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Trip Report    

Cross-country Ski - Mt. Spokane State Park

Cross Country Skiing at Mt. Spokane State Park is a perennial on my annual Ski Bucket List. Why? Panoramic mountain range views and great ski trails. Mt. Spokane Nordic Ski Park is a skier's delight.

  • Snow and ice on road
  • Spokane Nordic Ski Association is a very well run organization that works directly with Mt. Spokane State Park to make it one of the best Nordic Ski areas in WA State. This ski park is about  a one hour drive from downtown Spokane. The drive  to the park is very reasonable, and the roads are in good shape for winter driving. An all wheel drive car or one with traction tires is a must as Mt. Spokane Nordic Selkirk Lodge parking lot sits at about 4,200 ft. in elevation.

    Mt. Spokane Nordic Ski area is large with 11 ski junctions and about 60 km worth of trails. Each ski junction has  3-4 trail choices leaving from it, as well as a large ski map so one always knows where they are. Throughout the ski park one will also find emergency kit tarps attached to poles.

    As Mt.Spokane is is over 5,000 feet in elevation, it has its own weather. Be prepared for sunshine, cloudy days, gentle falling snow, or  a windy snowstorm. Come prepared for a variety of weather conditions during your visit.

    The state grooms this park on Wednesday-Sunday nights. So expect groomed trails from Thursday to Monday. Expect ungroomed trails and no crowds on Tuesday and Wednesday.

    Spokane area lodging: Lots of reasonably priced rooms in the winter months. VRBO, motels, hotels, you name it. My preferred Lodging Locations: Near downtown, South Hill

    Locations nearer the road to Mt. Spokane are: North Spokane or near Argonne/Millwood off of I-90.

    There is no lodging or food service at Mt. Spokane Selkirk Lodge.

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Junction 3Mt. Spokane is a groomed ski park. It requires a WA State Snow Park Pass and Groomed Sticker. Forest Rangers and Nordic Ski patrol regularly check for proper permits on cars.

Mt. Spokane Nordic  is most crowded on weekends w/lots of skiers and  ski classes for little kids. The Nordic parking lot fills up fast on the weekends. Arrive early. Arrive midweek to find solitude.

As it is a groomed ski park almost everyone has classic track and skate skis.  On the weekends most of the crowds can be found in and around Selkirk Nordic Lodge and on the trails leading up to Junction 5. Junctions and trails in the far off corners of the park are not crowded at all.

There are three warming areas at Mt. Spokane: Selkirk Lodge above the parking lot, the darling Nova Warming Hut at Junction 3, and the small Tripp's Knob Warming Hut at the far north end of the park, beyond Junction 11. All come equipped with fireplace, logs and fire starter. 

We arrived on a Tuesday with our BC touring skis and mountaineer backpacks, knew the park would not be groomed and there would be very few other skiers. Using the weather as our guide we spent the first cloudy grey day skiing the trails out past junction 8 to the Upper Outer Limits to take in the breathtaking views of the Idaho and Canadian Mountain Ranges. Our BC touring skis enabled us to ski the ungroomed trails though we did have to contend with some tree litter. During our 13 mile ski on Day One, we ran into only one other skier, Pieter, an official Spokane Nordic Trail Mountain  Host whom we run into every year. He always gives us good trail advice.

On Day Two we had blue sky and sunshine. Mt. Spokane was a bit more crowded; we saw about 4 other skiers besides our group of 8. The sunshine meant this would be the best and only day of our 3 day visit to take a ski tour out to Tripp's Knobb beyond Junction 11, a 15 mile loop ski.  The trails out to Tripp's Knob offer magnificent mountain range views into Idaho, Montana, and Canada,  and no one else on the trail. Again, using our BC touring skis and mountaineer packs we started from Selkirk Lodge and headed east to Junction 8 where the real fun started. The Upper Outer Limits 4.5 km Trail had several inches of snow with a crusted top which made maneuvering downhill with our BC skis a bit more challenging. But we knew that at the end of this trail the easier and flatter 4 km Lower Outer Limits Trail in Idaho awaited us. At the end of Lower Outer Limits we took the .4 trail to Tripps Knob Warming Hut and outhouse. This 15 mile loop ski took us about 7.5 hours with rest stops and lunch  included. Fortunately, we had very good weather. This is not a ski tour one does in poor weather as it is too long, too far away, and there would be no panoramic views.

Day 3 was snowing and blowing. The groomed trails from the night before now had 3+ inches of fresh new snow. Metal edged skis were required once again as our track skis would have been too light-weight to use. We cut our day short due to poor weather conditions.

Showing up at Mt. Spokane with steel edged touring skis and backpacks is an anomaly. Local skiers, the few we saw, made comments as they are not used to seeing this type of gear. And most skiers do not ski out to Tripp's Knob as it is so far north, an all day journey if you are with a group.

A few of us were  disappointed that the weather did not cooperate on Thursday and allow us to ski using  our faster groomed track skis.  Next year I plan to have our group arrive later in the week so we can take advantage of the groomed trails.

My recommendation: Ski Mt. Spokane Nordic Ski Park and see for yourself why it is on my annual ski list, bring both your groomed/track  skis along w/your BC Touring Skis, and arrive mid to late in the week to take in a gorgeous ski park with very few other skiers.

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