A lackluster Northwest winter is rapidly turning to spring, which means the time to hike is now. With hundreds of trail miles waiting to be explored on our local public lands, there is no excuse to stay indoors. When checking out Spokane County’s Conservation Futures properties; state parks; or our surrounding state, BLM and National Forest lands, the best way to learn about an area is to join up with other hikers who know the trails. Check out these local hiking organizations to benefit from the collective knowledge of those who have been there before.

The Backpacking Club: Founded in March of 1994, the Backpacking Club is a cooperative catering to adults and promoting the enjoyment of nature through hiking and backpacking. Nonmembers are welcome to join one day-hike before becoming a member. In the spring, one is likely to find the club preparing for the upcoming backpack season by hiking Quartzite Mountain on the Colville National Forest. More info: www.backpackingclub.macwebsitebuilder.com or 509-467-8099.

Exploring the Inland NW with the Sierra Club: Formed in May 2014, this Meetup Group is affiliated with the Upper Columbia River Group of the Sierra Club. The group shares information about the Sierra Club and local environmental issues while exploring trails around Spokane; however, you don’t need to be a Sierra Club member to join the group for a hike and ensuing discussion. Look for opportunities to learn about the ecology of the Spokane River on a hike through Riverside State Park this spring. More info: www.meetup.com/Exploring-the-Inland-Northwest-with-Sierra-Club or LoneStar4@aol.com.

Friends of Scotchman Peaks Wilderness: Founded in January 2005, the Friends are celebrating a decade of working to protect the rugged and roadless Scotchman Peaks area as Wilderness. If you are interested in learning more about why this 88,000 acre area spanning the Idaho/Montana border is worthy of official protection or if you just want to get to know the area better, join one of the group’s guided hikes. This spring will find members perched atop the 7,009 foot namesake peak, hanging out with mountain goats while gazing down on Lake Pend Oreille. More info: www.scotchmanpeaks.org or 208-290-1281.

Hobnailers: Formed in 1951, the Hobnailers promote fellowship and an interest in conservation issues through hiking. Anyone who enjoys walking and socializing is welcome to join a hike, typically held on Sundays and Wednesdays from March through October. One of the club’s favorite spring hiking destinations is Escure Ranch and the impressive creek cascades of Towell Falls. More info: www.Inlandnorthwesttrails.org/events/Hobnailers.asp or 509-487-7366.

Inland Northwest Hikers: Formed around five years ago, this Meetup Group is led by hiking enthusiasts who enjoy sharing their local trail knowledge with others. The group offers a wide range of hikes, asking participants to self-select events to match ability level. In the spring, find hikers from the group wildlife watching at Steamboat Rock and nearby Northrup Canyon. More info: www.meetup.com/Inland-Northwest-Hikers.

MsAdventures: This Meetup Group is open to women of all ages and ability levels. The group formed in 2012 and is all about camaraderie and fostering friendships among the diverse women in the group. Join a hike or other outdoor activity, including a spring outing to check out the best wildflowers on the Palouse at Kamiak Butte. More info: www.meetup.com/Ms-Adventures-of-the-Inland-Northwest or karenwithani@aol.com.

Spokane Mountaineers: Started by a group of librarians in 1915, the Spokane Mountaineers is celebrating its centennial this year. In addition to organizing a wide range of outdoor activities, the club is dedicated to education through its annual schools and conservation of public lands. Non-members may join up to three events before membership is required. This spring, join the club to learn about the Dream Trail while exploring the Dishman Hills Natural Area. More info: www.spokanemountaineers.org or hiking@spokanemountaineers.org.

Washington Trails Association: Founded in 1966, WTA doesn’t lead group hikes, but they do lead volunteer trail work outings both locally and across the state, and many of those trips include quite a bit of hiking. WTA fosters an active hiker community via an interactive website, and the group engages in hiker advocacy and offers education and youth outreach. If you enjoy our local hiking trails, consider dedicating a day this spring to a WTA trail maintenance or trail-building work party. You can also share your most recent hike with others via a trip reports feature at wta.org. Join other hikers and WTA volunteers in action this spring at Liberty Lake County Park and Iller Creek Conservation Area. More info: www.wta.org or hweiler@wta.org. //