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“All Out” effort connects people with outdoor pursuits

Taking that first step into an outdoor life-sport such as snowshoeing, mountain biking, paddling and fly fishing is less intimidating with the help of experienced “ambassadors” from clubs and agencies.

The Spokane region is rich with assistance to tap.

Good examples are among the two dozen resource groups and agencies that turned out for the All Out Trail Celebration organized by the Spokane REI store last Saturday at Kendall Yards.

“Our goal is to connect outdoors-minded people with the organizations and events that can help them live their best outdoor life in the Inland Northwest,” said store spokeswoman Carol Christensen.

This is not a complete list of outdoor groups and resources in the area, but the following short blurbs on those represented Saturday hints at the possibilities. Many of them have notable events this month.

49 Degrees North was the only one of the several regional ski resorts at the open house, and they were offering some unique deals to help people explore new outdoors sports.

“Our ‘5 for $25’ deal, good through February, lets people pay one fee and try out any or all of five sports on the mountain: classic Nordic skiing, skate skiing, Hok skiing, snow biking and snowshoeing,” said Doug Elledge, Nordic Center director. “That’s an $80 value for $25.”

Family ski weekends offer kids under age 18 a free trail pass and rentals when accompanied by a parent or guardian on Feb. 11-12 and March 18-19.

“We may be the only ski area around that includes access to the Nordic skiing area with the alpine area season pass,” he said, noting that some skiers like to change gears occasionally. Info:

Spokane Canoe & Kayak Club organizes paddling classes for touring and whitewater and schedules group outings. The next activity is a kayaking roll practice sessions at the Valley YMCA pool starting March 5. Canoeing and kayaking classes start in June.

A special event for kids to try a variety of paddling craft is set for Aug. 5 on Lake Spokane at Nine Mile Recreation Area. Info:

Dishman Hills Conservancy members, working since the 1960s to conserve open spaces and facilitate outdoor recreation in the Spokane Valley, regularly lead hikes into conservancy areas. The next group hike is Feb. 11 in the Glenrose area.

On the to-do list when the snow melts is assembling volunteers to build a trail in the 160-acre Glenrose Unit. Work session are set for March 22, April 1 and April 9. Info:

Spokane City Parks and Recreation offers several outdoors outings or lessons every week, including winter sports such as cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. Coming up is an excellent snowshoeing trek at Sherman Pass, covering nearly 6 miles. Info:

Spokane County Parks Conservation Areas have become popular destinations for hikers, snowshoers, skiers, bikers and nature watchers. On the front burner this year, depending on whether state funding comes through, is the development of the trail plan proposed for the Mica Peak Conservation Area. The trail plan was just posted online this week. Info:

Hobnailers Hiking Club schedules hikes on Sundays and Wednesdays along with other activities. Winter hikes tend to be close to Spokane, but the range expands starting in spring. Hobnailer trips have ranged as far as New Zealand. Many in the group are elderly hikers who have logged thousands of miles on foot. Info: Virginia Danke, (509) 534-1100.

Spokane Mountaineers have been teaching skills and leading people outdoors for more than a century. The group has sections geared to hiking, biking, paddling, climbing and other sports. The popular Mountain School as well as the club’s Backpacking School are gearing up to start in March. Info:

Hike It Baby, a group that gets moms and dads outdoors in with their young children, has groups across the country. The Spokane group has grown from a couple hundred three years ago to nearly 3,000 families, said Mary Beth Bryant.

The group’s values include leave no hiker behind, develop community, no judgment, respect nature and inspire self-care. The local group is developing an online trail guide with information geared to families – “Like if there’s a restroom available and when it’s open.” Info:

Spokane Fly Fishers organize monthly programs, conservation work parties and fishing outings during the year. The biggest outreach effort is the Fly Fishing School, which will begin its 35th annual eight-week session on Feb. 16.

It’s the region’s best bargain in learning all aspects of the sport with the bonus of learning rubbing casting elbows with members who know where and how to fish the local waters and beyond. Info:

Spokane Bicycle Club, which organizes weekly rides and monthly programs, is also helping organize May as Bike Month, which is an expansion of the Bike to Work Week effort in recent years.

