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Old 08-09-2015, 06:37 PM
 
Location: Nashville
3,535 posts, read 4,635,141 times
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So, I am considering moving to Eastern Washington and to Spokane to escape many things. Many may think I am trying to escape the rain, but growing up in Western Oregon I have become use to that. I definitely have questions about Spokane, but this is one that I feel will be less controversial, no politics or whatsoever involved here. What I would like to know is how much beautiful and rural mountain scenery can I experience living in Spokane as compared Seattle? My feelings are that Spokane, may not have quite as pristine and immaculate scenery in its wilderness areas, but it also many not have millions of people on any given day who are visiting these so-called "wilderness" areas which turn them more into amusement parks than being far away in nature. As for me, I grew up all over the state of Oregon and have experienced living in both Portland (for over 10 years), as well as living in some of the most remote and empty parts of the state, such as the Central Oregon coast on Cape Perpetua. I will say that Cape Perpetua was at times like being in paradise during the early 2000s (haven't been there in a while). It was perhaps the most beautiful stretch of the coast with giant cliffs and old growth trees, but also had very few tourists unlike the other beaches up near Portland, like the notorious Cannon Beach, Seaside or Astoria. There is traffic jams driving out to the beaches in Northern Oregon, whereas in Central Oregon, it can be 75F and sunny on a Saturday in the summer and you are the only guy on an immaculate beach and get an entire amazing sunset for yourself.

Now, I am living in Washington for 3 years and haven't had much time to experience the beautiful outdoors here except for driving through National Parks and forests. I am planning on getting back into hiking and mountain trekking. However, I utterly hate crowds. I use to hike the Columbia Gorge back in the 90s when you actually could have trails to yourself and parking at Multnomah Falls on a Saturday was no big deal. Now, it isl ike Disneyland, with tour busses, hordes of tourists from around the world who don't even speak English, as well as hordes of loud and obnoxious people on trails and people trail cutting and throwing their garbage all around. It's horrible and the sight of it is devastating for a local as myself. I don't even bother hiking the Gorge anymore.

After sitting in a traffic jam for hours going to Snoqualmie Pass, I suddenly realized despite looking like a forest paradise, it really was just an outer city attraction and the whole concept of being stuck in traffic in the forest takes away the feeling of being in the woods. I just cannot enjoy being in nature with 1 million annoying city slickers. In between having deranged bible thumpers try to save my soul in the forest to annoying tourists who throw their garbage in the bushes in front of you, I just cannot stand being in an overcrowded forest area, no matter how beautiful the scenery is.

So, on that note, what I like to know is where around Spokane can I experience some gorgeous scenery that is no bombarded with crowds or urbanites going for their nature weekend. Perhaps, I would go on a weekday or weekend living in Spokane?

Is there any cheap accommodations around the Cabinet mountains and how far are the Cabinet mountains realistically? How would people say the beauty of the Selkirk mountains and the area around Metaline Falls and Colville compare with the beauty of the Snoqualmie and Central Cascade range?

I am actually thinking of moving to Spokane to help save money, as Seattle is becoming astronomically expensive. Also, I want to get away from the crowds and traffic jams. I'd love to be near Montana and Northern Idaho, but don't know how practical weekend trips are and not sure how far "real mountains" are from Spokane. I'm assuming Spokane, itself, doesn't have much for scenery, although I am sure it's nice having a river that runs through the downtown. Growing up in Portland, rivers don't excite me anymore and I have been a bit spoiled by having the Sound and the giant lakes nearby. It's better than not having it though, I am sure.

Anyway, I will be very busy with my work, but want to devote a day or two aweek to doing some serious mountain hiking in areas with less crowds. How hard will this be to achieve living in Spokane? People may think it's easy to find wilderness around Seattle but from my experience the trails and nature areas here are heavily crowded and the feeling of seclusion and wilderness is overwhelmed by the over abundance of Seattlites who , I just rather get away from anyhow. Whole other topic, but I will leave it at that in this thread.


