Holidays can be a hectic time of year; time with family becomes a crazed rush to get from one event to another, or you find all that sitting around has everyone a little edgy. Making time to get outside can help relieve some of the holiday stress.
Snowshoeing, or simply hiking if there isn’t enough snow to warrant snowshoes, is a great way to slow things down, enjoy some time together, and be active and alive in the snow. It provides the perfect alternative to the fast-paced season. Walking through the fluid white landscape highlights the beauty of the season. Slowing down, mentally and physically, and taking time to enjoy the snow-covered cedars is a gift worth giving.
Break up the holiday rush by taking everyone out for a short romp in the winter woods. The bonus is that you can vent any holiday angst by lobbing snowballs at each other as you hike through the powder (assuming there is enough snow). While you may not need snowshoes for these hikes depending on the time of year and weather, carry them with you if you think there might be snowy and icy patches farther in.
The mountains beckon with their deeper snow, but the drive eats up time we don’t always have closer to the holidays. Here are a few close-to-town options that offer great views and won’t eat up your whole day:
- Antoine Peak Conservation Area. This is my favorite snowshoe hike because of the fantastic view that extend from Liberty Lake to Beacon Hill. Its proximity to town means you can do a short hike on your lunch break, or plan an impromptu outing with the family midday. There are two access points: one off E. Brevier Rd. (near Forker and Bigelow Gulch), and the other off E. Lincoln Rd. (from Trent take N. Campbell Rd.). The ascent is more gradual from the west side (Brevier). [Read more about hiking Antoine Peak here]
- Mica Peak Conservation Area. Although a little farther from town, the drive is not as far as you’d think. This hike offers a great escape and consistent snow, especially when lower elevations are lacking. From Highway 27 take E. Belmont Rd. From the parking area, take the left fork (which is an old service road) for wide open spaces and some good views. Take the right fork for a winter walk under the trees and along the creek.
- Dishman Hills: Iller Creek. Taking the left fork from the Iller Creek trailhead gives you a steeper climb and fantastic views. This section offers spectacular viewpoints in both winter and summer. The right fork has a more gradual ascent and can be a winter wonderland as you walk along the creek and under snow-laden boughs of pine and fir. A hike in the Iller Creek area can range from a short out-and-back to loops of 5 or more miles.
- Dishman Hills: Pinecliff Loop Trail. This trail runs through the Dishman Hills Natural Area and, at 1.4 miles, is perfect for families with younger kids. Start at Camp Caro (Appleway Blvd. to Sargent Rd.) and go through the breezeway of the lodge. Hike up the trail 0.3 mi. and take a right at the first fork. Follow the signs to do the entire loop or make it an out-and-back hike.
- Liberty Lake County Park. Access to the park is easy in winter (S. Lakeside Rd. to S. Zephyr Rd.) and the trail down by the creek is very mild, making it perfect for those with reticent kids or those just wanting a leisurely stroll. From the parking area head south through the campground, and follow the trails as it winds past the lake and up into the forest. There is no parking fee in winter months. It is also possible to make this a more strenuous hike by following the 8.5-mile Liberty Lake loop trail.
- Riverside State Park: Bowl and Pitcher. Enjoy the roar of the Spokane River and some beautiful scenery with an out-and-back hike of any length you choose or longer loops made possible by crossing the Centennial Trail to connect with one of several trails to the west. From the parking area at Bowl and Pitcher, cross the suspension bridge. Once across the river you can choose to go right or left. Either way you’ll find a nice hike. A Discover Pass is required. [Read more about hiking Bowl and Pitcher here.] //
Crystal Atamian gets teased by her family for wearing at least one layer more than everyone else. Cold-blooded or not, she still gets out at least once a week to enjoy the fluffy white stuff. She wrote about Craters of the Moon National Park in September.