Thursday, May 26, 2022
May 26, 2022

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After a stifling summer, fall brings crisp air, sharp colors

The hiking is great, but watch out for hunters — and bull moose

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SPOKANE — It was, in my experience, an oppressive summer: The heat. The smoke. A looming second round of COVID-19 and all the associated acrimony and suffering.

For me, losing access to the outdoors was an emotional and physical challenge. For long periods this summer, my job as an outdoors editor felt pointless.

And yet, this month has reminded me of the joy, beauty and existential importance of the outdoors.

Here are a few great areas to check out. Each offers resplendent foliage, expansive views, winter-aware wildlife and crisp air.

A note on fall hiking: The days are shorter, with the sun setting by 6:20 p.m. And while it can be warm during the day, temperatures plummet at night.

And it’s fall, which means many animals are mating and more likely to be aggressive. (Beware of bull moose in particular.) Also, big-game hunting seasons are open, so wear orange and plan your adventures accordingly.

Close to Spokane

Riverside State Park trails downstream along the Spokane River from the Bowl and Pitcher (Discover Pass required) can’t be beat, and don’t forget about a stroll through Spokane’s Finch Arboretum.

The Liberty Lake Regional Park offers great access to close-to-town nature.

The Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge is full of pit-stopping migratory birds and doting trumpeter swans this month. The refuge charges an entry fee of $3 per car.

The 518-acre Community Forest in Post Falls boasts new, well-marked and easily accessed trails. Or drive to Coeur d’Alene and hike the tried-and-true Tubbs Hill.

A bit afield

Immerse yourself in the larches at Lookout Pass off I-90. There are plenty of hiking options here, whether it’s St. Regis Lake, or over the border in Montana (where the larches are thicker) at Hub or Cliff lakes.

Drive to northern Idaho and head up the Pack River road. From there, hike into the Selkirk Mountains before the snow flies. Great hikes include Harrison Lake (popular), Beehive Lakes or Chimney Rock.

North of Spokane is Mount Spokane’s trail system. Mountain ash and aspen are changing colors, said Holly Weiler, the eastern Washington coordinator for the Washington Trails Association. But she warned hikers to beware of a bull moose spotted recently on Mount Spokane.

Or head west to Sherman Pass and venture up to the Kettle Crest.

A day or more

Washington’s Mount Rainier or Montana’s Glacier national parks are world-class destinations for a reason — and never more so than in October.

Or consider the numerous trails in the North Cascades, but beware: The weather can turn on a dime.

To beat the crowds, head to Montana’s Bitterroot Valley and check out the trails into the Bitterroot National Forest via a number of canyons.

Blodgett or Mill Creek canyons offer great trails winding their way underneath early 1,000-foot cliffs.

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