Among the many things worth giving thanks for today, Spokane’s robust network of trails and natural spaces should be high on the list.
That’s the impetus behind a new trail map featuring 10 hikes in the Spokane area created by the Inland Northwest Land Conservancy.
“It’s a way for us to announce what is right at our backdoor,” said Todd Dunfield, INLC’s community conservation program manager.
The River to Ridges Trail Map features 10 hikes close to Spokane. The hikes were selected specifically for their proximity and ease of access. Several of the hikes highlight the importance of conserving the region’s natural areas.
The Antoine Peak and Saltese Flat hikes, for example, offer clear views of creeping development, acting as a subtle advertisement for what INLC and other local groups do to preserve natural space.
“Our hope is that the people who use these trails will be active stewards … and be forward thinking,” Dunfield said. “We live in a beautiful place because we saved places like Big Rock.”
The maps cost $5 and are sold at Mountain Gear, REI, Main Market Food Co-Op and Northwest Outdoors.
“A lot of these hikes you can both take in the beauty of nature and … look out and see all of the lights of homes being built in the foothills,” Dunfield said.
With less than 10 percent of Spokane County designated as public land, and with the region’s population growing, this is a pressing issue.
INLC is tackling the developing issue through the Olmstead 2.0 process. Modeled after the 1907 Olmsted Plan, Olmstead 2.0 hopes to coordinate conservation and recreation efforts between agencies and user groups throughout the region.
“As you use this map to guide your explorations, we invite you to dream about the potential for even more connection and conservation of lands in Spokane County,” the map introduction states.
Dunfield emphasized that he and INLC are not against development, instead hoping it can be done in a sustainable way that preserves natural spaces for future generations.
All that aside, the map highlights the trails and natural areas in our town in an easy and accessible format.
The 10 maps provide detailed trail information, including elevation gain and distance, as well as parking pass information and other logistic issues. The map is made on waterproof and tear-resistant paper featuring photography from Craig Goodwin, Ben Tobin and Jon Jonckers. Easily folded, Dunfield hopes it’s the kind of the thing out-of-town guests, recent transplants or lifelong Spokanites grab on their way out the door.
For Catherine Henze, a relatively recent Spokane transplant, the map has helped her and her partner, Chris Larson, explore their new home. For Larson, who has ovarian cancer, the map also provides invaluable information about what to expect on each hike. Because her energy varies tremendously, knowing exactly what to expect from the hike is key, Henze said.
In a city surrounded by outdoor recreation offerings, the map helps them narrow down their choices.
“I don’t want 101 trails to pick through. Here they are, 10 really easily accessible (ones),” Henze said. “Because of the map, we’ve gotten out more.”
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