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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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No-fee cross-country ski trails are groomed and open in Spokane

UPDATED: Sat., Feb. 16, 2019

After clearing their sidewalk and driveway of last night’s snowfall, Chris and Melissa Kehr cross-county ski around Cannon Hill Park, Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2019. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)
After clearing their sidewalk and driveway of last night’s snowfall, Chris and Melissa Kehr cross-county ski around Cannon Hill Park, Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2019. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)

When Rick Eichstaedt checked the Spokane Nordic Ski Association’s website Saturday morning, he decided that cross-country skiing wouldn’t happen at Mt. Spokane because the grooming machines were down for repair.

But 10 minutes away from his house was another option.

Indian Canyon Golf Course opened Tuesday for cross-country skiing, thanks to enough snow and low temperatures.

Spokane’s Parks and Recreation Department began grooming the trails in 2017 as part of a pilot program and found enough success to continue it, as long as the weather cooperates.

This year, the parks department expanded the trails at Indian Canyon, said Ryan Griffith, outdoor recreation supervisor for the department. There’s a 1.8-mile intermediate trail and a .93-mile beginner trail.

Eichstaedt brought his 5-year-old daughter, Violet, to ski with him at Indian Canyon on Saturday. He said it’s nice to get a quick ski in before noon, even if the quality isn’t what one would find at Mt. Spokane.

“It’s nice not to drive an hour to Mt. Spokane,” he said. “When it’s covered in snow, you almost wouldn’t know it’s in the middle of a golf course.”

Eichstaedt is from Minnesota, where it’s common for golf courses to groom trails for cross-country skiing in the winter.

Indian Canyon is one of the few places near downtown Spokane to go for cross-country skiing. Dwight Merkel Sports Complex, at 5701 N. Assembly St., also has a groomed trail. There are no fees for either of the locations.

Yvonne Fisher looped the track at the Dwight Merkel complex with a group of people with developmental disabilities called the Blue Waxers. Fisher volunteers for the program through the Spokane Parks Therapeutic Recreation Services.

She said she usually goes to Mt. Spokane, but in addition to the groomers being down, hundreds of young skiers are using the course for the Mt. Spokane Nordic Cup this weekend.

Fisher was happy that the parks department had other options.

“This is a huge asset to the city,” Fisher said of the groomed trails at the Dwight Merkel Sports Complex.

Riverside State Park also has groomed 4.5 miles of trail, Griffith said. In addition to cross-country skiing, “fat bikes,” which are bikes with large tires meant for snow, are allowed on the trail. A Discovery Pass is required to park there, so it isn’t entirely free.

Griffith recommended Mountain Gear and Fitness Fanatics for cross-country ski gear rental needs.

Parking for Indian Canyon’s cross-country ski trails is located near Whittier Park, 3405 W. Hartson Ave.

For updated information on whether trails are open and groomed, call (509) 363-5418.

“We’ll get out and groom as long as we have snow,” Griffith said. “We want to get people out and enjoy the outdoors in the winter.”

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