This is one of the prettiest stretches of the Columbia Plateau Trail that you will find. Numerous ponds, abundant wildlife and areas that you pass through that have a sheer rock wall on either side. This section of the trail is in the northern most end of Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge. The trick on this stretch is figuring out where to park. You can access the trail off of Cheney-Plaza road just before the overpass bridge. There is an access road and a really wide turnout area that doesn't block the gate but I got a bad surprise in the mail after parking there one time. A overzealous park employee ticketed me even though I wasn't blocking anything. They threw the ticket out, but, it is a possibility. You can park on the Cheney-Spangle trailhead and walk the mile between to start or park on the other side of the bridge where there is a wide shoulder. If you park at the trailhead a Discover Pass is required. The trail is unpaved but mostly level with fine gravel, not the big rocks you find on other stretches. People run, walk and ride horses and bike on this section. Coming down onto the trail you ae greeted by a large pond on either side. These are quite often filled with geese, ducks and a Blue Heron or two. I have seen owls, hawks and Cormorant here as well. I once came face to face with a coyote, we both hadn't been paying attention and were both surprised. We each went along our way. Elk, deer and moose play in these woods. On this trip the only 4 footers that I saw were a dog playing with his owner and a really interesting American Red squirrel that posed for a photo. Swans, Canadian geese and some ducks dotted the numerous ponds on this stretch. In the spring and early summer these ponds are jam packed with new life, so many really interesting not often seen water fowl choose them for nesting. 3 3/4 miles from the entrance at Cheney-Plaza there is a bathroom complete with hitching post to tie your horse to if you brought one. If you're wanting a little less mileage then the pond about 2 miles or so down the trail from the entrance is a good place to turn around and head back. It has a bench and information about the area on podium type signage.
Tuesday, November 23, 2021
It is always a thrill for me to be the first one to put tracks in new snow. Being the first just seems so special. It was a wet but wonderfully quiet treck down the Columbia Plateau going from the Cheney Spangle trailhead back toward Fish Lake. The snow fell in spurts and some of the waterfalls are now trickling water again. There is a special place where little streams of water trickle between rocks making you think of a tropical forest, although the white stuff on the ground tells you different. The trail from this trailhead all the way back to Fish Lake is wide and paved and there is a stream on either side that can overflow the trail during heavy rain or spring runoff. For now it is contained. The fall colors are still vibrant and when up against the snow make for a real feast for the eyes.
Monday, November 22, 2021
Went walking in Riverside State Park at the Bowl and Pitcher. This is always beautiful no matter the season and yesterday was no exception. The bridge over the river seems to beckon you to come explore. The first measurable snowfall had left a little white on some of the paths through the forest and the water was back up to roaring down the riverbed. On the last visit I had been able to walk out to the center of the river as the water was down so much. The bed that I walked on the last time was under water this time, as it should be. I always wish there was a way for photos to have scent as the wonderful rich clean spicy smell that is a damp forest adds so much to the experience. Walking really is an all senses experience.
Wednesday, November 10, 2021
If you, like I hadn't, haven't been to Cat Tales on highway 2 in Mead for years its time to go again. I made the trip out there with my mom, sister and her 3 little girls today. There are so many tigers there now. Most are the classic black and orange but they also have a rare white tiger. The white tiger decided to roll around and enjoy a good back scratch, fun to see. The single lioness that is there looked regally at us from her enclosure. So many different color of foxes playfully yipping at each other through the fences. A single black bear trotted up and down in back of his fence. Cougars, lynx, bobcat and wolves are in residence. This is the only zoo anywhere near Spokane and well worth the trip to see these wonderful animals up close.
Monday, November 8, 2021
What a gorgeous November day to be out on the trail. The Columbia Plateau Amber Lake trail head is located about about 11 miles south of Cheney via Mullinix Rd and West Pine Springs rd. It is well marked for the turn onto Pine Springs. The lake is small and down in a dip but very picturesque. Tall pine trees and sheer rocks surround it. When I was there a herd of cattle had made their way down to the shore on the other side. This is a no gas motor lake but there were a lot of people fishing and there is a boat launch. The trailhead requires a Discovery Pass to park in the lot but does have a bathroom. The trail travels southwest from the trailhead, it is large stone gravel and gravel. Ponds, trees and native grasses line the route. Some areas you pass through sheer rock outcroppings. The land on either side is ranch land. One large cattle ranch sits among the hills with lots of barns and cattle. The trail crosses over Pine Springs road twice within a mile between the crossings. I go out on the trail and when coming back take the road at the first crossing as it gives a closer look at the Ranch and some up and down for a different view point when goin along. This is not a loop and you decide how many miles you have time for or just feel like doing and then turn back. There are mile markers as you go along.
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