A snowshoe hike to the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) cabin at Mount Spokane State Park offers some of the best views available on the snowshoe trail system and a chance to consider some interesting park history.
The CCC had a spur camp in this location during the summers of the mid-1930s. Interpretive signage in the cabin explains that contract carpenters hastily constructed the original structure in preparation for a short dedication ceremony for the new camp in 1934. Short on time and money for materials, the camp superintendent requested funding from the State Park Committee to hire the project out to local carpenters, who completed the cabin in only a few days.
That part of the story seems ludicrous on the surface, but it has also been a boon to park visitors over the following years. Since CCC crews did not build the cabin, it was not dismantled along with the rest of the camp at the end of the CCC era. Instead, generations of park users have enjoyed the spot as a unique destination for year-round trips. At no time of the year is it more enjoyable than during a winter visit, thanks to the warm stove inside the historic structure.
Prepare for this trip by packing a picnic to enjoy at the mid-way point, along with the rest of the ten essentials. The route begins with a climb up Trail 131 to Bald Knob Picnic Area. Winter visitors need to keep in mind that the route varies slightly from the summer trail, as snowshoe hikers are not permitted on B-29 ski run. Whereas the summer trail follows the cat track for a short distance, winter hikers should instead look for the blue diamond markers on the trees denoting a winter-only path that parallels the ski run for a short distance, then crosses a creek and climbs steeply uphill to Bald Knob Campground. This location boasts an open-air picnic shelter, also worth a visit as a good place to stop and catch one’s breath.
To continue to the CCC cabin, hike to the campground entrance and cross the Summit Road. Note that during the winter months, the Summit Road is part of the park’s groomed snowmobile trail system. Watch for approaching snowmobiles, then cross the road to continue on Trail 130. This non-motorized winter route contours along the open hillside just below the road, and on a clear day the views extend from Post Falls to the Spokane Valley to the downtown Spokane area.
At a little over two miles, enter the signed Heritage Area of the park and climb a short hill to Beauty Mountain, home of the CCC cabin. Linger here to take in the history and enjoy that picnic, then retrace the route back to the SnoPark lot. Since the area around the CCC cabin is also open to cross-country snowmobile travel, hikers should park their snowshoes close to the building entrance. Two bathrooms are located a short walk downhill from the cabin. Winter hours at Mount Spokane are 8 a.m. until 10 p.m., so this hike is also an excellent evening trek under the moon.
4.5 miles round-trip and 900 feet of elevation gain (intermediate).
From Spokane, travel north to Mount Spokane Park Drive. Continue beyond the park entrance to the upper SnoPark lot at the intersection of Mount Spokane Park Drive and the Summit Road. Remember that a SnoPark permit is required for winter visits to Mount Spokane State Park. If purchasing a day-use SnoPark permit, a Discover Pass must also be displayed.
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Holly Weiler is a cross-county coach and the Eastern Region Coordinator for Washington Trails Association. She writes the Hike of the Month column in every issue of Out There.