Best Hikes with Dogs: Inland Northwest
by Craig Romano & Alan L. Bauer (The Mountaineers Books)
© Craig Romano & Alan L. Bauer/The Mountaineers Books. All Rights Reserved.
The trailhead starts just outside of the amazing Puffer Butte Lodge (at least, that's where I started). It looked to me like it's a place for summer camps or the Boy Scouts maybe. From there it winds through some gorgeous forest and up some moderate hills, through a small, sparsely treed meadow, and finally breaks free from the forest at the top of a desert butte. It's really a neat transition between landscapes that seem so opposite.
At the top of the butte is the Puffer Butte warming lodge, where snowshoers can get out of the weather and camp inside for the night. There's a wood burning stove inside, and just outside there are bathroom facilities as well. It's a serious lodge too, concrete foundations, bolted support posts and everything. At this point I learned there are a lot more trails one could potentially hike on at this time of year.
From here I followed the signs that said 'campground' and headed back down through some more gorgeous forest. Did I mention the trails are well marked and well maintained? Eventually you get down to a fork in the trail where you can continue to the campground or go back to the Puffer Butte Lodge.
Also quite a bit of wildlife on this trail. At one point, I was sitting on one of the many benches along the trail, where you can stop to admire the scenery, and saw 3 hawks flying overhead in sort of a triangular patrol pattern, looking for prey I suppose. Also saw several deer on the trail near the lodge, and then again on the road heading out.
All in all, it's a great hike. Scenery is beautiful, trail isn't too hard, lots of wildlife, it's well maintained and marked, and it can be relatively short if you're not feeling like a strenuous outing.
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