Local Treasures with Pia: Urban Trails

Few people know the trails, creeks, gullies and ridges of the Inland Northwest as well as Rich Landers. He spent 40 years as the outdoors editor and writer at The Spokesman-Review, and though he is mostly retired from the paper his byline still pops up on the pages.

When Landers pens a book on hiking it’s worth to pay attention. His latest guide was co-written by David Taylor and it takes on some very different trails: “Urban Trails – Spokane and Coeur d’Alene” is a guide to 60 urban hikes and 12 nature areas that are so close to the city you can reach some of them by public transit.

“It’s this great little book, yet it took two freaking years to write it,” Landers said with a chuckle. “People think all you have to do to write a guidebook is go on hikes, but that’s really not how it works.”

Landers and Taylor connected on Facebook some years ago, and then yes, they did begin hiking together especially in Idaho.

“David hikes somewhere in North Idaho four or five days a week and he posts a lot about it on Facebook,” Landers said.

The trail guides Landers has written or co-authored are all meticulously researched with lots of detail about the area, history and topographical information.

“It takes a lot of time to pull all that together, but it’s also fun and I learn so much every time,” Landers said. This time around, he went on a hike near Medical Lake together with an Eastern Washington University geologist and a historian. “It was fascinating what I learned on that hike.”

People often ask if Landers has a favorite hike and his answer is always: it depends.

“It depends on the time of the year, how much time you have, how far you want to drive,” Landers said. He added that he often takes visitors for a quick 8-mile hike in the Little Spokane River Natural Area. “It’s just beautiful.”

Another favorite is a hike to see the blooming spring wildflowers at the Saltese Uplands Conservation Area.

Or a snowshoeing trip to the McKenzie Conservation Area at Newman Lake.

“It’s nearby and they plow the parking lot there, so that’s very nice,” Landers said.

The Post Falls Community Forest which includes about 2 miles of Spokane River frontage is also a great destination.

“I think that’s one of the most underrated hikes near Coeur d’Alene,” Landers said.

Also: Rich Landers will be featured at a free online reading on Nov. 12 at 7 p.m. when he is hosted by The Spokesman-Review’s Northwest Passages online book club. Go to www.spokesman.com for more information.

The book is available online or at REI stores, Auntie’s Bookstore in downtown Spokane and the Well-Read Moose in Coeur d’Alene.

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