Sno-Parks offer fun, for a fee

  • Sharon Wootton / Outbound Columnist
  • Friday, December 15, 2000 9:00pm
  • Life

wDownhill skiing doesn’t appeal to everyone. Maybe it’s the speed, or the strain on the knees, or the sudden burial in a snow bank that’s unappealing.

Fortunately, there are winter alternatives; the temptations are as close as the nearest Sno-Park.

Snowshoeing and cross-country skiing have risen in popularity in Washington state. In response, the state, Forest Service and volunteer organizations have gotten into the business of groomed trails.

Parking alongside the road is no longer acceptable in many places, which means the state got involved in the parking business too, starting in 1975. Snow-goers should care about this because there are parking fees. And tickets.

There are more than 50 areas in the state dedicated to nonmotorized recreationists.

Sno-Park permit fees are issued to provide snow removal, toilets, trail grooming, signing, mapping, education and enforcement, lot construction and administration.

The $20 seasonal Sno-Park permit is transferable between two vehicles, both of which must be registered to individuals in the same household.

But one sticker isn’t enough in some places.

A $20 special groomed trails permit also needs to be purchased if you’re using the Cabin Creek, Chiwawa Loop, Hyak, Kahler Glenn, Lake Easton, Lake Wenatchee or Mount Spokane sno-parks.

The special groomed trails permit will not be needed at Crystal Springs Sno-Park.

All other Sno-Parks can be used with only the season permit.

A one-day Sno-Park permit can be purchased for $8.

Many Sno-Parks have groomed trails. For information on groomed trail conditions, call 800-233-0321 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Permits can be bought at more that 125 retail locations. For a list of vendors, call 800-233-0321.

Cross-country skiers should leave their dogs at home because dogs punch holes in the set tracks with their paws, making the tracks difficult and dangerous to follow.

Here’s something to think about: Children should not be allowed to drive snowmobiles.

That’s the stance of the American Academy of Pediatrics, according to an Associated Press story.

Some states allow children as young as 8 to ride alone if they’ve passed a snowmobile safety course; other states have no restrictions.

But even with a safety course, the APA cast doubt on whether it was enough to protect a young child, according to the November issue of the journal Pediatrics.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission reported that 51 children under 16 died in snowmobile-related accidents between 1992 and 1997.

The APA released the following guidelines:

  • Children younger than 16 should not operate snowmobiles.

  • Children younger than 6 should not ride on them.

  • To be licensed, drivers should first obtain a learner’s permit through a state-sanctioned course.

  • All drivers and passengers should wear helmets.

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