Weather outside is frightful, hiking trails are delightful

Pullman residents don’t have to let the snow, rain or fog keep them from exploring the Palouse.

While it may seem the only thing to do during the winter months is to hide beneath layers of blankets, there are plenty of ways to stay active outdoors no matter the weather.

Kamiak Butte, located north near the town of Palouse, attracts hikers during the summer months looking for beautiful views of the Palouse. However, the views can be reached on snowshoes or cross-country skis as well.

“The trail system is open for a half mile worth of cross-country ski trail. The rest of the trail is about 5 miles worth of hiking trails,” Kamiak Butte Park Ranger Todd Heitstuman said.

Although there is not an official snowshoeing program at Kamiak Butte, many people do explore the mountain after renting their own snowshoes, Heitstuman said.

For those wanting to try snowshoeing or cross-country skiing with professional guidance, University Recreation hosts programs throughout January and February. Outdoor Programs Coordinator Matt Wagner said cross-country skiing takes place at Field Springs State Park or Palouse Divide, depending on the conditions. The team snowshoes at Moscow Mountain, he said.

“Most of the programs, unless stated in the program description, are tailored toward beginners,” Wagner said. “The goal is to get students to try new things.”

UREC also offers a Thursday Lunch Cross-Country Ski Program on campus, which runs whenever Pullman gets enough snow. Wagner said the group always says, “If it snows, it goes!”

“There is a winter park set up on the golf course, so during the off-months whenever we get snow there are trails we use on the golf course,” Wagner said.

Or, Wagner said students could rent their own equipment at the Outdoor Recreation Center across the street from the SRC if they want to take a personal trip.

But for those not looking to venture outside the city limits, Pullman’s trails can make good midday breaks.

Recreation superintendent Kurt Dahmen said Pullman does not offer hikes or hillside recreation. However, he said the trail system goes through downtown Pullman and on the way to Moscow.

“We plow the trails and encourage people to use them year-round,” Dahmen said.

Views of the Palouse’s snow-covered terrain can be enjoyed by winter hikes or strapping on snowshoes for the first time.