January trip of the month: Snowshoe to Mount Spokane’s warming cabin
This popular snowshoe loop is great for beginners and children (with an adult, of course). A warming cabin about a mile from the parking lot makes it a great place to test out your snow legs.
Start at the snowshoe parking lot and head north, crossing the road and entering the woods. From there, stay left on the main road. This is the Mount Kit Carson Loop road (although it’s not truly a loop).
Hike along this road for about 1.3 miles until you reach a newly installed toilet and a charming cabin. The cabin and toilet will be to your left.
The cabin was completed in 2013 and has a fireplace and benches. Keep an eye out for historic signs scavenged from throughout the park. On Monday, Cris Currie, the president of the Friends of Mt. Spokane State Park group, pointed out the numerous historic amenities in the hut, including the original sign from Vista House, the cabin on the top of the mountain.
“The hut has become a motivation for people to go farther than they though they could,” he said.
The table and window trim are all made from a white pine that fell in the Nordic ski park. Woodcarvings along the top of the cabin depict the flora and fauna found on Mount Spokane.
From here, you have two options. Either return the way you came (total trip length about 2.5 miles) or continue along Trail 100. Here the hiking gets slightly harder and more interesting. Instead of walking along an old road, you’re on a true forest trail. Keep an ear out for pileated woodpeckers. These distinct-sounding birds usually make their homes in big, dead trees.
Stay on Trail 100 for the next 3 miles. The trail is easy to follow and well marked. When you come to the junction of Trail 100 and Trail 110, make sure to stay to the right. If you find yourself hiking uphill for a sustained period of time, you’ve gone the wrong way.
Trail 100 crosses several bridges built by Washington Trail Association volunteers. Keep an eye out for the tell-tale signs of logging. Some of the older stumps have deep notches in their sides. Loggers would place boards in these notches and stand upon the boards using their momentum to fell the tree. This was known as springboard logging.
There are numerous older ponderosa pines. Look for their distinctive orangish glow that some mistake for sunlight. Also, keep an eye out for hemlocks (droopy tops) and snowberries.
Eventually, you’ll come to the juncture of trail 100 and Trail 103. Turn right and head back to the parking lot on Trail 103.