDS — ‎547 volunteers, with a boost from the Washington Trails Association, turned out Sunday to pick up, plant and route trails in the Dishman Hills Natural Area.

The project is backed by a $5,000 grant from REI to the Dishman Hills Natural Area Association.

South Hill Bluff trail maintenance dates set

TRAILS — Last Saturday a hard-working group of 20 turned out to work on Bluff trails.

The many, many more people who use the trails owe them a tip of the hat.

They did trail maintenance and prepared to re-align a trail that is steep and highly erosive. The new route will be more stable and user-friendly for hikers and mt bikers.

To complete the task, the Friends of the Bluffs are encouraging more people to join some evening work parties.

The first two will be Tuesday April 24 and Wednesday May 2.

Join the group from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. to work off the stress of the day (and perhaps adjourn to the Rocket Market afterwards).

Meet at the Bernard/High Dr trail head and bring/wear hiking boots, work clothes, work gloves, and bring water.

Info: robertsd@wsu.edu

REI prompts flurry of volunteer work at recreation area sites

Popular recreation sites around Spokane will be getting a major spring facelift this weekend from volunteer efforts supported by grants totaling $20,000 from Recreational Equipment, Inc.

Projects the Spokane outdoor equipment store is supporting in partnership with local groups include:

Centennial Trail, Saturday 9 a.m. – The 20th annual Unveil the Trail event, supported by a $5,000 REI grant to the Friends of the Centennial Trail, taps volunteer groups to spruce up sections of the 39-mile paved trail along the Spokane River. Preregister to join a group and get a free lunch, 624-7188.

Mirabeau Point boat access, Saturday, 9 a.m. – A $10,000 REI grant to the Spokane River Forum funded an overhaul of the Spokane River access for rafts, canoes and kayaks fall. Volunters plan to finish the work and prepare the area for hydroseeding, which is being funded by the Spokane Canoe & Kayak Club.

Dishman Hills Natural Area, Sunday, 1 p.m. – Hundreds of volunteers already are signed up for the Earth Day work project to pick up litter, restore habitat, improve trails and other projects based out of Camp Caro in Spokane Valley.  The project is backed by a $5,000 grant to the Dishman Hills Natural Area Association. Preregister for t-shirt and food at www.rei.com/Spokane.

Centennial Trail cleanup set for Saturday

TRAILS – Volunteers will be gathering all along the Spokane River Centennial Trail on Saturday to wail on weeds, pick up litter and sweep it clean.

To join the group, and enjoy the free lunch, preregister by Friday for the 20th annual Friends of the Centennial Trail "Unveil the Trail" event.

REI has contributed $5,000 to cover the cost of park rental, giveaways, prizes, food and other event costs.

Info: 624-7188.

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.

Dishman Hills to get TLC; join the group

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WHAT: Dishman Hills Natural Area Cleanup, sponsored by REI.

WHEN: April 22, 1 p.m.-4 p.m.

WHERE: Dishman Hills Natural Area, Camp Caro, 625 S. Sargent Road, Spokane Valley

WHO: Community groups and volunteers needed.

About 340 helpers made a big difference last year in the appearance of this gem of habitat for trail hikers and wildlife in Spokane Valley.

Groups are organized for trail restoration and clean-up, noxious weed removal, tree planting and other projects.

REI and the Dishman Hills Natural Area Association organize the event and provide music and free food.

Preregister here for info and to make sure you get a T-shirt!

Dig deeper into the volunteer trail work with a full weekend project sponsored by the Washington Trails Association.

BLM reopens Rock Creek-Escure Ranch; seeks leads on vandalism

PUBLIC LANDS — A popular U.S. Bureau of Land Management recreation area about 20 miles south of Sprague has been reopened after the agency repaired about $5,000 in damages caused by vandals.

The Rock Creek/Escure Ranch suffered damage to fences and other facilities in a crime spree that occurred around March 15, said BLM recreation planner Steve Smith. A toilet was damaged, bridge signs were ruined and two kiosks were knocked, including one built by an Eagle Scout.