I am also assuming the North Cascades for the most part are too far for weekend trips, unless you wish to do over-nighters in Winthrop, which doesn't have much cheap accommodation, or camp in the park.


I'd be interested to hear people's opinions who are experienced with mountain hiking and who live in Spokane and know the local or not too far away attractions. I would say within a 3 hour radius would be good. I don't mind driving a few hours if I am in real wilderness and may consider getting a camper or bigger tent to do more camping trips, although I am not a fan of crowded campgrounds.
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Old 08-10-2015, 04:02 PM
 
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I have family in Spokane and get up there fairly regularly. Been looking to relocate there for the past couple of years and have done a lot of research on this topic as gorgeous scenery, minus the crowds, is definitely my cup of tea as well. I really love actual federally designated wilderness areas for this reason - few people are in them and even those people are on trails. Depending on the location I'll often chose to explore off trail (even if only a few hundred yards) and then never see a soul.

Quote:
Is there any cheap accommodations around the Cabinet mountains and how far are the Cabinet mountains realistically?
Depends on where in the Cabinets you want to go. But realistically, about 2-3 hours. Scotchman Peak and the trails northeast of Lake Pend Oreille are about 2 hours from downtown Spokane. Noxon, MT - near the south end of the Cabinet Wilderness area and Troy, MT - near the north end - are both about 2 hour and 20-30 minutes out. Realistically you could be from your driveway to the trailhead in under 3 hours. I can't specifically recommend local accommodations.

Quote:
How would people say the beauty of the Selkirk mountains and the area around Metaline Falls and Colville compare with the beauty of the Snoqualmie and Central Cascade range?
They are different mountain ranges. The Selkirks, especially in Washington, just don't get as high. The most dramatic peaks in the range are in Canada. But otherwise, I think they're comparable. It's rugged stuff, mostly tree covered but rocky at the summits. The good news is that much of the central cascades are about 3.5 hours away. A little outside of your 3 hour driving range, but if you got to missing them (and there is less traffic/activity on the east side) they aren't unreasonably far out. That said, I think the Selkirks are beautiful - especially on the Idaho side around Priest Lake.

Quote:
I'm assuming Spokane, itself, doesn't have much for scenery, although I am sure it's nice having a river that runs through the downtown.
It's not alpine, but I've always thought it was a fairly scenic town. But I was always visiting from Texas - not Seattle - so my perspective will be different from yours. The bowl and pitcher area of Riverside State Park is only a few minutes from downtown and has plenty of scenic (IMO) hiking. It's a different look from Seattle, but I like it.

Quote:
Anyway, I will be very busy with my work, but want to devote a day or two aweek to doing some serious mountain hiking in areas with less crowds. How hard will this be to achieve living in Spokane? People may think it's easy to find wilderness around Seattle but from my experience the trails and nature areas here are heavily crowded and the feeling of seclusion and wilderness is overwhelmed by the over abundance of Seattlites.
There's definitely less people out, that's for sure. There's not a lot of 'serious' mountains right next to Spokane, but going 2-4 hours out lets you hit the Selkirks, the Cabinets, the Bitterroots (including the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness area), and the southern portion of the Bob Marshall Wilderness complex in Montana. I also wouldn't discount the less prominent (but much larger) portion of the Bitterroot mountains in Idaho. I-90 cuts right through the range and taking various back roads out there can get you pretty 'lost' away from civilization pretty quick.

I also enjoy snow skiing, of which there is plenty of not far from Spokane (including Mt. Spokane, Schweitzer, 49* North, Silver Mountain, and Lookout Pass. I *also* enjoy hitting the water. Spokane is less than an hour from Lake Coeur d'Alene, about an hour from Lake Pend Oreille and an hour and 45 from Priest Lake. Additionally, there are tons of other lakes and rivers to paddle/boat/fish in.

