You don’t always need to travel far for a taste of adventure during the snowy months. There’s something about a blanket of powder over even a semi-urban landscape that can make a walk through Spokane’s Riverfront Park or down along the Spokane River on quieter sections of the Centennial Trail feel like you’re in the middle of nowhere. Many popular summertime hikes, parks and other outdoor haunts can feel totally different buried in sound muffling, light sparkling snow, especially when the cold drives away the crowds. Try these ideas to inject a bit of adventure and exploration into your winter.

Go find winter. // Photo: Derrick Knowles

Go find winter. // Photo: Derrick Knowles

  1. Take a Walk along a Frozen River: Hike or, if the snow is deep enough, snowshoe along the dark, cold winter waters of a local river or creek. Look for ducks, geese, eagles, hawks, otters, coyotes, deer, rabbits and other wildlife along the way. Try the river trails in Riverside State Park, the Latah Creek loop around High Bridge Park or People’s Park downtown Spokane, the Centennial Trail, or one of many other local waterway hikes on snowy roads or trails around the region.
  2. Go on a Beer Hike: Throw on an urban hiking pack and head out on a trek with friends to your favorite brewery or pub. No-Li Brewhouse and River City Brewing and several other breweries have easy access off of the Centennial Trail in Washington and North Idaho.
  3. Find New Sledding Hills: When winter finally comes around to the lower elevations in the Inland Northwest like it has this year, all kinds of historic sledding hills seem to pop up out of the woodwork. Pay attention to where others are sliding down hills after a snow storm or ask longtime locals for recommendations of safe places near your neighborhood to throw down a sled and speed away on a white rollercoaster ride.
  4. Look for Frozen Waterfalls: There are a handful of cool little waterfalls close to Spokane that can make for a fun couple of hours or a full day of exploring. The unique ways waterfalls freeze up is always cool to see. Try the falls up Indian Canyon near downtown Spokane (Palisades/Indian Canyon Park), Hog Canyon Lake southwest of Cheney has a nice falls that’s on private property but within view of the BLM land along the lake, or make the drive down to Palouse Falls to see what cold temps do to this iconic cascade.
  5. Take a Hike by Headlamp: Load up extra clothes, lights, water, snacks and other beverages in the pack and take a headlamp hike around your neighborhood, local trail system or city parks and streets. The most common routes somehow seem much more magical when covered on foot in snowy, cold darkness.
  6. Sign Up for a Parks & Recreation Outing: Spokane Parks & Recreation has a full schedule of winter outings, including snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and other fun winter adventures that are inexpensive, fun and a great way to get out in the winter with other like-minded people.
  7. Wander around the Scablands: The channeled scablands around Cheney southwest of Spokane offer several chunks of public land where you can wander up, over and around strange rock formations and canyons and through pine forests dotted with ponds and lakes. Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge is a great starting point for exploring this local geological wonder and its wildlife, just make sure your ramble stays within areas open to hiking.
  8. Take a House-bound Dog for a Walk: If you start feeling like a caged animal come winter, imagine what those sad hounds that are kept locked inside feel like every day. Connect with a local animal shelter to find opportunities to help out or go ask an elderly neighbor or family member if you can take their dog out for a stroll. //