The Trailhead: Trail Projects & Plans for May-June 2021

Holly Weiler

Funding Boost, Steptoe Butte, Volunteering, & More

Welcome to The Trailhead, where the first stop should be the kiosk with important information that affects recreationists in our area! This new column, replacing the long-running “Hike of the Month” column, will serve as a round-up of interesting projects and plans for trails in the Inland Northwest.

Here’s what trail and recreation related news we have for his spring and early summer, along with a recommended hike!

Steptoe Butte State Park Closure

Park will be closed for road and parking lot repairs for up to 16 weeks this spring. The exact closure window is dependent upon weather conditions, so be sure to check the state parks website before a spring visit.

Steptoe Butte State Park.
Steptoe Butte // Photo: Jon Jonckers

Great American Outdoors Act Funds Local Projects

Funding for the Great American Outdoors Act was signed into law August 2020 and will begin to address deferred maintenance needs on United States Forest Service (USFS) lands beginning this summer. Search the US Department of Agriculture website for a deeper dive into how this legislation will be enabling projects across the country. Some of the local projects slated to begin in 2021 include:

  • Funding for 1,500 miles of deferred maintenance on backcountry trails across both Washington and Oregon through “shared stewardship” partnerships with USFS partner organizations.
  • Trail maintenance on 110 miles of recreational trails within Hells Canyon National Recreation Area and the Eagle Cap Wilderness, along with the replacement of two 60′ bridges on the Snake River National Recreation Trail.
  • A combination project on South Fork Boulder Creek Road north of Highway 20 on the Colville National Forest, including relocation of the current road and conversion of the former roadbed to a year-round multi-use trail (snowmobile in winter; non-motorized access to Taylor Ridge Trail in summer).
  • Trail maintenance on 50 miles of trails near Bonners Ferry, Idaho.
  • A trail resurfacing project and tunnel improvements on the Route of the Hiawatha Trail near Lookout Pass.
  • Trail maintenance in the Mallard-Larkins and Upper St. Joe River areas.
  • Improvements to both vehicle access and trails within the Ross Creek Ancient Cedar Grove, including a boardwalk to help protect tree roots from soil compaction while granting better accessibility for all visitors.

New Trailhead for Antoine Peak Conservation Area

Spokane County Parks will be building a new trailhead for Antoine Peak Conservation Area’s Etter Ranch addition over the course of the summer. The new access point will be located less than 1/4-mile from Trent Ave. in the Spokane Valley. Until the new trailhead is complete, access to this portion of Antoine Peak is only available under special permit for the trail construction crews who are busy building the new connecting trail to the existing trail system. Check the Washington Trails Association and Evergreen East Mountain Bike Alliance websites for volunteer opportunities that will grant a sneak peek!

Photo of arrowleaf balsamroot on Antoine Peak.
Arrowleaf balsamroot blooms from Antoine Peak. // Photo: Holly Weiler

Northeast Washington Trails Website

Northeast Washington Trails has a new page devoted to ways non-motorized trail users can get involved with trail maintenance projects stretching from the Okanogan Highlands to the Idaho Panhandle. Lend a hand to one of several nonprofits offering volunteer opportunities across northeast Washington, or share a conditions report about a trail issue you discovered while exploring an area. Learn more at Newashingtontrails.com/volunteer.

Hike of the Month for the May-June 2021 issue:

Holly Weiler is a long-time contributor to Out There Outdoors. If you know where to look, you’ll find her deep in a morel patch this spring.

[Feature photo: Mountain wildflowers in northeast Washington overlooking the Pend Oreille River valley. // Courtesy of Kalispell Tribe.]

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