Spokane, WA: Best Wildlife Trails
It might not be Yellowstone, but the Inland Northwest provides plenty of opportunities to view some of the continent’s most majestic wildlife.
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Black bears woke up early this year after a mild winter. Catch them foraging in riverside meadows along the Rapid River trail west of Riggins. [miguelb / flickr]
The Inland Northwest is the only place in the lower 48 where one has a chance to see the elusive woodland caribou. Although the resident herd of 30-40 animals spends most of its time in neighboring Canada, it sometimes wanders south across the border onto the Kaniksu National Forest. The Long Canyon Trail, passing through virgin forest in northern Idaho’s Selkirk Mountains, is your best bet to catch a glimpse of these endangered beasts. [Bruce McKay / flickr]
Every winter, hundreds of bald eagles visit Lake Coeur D’Alene to fish for spawning kokanee salmon. Catch the iconic birds from November through February on the Tubbs Hill trail just outside of downtown Coeur D’Alene. [Bureau of Land Management / flickr]
Grizzlies have expanded their range into much of the Inland Northwest in recent decades, and may now be found in parts of the Selkirk, Cabinet, Bitterroot, and Purcell Ranges. The trail up Northwest Peak, a stone’s throw from the Canadian border, passes through excellent grizzly habitat. Make sure you review grizzly protocol before hiking through bear country. [USFWS Endangered Species / flickr]
Wolves have recolonized much of Idaho and Washington after being reintroduced into the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness in 1995. Although most wolves will flee if encountered by people, it’s important to take appropriate precautions when hiking in wolf country. Dozens of packs roam Idaho—look for the Marble Mountain Pack along the Marble Creek National Recreation Trail east of Clarkia. [U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Headquarters / flickr]
Lynx are rarely seen due to their secretive, nocturnal habits. Still, small populations are thought to exist throughout parts of the Inland Northwest. Look for them on the St. Paul Lake Trail in the Cabinet Mountains, where a lynx was caught on camera in 2012. [Keith Williams / flickr]