It’s the end of February, a time most people have long abandoned their New Year’s Resolution but you can take a simple step to keep one promise to yourself: getting outdoors more often.
Instead of stressing about a bulging waistline or that looming deadline at work, put on a jacket, go outside and enjoy an area funded by the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program. Chances are there is one within your local area, and the Coalition is working hard to increase that number every day.
Spokane – Spokane River Centennial Trail
As a pedestrian and bike-friendly trail, users can follow the Spokane River from Riverside State Park onward to the Idaho border. Not only is this a fantastic trail for anything from an afternoon to weekend-long walk, but it is also an excellent example of how trails can revitalize old industrial lands. This pathway features multiple access points, and was created by combining converted roadways, former timber lands and old railway routes.
For a desert adventure hike down the old road in the Chief Joseph Wildlife Area, and continue on to the lush riparian area along the Grande Ronde River. If you are fortunate enough to see a wild turkey or Bighorn sheep, be sure to take a photo. Look out for blooming bluebells during the spring season, though stay on the old roads because it is rattlesnake season year round.
Ellensburg – Yakima River Canyon
If you want to experience one of the most scenic and biologically important areas in Washington, try visiting the Yakima River Canyon. Whether you are looking for a popular hiking trail, or opportunity to explore the area’s unique basalt cliffs Yakima provides a wonderful recreational opportunity.
Leavenworth – Camas Meadows Natural Area Preserve
Consisting of high-quality, lush native habitat the Camas Meadows is a geographical anomaly in the dry eastern Cascade mountains. Do not wander into the meadows, for they are too fragile to explore. Instead stay on the high crest to view rare ecological gems like the endangered Wenatchee mountain checkermallow.
Mount Vernon – Skagit Delta Wetlands
Whether you enjoy kayaking, hunting, or bird watching this critical wetland demonstrates when both fresh and saltwater estuaries come together. The area is home to a wide variety of wildlife from waterfowl and bald eagle to coyote and black-tailed deer. In the winter the area keeps a special treat, with nearly 27,000 snow geese, 300 tundra swans and about 125,000 ducks wintering in the habitat.
Vancouver – Flume Creek Habitat Area
Bordering the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge this habitat area has scenic views of mature upland forests, remnant old growth, and high densities of snags and downed logs. Due to its proximity to the refuge the site is one of the best places in southwest Washington for wildlife viewing, hiking and birdwatching. Visitors can view a variety of creatures from bald eagles and great blue herons to Columbian black-tailed deer and elk.
Port Angeles – Spruce Railroad Trail
As a smaller trail contained within the greater Olympic Discovery Trail, this historic hike skirts along the shores of Lake Crescent. One of the rare trails that permit mountain bikes in the Olympic National Park, it provides scenic views of the lake’s depth and surrounding ridgeline.
San Juan Island – Deadman Bay
Unlike it’s bleak name, this picturesque area provides prime access to the only sandy beach along the western shore of San Juan Island. Visitors can spend the day at the adjoining Lime Kiln State Park, or patiently wait for a glimpse of nearby whales.
Bellingham – Tennant Lake Park and Hovander Homestead Park
With a little something for everyone Lake Tennant helps unite history buffs and ecological enthusiasts alike. On the western shores of the lake, you can find Hovander Homestead Park full of the rich history of pioneer farming. Southward, within Tennant Lake Park, the boardwalk meanders through swamp and marsh habitats, where spectators can view wetland vegetation, birds and wildlife.