Walking in a Winter Wonderland

You don't need to be perfectly poised to enjoy the snowy outdoors

Spokane's Parks Department hosts dozens of snowshoeing events each year.
Spokane's Parks Department hosts dozens of snowshoeing events each year.

Sure, people who are good at balance like to spend their winters gracefully gliding down mountain sides on one or two polished pieces of wood, but what about those with a little less coordination?

Snowshoes might just be the solution for folks less interested in a mad adrenaline rush, and more interested in enjoying some fresh powder, cool air and maybe even a glass of wine.

Every winter, through March, the city of Spokane parks department puts on dozens of guided snowshoeing adventures throughout the area with snowshoes, trekking poles and transportation all included in the price.

The tours offer a way to get outside and try out snowshoeing without the startup costs of getting all your own gear. These guided excursions typically span from treks on Mt. Spokane in both the daytime and in the moonlight, to trips to 49 Degrees North, and hikes around lakes in the Colville National Forest.

All of the trips are geared at teens and older, and a few are only for adults, like the snowshoe treks on Mt. Spokane that are capped off with a wine tasting at Townshend Cellar on Green Bluff.

Each tour is geared to be accessible to entry-level snowshoers and typically includes downtime for lunches that participants are asked to bring with them, says Ryan Griffith, assistant recreation manager for Spokane Parks and Rec.

"If somebody is going to go out snowshoeing with us, they should be able to walk a leisurely one to one-and-a-half miles and come dressed for the weather conditions," Griffith says.

That means wearing synthetic materials that wick moisture from the body, avoiding cotton, which stays wet, and wearing plenty of layers so you can adjust as you get warm or cold, he says.

Groups are limited to about 12 people, plus two guides, and the tours fill up very quickly, so if something on the schedule catches your eye, register sooner than later, Griffith says.

"They do book up pretty quick — a couple weeks out we're looking pretty booked — so book early," Griffith says. "When we have snow here in town, it makes it all that much more exciting for people to get out and have fun."

Want to set out on your own? Turn to these local shops for snowshoe rentals:

Fitness Fanatics

At the trailer next to Selkirk Lodge, Mt. Spokane Nordic Area, $20 day rental 9 am-4 pm (includes poles), 922-6080

Mountain Gear

2002 N. Division St., Spokane, 325-9000, $25 for 24-hour rental, $50 for 72-hour rental, $10 day for poles


1125 N. Monroe St., Spokane, 328-9900, $18 first day, $8 every additional day (REI members), $30 first day, $16 every additional day (nonmembers), Poles $5 per day (members), Poles $10 per day (nonmembers)

Tri State Outfitters

6275 Sunshine St., Coeur d'Alene, 208-772-0613, $30 for 24-hour rental (includes poles)

Vertical Earth

1323 E. Sherman Ave., Coeur d'Alene, 208-667-5503, $20 for 24-hour rental

Rental reservations recommended for all retailers, particularly during holiday peak season. Reservations for REI must be made in-store.

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About The Author

Samantha Wohlfeil

Samantha Wohlfeil covers the environment, rural communities and cultural issues for the Inlander. Since joining the paper in 2017, she's reported how the weeks after getting out of prison can be deadly, how some terminally ill Eastern Washington patients have struggled to access lethal medication, and other sensitive...