Report any tips that might lead to the arrest of the vandals to the BLM Spokane District Office, 1103 N. Fancher Road, Spokane, Washington, or call (509) 536-1200.

The Rock Creek management area, which straddles the Adams-Whitman county line, includes about 13,000 acres of grassland, basalt cliffs and glacial potholes managed as a sheep and cattle ranch for about 70 years before being acquired in 1999 by the BLM.

The area is popular with springtime hikers and mountain bikers. A network of roads and trails lace rangeland, leading to Wall Lake, Perch Lake, and Turtle Lake, as well Towell Falls on Rock Creek (pictured above).

The road that leads three miles to Towell Falls is ideal for hiking and biking at this time of year, before the road is open to motorized vehicle traffic in mid-April until a summer fire-season closure.

Rock Creek opens to fishing on June 2. The lakes are open year-round.

IF YOU GO

Towell Falls are an enjoyable destination 6-mile round trip from the ranch recreation parking area on an old ranch road. Be ready for ticks and aware that rattlesnakes are around.

Directions: From I-90 at Sprague, go about 12 miles south on state Highway 23 and at a sharp left turn in the paved highway, turn right onto graveled Davis Road. Continue about 6.5 miles south, staying on Davis Road past the Revere habitat management area. Turn left onto Jordan-Knott Road, cross the bridge over Rock Creek and continue a little more than 3 miles to the Escure Ranch access road, well-marked on the right.

From here, it's 2.5 miles in to the ranch houses and trailhead.

Vandalism forces temporary closure of BLM’s Escure Ranch, Rock Creek

PUBLIC LANDS — A popular U.S. Bureau of Land Management recreation area about 20 miles south of Sprague has been closed as the agency repairs about $5,000 in damages caused by vandals.

The Rock Creek/Escure Ranch suffered damage to fences and other facilities in a crime spree that occurred around March 15, said BLM recreation planner Steve Smith. A toilet was damaged, bridge signs were ruined and two kiosks were knocked, including one built by an Eagle Scout.

The BLM has been investigating the incident and officials say repairs should be complete so the area can by reopened by the weekend.

The Rock Creek management area, which straddles the Adams-Whitman county line, includes about 13,000 acres of grassland, basalt cliffs and glacial potholes managed as a sheep and cattle ranch before being acquired in 1999 by the BLM.

The area is popular with springtime hikers and mountain bikers. A network of roads and trails lace rangeland, leading to Wall Lake, Perch Lake, and Turtle Lake, as well Towell Falls on Rock Creek (pictured above).

The road that leads three miles to Towell Falls is ideal for hiking and biking at this time of year, before the road is open to motorized vehicle traffic in mid-April until a summer fire-season closure.

Rock Creek opens to fishing on June 2. The lakes are open year-round.

IF YOU GO

Towell Falls are an enjoyable destination 6-mile round trip from the ranch recreation parking area on an old ranch road. Be ready for ticks and aware that rattlesnakes are around.

Directions: From I-90 at Sprague, go about 12 miles south on state Highway 23 and at a sharp left turn in the paved highway, turn right onto graveled Davis Road. Continue about 6.5 miles south, staying on Davis Road past the Revere habitat management area. Turn left onto Jordan-Knott Road, cross the bridge over Rock Creek and continue a little more than 3 miles to the Escure Ranch access road, well-marked on the right.

From here (when the closure is lifted) it's 2.5 miles in to the ranch houses and trailhead.

South Hill Bluffs look spiffier tonight, thanks to volunteers

TRAILS — In the photo above, volunteers pose with the metal-recyclable garbage they picked up today from the South Hill Bluff below High Drive.

Bravo, and a special tip of the hat to the teenagers.
 
If this looks like a crew you'd like to join for the "firewise efforts" to protect the network of trails and the adjacent neighborhoods and for other worthu projects on the bluff, contact Diana Roberts, robertsd@wsu.edu.
 
Or check them out on their High Drive Bluffs Facebook Page.