Quote:
I don't mind driving a few hours if I am in real wilderness and may consider getting a camper or bigger tent to do more camping trips, although I am not a fan of crowded campgrounds.
I don't like campgrounds much, myself. IMO, a truck tent or small camper is the way to go unless you're backpacking. Out in the areas near Spokane there's not a lot of federally designated wilderness, but there is a lot of public access in National Forest land. If you've got the vehicle and are setup for it, it'd be a fairly quick matter to take a few forestry roads and get away from everyone and be by yourself all weekend. The 'end of the road' on one of those little forestry spurs makes for a great unofficial campsite. Population: 1. Technically nothing stops someone else from joining you, but most I've seen press on for their own slice of paradise, assuming anyone comes down that road that week at all.

Quote:
I am also assuming the North Cascades for the most part are too far for weekend trips, unless you wish to do over-nighters in Winthrop, which doesn't have much cheap accommodation, or camp in the park.
That's a personal call you've got to make. Winthrop is about 3.5 hours from Spokane. Ross Lake, another hour further. Lake Chelan about 3 hours. Highway 2 into the Cascades, about 3.5. In the summer months with the long, long days I would feel comfortable punching out (maybe a little early) on Friday and getting setup by/near nightfall. That would give me Saturday and most of Sunday to play around before driving back Sunday night. It's a bit more comfortable to make that kind of trip a 3-day weekend though. Ditto for driving the 4+ hours to Glacier National Park, which would totally be worth it as well.

IMO, Spokane is ideally situation between the Cascades, the North Idaho lakes and forests, and the wilderness/mountains in Montana. Great stuff is available fairly close and world-class hiking is within a few hours drive.
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Old 08-11-2015, 08:42 AM
 
Location: Washington State. Not Seattle.
2,071 posts, read 2,568,091 times
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For being a couple of guys who don't live in Spokane, I think you guys nailed it.

Spokane itself is fairly scenic, as mid- to large-sized cities go, with quite a bit of forested land in the immediate vicinity.

The mountains to the north and east are not quite as scenic as the Cascades - they don't have the craggy peaks and picturesque views, but the hiking is just as god, especially if you're not into running into Coasties every three feet. It's unlikely that you will go for a hike around here and be completely alone, but there will be much less population density here than in anywhere over there.

If you are looking to backpack in, and see NOBODY, I would recommend the Pasayten wilderness, north of Winthrop.
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Old 08-11-2015, 11:35 AM
Status: "Write me in for POTUS" (set 3 days ago)
 
Location: Near Manito
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PS90 View Post
For being a couple of guys who don't live in Spokane, I think you guys nailed it.

Spokane itself is fairly scenic, as mid- to large-sized cities go, with quite a bit of forested land in the immediate vicinity.

The mountains to the north and east are not quite as scenic as the Cascades - they don't have the craggy peaks and picturesque views, but the hiking is just as god, especially if you're not into running into Coasties every three feet. It's unlikely that you will go for a hike around here and be completely alone, but there will be much less population density here than in anywhere over there.

If you are looking to backpack in, and see NOBODY, I would recommend the Pasayten wilderness, north of Winthrop.
Sure, but Pasayten is a lonnnnng way from Spokane! I've always been fascinated with tne way the vegetation and even the air itself changes as you pass a certain point on good old Mt. Spokane. Goodbye to pondeBullBoxer31 and dry-as-dust soil; hello to lupine-filled meadows, Alpine firs, wind-twisted high country trees of all sizes, and that spicy altitude breeze: it's like you left eastern Washington behind and found yourself in the Olympics or the lower slopes of Rainier.
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Old 08-11-2015, 01:37 PM
 
448 posts, read 653,436 times
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Quote:
If you are looking to backpack in, and see NOBODY, I would recommend the Pasayten wilderness, north of Winthrop.
I'll put that on my list!