“We want to encourage people to ride their bikes to work as well as everywhere else – on errands, to meetings, to the park – wherever,” said club member Sally Phillips. Info:

Evergreen East, the Eastern Washington chapter of the Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance, will be scheduling instruction clinics and organizing trail projects in areas such as Beacon Hill in Spokane, says Spokane organizer Dan Wilson. Info:

Emde Sports is organizing several multisport events again this year and continues to offer cycling and triathlon coaching and classes.

The popular Wonder Woman Triathlon is being changed to the Tri & Du It triathlon and duathlon for women and men on July 30. Other events include Valley Girl Triathlon on July 9, Strides for Stronger Bones 5K run on July 29 and the Inland Northwest Cyclocross Series in October and November. Info:

Ride Dynamics owner Kyle Springer offers mountain bike skills instruction, basic and advanced, with private individual or group lessons and rides. Info:

John Wayne Trail friends group is promoting development of the rail trail across Eastern Washington. People who become members are being entered in a drawing for a New Belgium cruiser bike. Info:

SpokeFest, Spokane’s largest bicycling event of the year, is set for Sept. 10 with rides for every ability. Organizers also promotes a neighborhood Spokane Summer Parkways! event and several Kidical Mass rides. Info:

Spokane River Centennial Trail’s friends group works to improve the fabulous 40-mile route from Nine Mile Recreation Area to the Idaho state line, mostly following the Spokane River. This local gem should never be underestimated for its universal appeal.

“There are a lot of moving parts right now,” said Loreen McFaul, executive director, noting that downtown reroutes and other improvements are in the works. An updated trail map is expected to be printed this spring. Info:

The Scotchman Peaks Wilderness friends group, founded to promote wilderness designation for more than 80,000 acres north and east of Lake Pend Oreille, also organizes guided hikes and activities in north Idaho. A class on reading animals tracks is coming up. Starting in May, the summer series offers 14 guided hikes through October. Info:

Mount Spokane State Park’s friends group works to improve recreation at the state’s premier year-round park with extensive winter recreation. Info:

Riverside State Park Foundation works to improve recreation at the state’s expansive park next to Spokane, including the Spokane River Centennial Trail and the Little Spokane Natural Area. Info: Search for Riverside State Park Foundation, as new website is being developed.

Farragut State Park, one of several Idaho parks in the Panhandle Region, has plenty of year-round recreation options along the shores of Lake Pend Oreille east of Athol. The cross-country skiing trails, which were in stellar condition during the cold snap in late December and early January, were getting a little thin on snow this week, but the trails groomed for snow bikes were in very good shape, rangers said. Info:

The Lands Council, an environmental group, works to preserve and revitalize Inland Northwest forests, water, and wildlife. The group organizes hands-on projects, including planting habitat restoration plots along Hangman Creek. Info:

Idaho Conservation League is involved in a variety of conservation projects and issues to maintain Idaho’s stature as a great outdoors state. Trail work and other partnership projects with the Forest Service are planned this year.

The group’s Sandpoint office also organizes outings, including hikes that range from easy to tough in order to visit some of the choice wild areas in North Idaho. Info: is the local chapter of a national group seeks to increase the participation of women and girls in outdoor activities. (See sidebar.) Info: or email

Spokane Women on the Fly focuses on getting women involved in fly fishing and fly tying. Info:

Washington Trails Association links hikers to hiking trails through its website and organizes trail building and maintenance projects on some of the region’s best routes. What better way to know a trail and than to wield a pulaski for a day or two with a fine group of trail lovers? Info:

Trail Maniacs is a group of hikers, runners and mountain bikers who like to push their limits with training and races on the region’s trails. A snowshoe-fat bike race is set for Saturday at Silver Mountain. Info:

REI stores, including Spokane’s, have weekly classes and many events geared to teaching the public outdoors skills and where to apply them. See the calendar and sign up online. Info:

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