Cross-country Skiing at Mt. Spokane

If you are looking for an outdoor winter activity for the entire family, then cross-country skiing might just be the thing. Spokane is blessed with very accessible groomed trails only 45 minutes away at Mt. Spokane State Park. The absence of ski lifts and lift tickets make cross-country skiing a little easier on the wallet than alpine skiing. For over a decade, Spokane Nordic has been offering an 8-week ski school for kids ages 5-15 called Nordic Kids on the 60 kilometers of trails at Mt. Spokane. The Nordic Kids ski program is very reasonably priced at $75 for the first child and only $70 for each additional child. Parents can choose to enroll their children in either two-hour morning sessions or two-hour afternoon sessions. The classes are taught by certified ski instructors and parents are encouraged to come out and ski with their children on the trails as an on the snow helper. Youth are separated into groups by age and skiing ability with opportunities for new skiers to join at every age group. Nordic Kids meets every Saturday in January and February.

Cross-country skiing is a great physical activity to build endurance, strength and balance at all ages. The trail network that Nordic Kids uses to teach lessons leads to warming huts and fire lookouts where kids can feel a sense of adventure and warm their hands by the fire. One unexpected bonus is the community of skiers and parents that make up Nordic Kids. It is not uncommon for parents to need a little help finding an errant mitt or ski pole, and at Nordic Kids there are always many parents around to help. If any more encouragement is needed to get your little ones on the trails, maybe you should share the little secret that every week’s lesson ends back at the Selkirk Lodge with hot chocolate and Oreo cookies for all the kids. Learn more and register online at Spokanenordic.org. (Todd Dunfield)

Ride the Gondola and Go Snowshoeing at Silver Mountain

“It’s common in Nordic countries for parents to put their toddlers, swaddled in a pram, outside for their noontime nap, even in the chill of winter,” says father and Spokane outdoor writer Aaron Theisen. “The thinking goes that exposure to cold outside air can stave off wintertime colds, in addition to getting little ones accustomed to wintertime temps.” If you have young children in good health, it’s virtually never too early to get them outside on your back or on their own two feet in the snow. Snowshoeing at Silver Mountain Resort makes it even more fun and easy with a ride on North America’s longest gondola to kick off your outing. Snowshoeing is basically hiking on top of the snow, which is made possible by oversized “shoes” that fit over your winter boots and help keep you from sinking down too deep in the snow. Most snowshoers use trekking poles with powder baskets or ski poles to help maintain balance while moving through the snow. From the top of the gondola at Silver Mountain Resort, you can enjoy up to three miles of snowshoe trails. Snowshoe rentals are available for $10 at the resort, or you can rent them ahead of time from Mountain Gear or REI. Check in with Silver’s ski patrol before you start and let them know when you return. Silvermt.com. (OTM)

Warm Up at 49 Degrees North’s On-Mountain Yurt

Yurts are portable, round tents that were traditionally covered with animal skins and used as an on-the-go home by nomadic herdsman of Central Asia. Modern-day yurts like the ones recently installed up at 49 Degrees North Mountain Resort near Chewelah are toasty-warm, cool weather-proof hangout spots for kids who need a break from the slopes and a treat to keep them going. One of the yurts at the bottom of the Sunrise Basin lift is home to Cy’s Café, which serves everything from cinnamon rolls and hot chocolate to soups, sausages and a variety of lunch, snack and beverage options. Kids often like to take breaks from the slopes and the Cy’s Café yurt is the perfect detour to enjoy the cozy atmosphere inside or take in the scenic view from a picnic table out on the deck on a sunny day. Ski49n.com. (OTM) //