Quote:
Goodbye to pondeBullBoxer31 and dry-as-dust soil; hello to lupine-filled meadows, Alpine firs, wind-twisted high country trees of all sizes, and that spicy altitude breeze: it's like you left eastern Washington behind and found yourself in the Olympics or the lower slopes of Rainier.
That breeze is one of the best parts of increased elevation. Air always seems to be moving if you get up high enough.
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Old 08-11-2015, 05:41 PM
 
20,207 posts, read 12,585,397 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RotseCherut View Post
So, I am considering moving to Eastern Washington...
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Old 08-11-2015, 11:41 PM
 
Location: Nashville
3,535 posts, read 4,635,141 times
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I appreciate the suggestions.. A lot of great information here.. The Pasaytan wilderness that Yeledef mentions sounds very inspiring. But, wasn't that the area that suffered a horrible amount of destruction in last year's fire? I'm not sure exactly but there was almost one million acres burned on the Eastern side of the Cascades towards Winthrop.

Mount Spokane sounds fun. It sounds like the Selkirks are a hidden piece of paradise. Although, I am sure they are not as grandiose as the Northern or Central Cascades, the remote nature and unique beauty of them sounds inspiring. I love the idea of hiking in an area that is less explored by the hordes. Yes, I really fell in love with Montana's beauty and would be inspired to go and hike all through the remote Cabinet mountain wilderness area. I have hiked the Montana side of the Bitterroots, but have yet to explore the Idaho side, especially the Frank Church Wilderness area I keep hearing so much about.


I can see that would certainly be a benefit of Spokane, being within driving distance to both the Cascades and the Rocky mountains. However, the downside is you are still a considerable drive. Being the person who likes to explore rugged mountain wildernesses and I do prefer trees and alpine scenery, I may spend quite a bit of time up in the Selkirks and around Metaline Falls if it is only a 2 hour drive from the city.
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Old 08-12-2015, 07:19 AM
 
Location: Washington State. Not Seattle.
2,071 posts, read 2,568,091 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RotseCherut View Post
I appreciate the suggestions.. A lot of great information here.. The Pasaytan wilderness that Yeledef mentions sounds very inspiring. But, wasn't that the area that suffered a horrible amount of destruction in last year's fire? I'm not sure exactly but there was almost one million acres burned on the Eastern side of the Cascades towards Winthrop.
The Carlton Complex did burn part of the Methow Valley, but the main areas of damage were around Pateros and Carlton - which are near the southern-most part of the Methow. The Pasayten is on the Canadian Border (just east of North Cascades National Park). It was not within 30 or 40 miles of the Carlton fire.

The Pasayten Wilderness is closed to all mechanized vehicle traffic - no car/motorbike/bicycles - only feet and horses. As such, you can't get to the awesome, open, tundra-like meadows in the interior without some serious hiking.

As Yeledef said, though, it's a good 3.5-4 hour drive from Spokane. I only mentioned it because you talked about wanting to hike somewhere without crowds - and that would be the place.
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Old 08-12-2015, 12:17 PM
Status: "Write me in for POTUS" (set 3 days ago)
 
Location: Near Manito
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Also, I think you can still take a boat up Ross Lake and be dropped along the shore at one of the trailheads and/or primitive campsites.

At least you could thirty years ago, when I was still a young guy running on premium fuel...
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Old 08-14-2015, 09:30 PM
 
Location: Inland NW
206 posts, read 285,818 times
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I second the posts on Winthrop, Washington. You will not find the dramatic scenery you've grown accustomed to in Seattle in or near Spokane, whereas Winthrop and surrounding areas fit the bill minus the crowds and chronic rainfall. Head east into Idaho and you'll find wildfires galore. The city of Bayview was recently evacuated. Today, smokey air is engulfing North Idaho from Bonner's Ferry and Scotchman Peaks, and likely other locations. You'll also meet plenty of tourists on trailheads, thanks to a massive marketing campaign to attract city-weary people (like yourself) to the area. I'm currently working in Sandpoint, a good two hours north of downtown Spokane. Tourists and others fleeing California are crowding an infrastructure not engineered to deal with the influx, and they've brought their attitude and rude driving habits with them. I've yet to find a truly secluded trailhead. Maybe I'm not looking hard enough..but dammit I shouldn't have to this far out from a metropolis!
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