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Salt Creek Summit Sno-Park

For the solitude of backcountry winter sports it's hard to beat a far-eastern trip to the Oregon-Idaho border and the Salt Creek Summit Sno-Park.

A few miles southeast of Joseph, off Forest Road 3900, deep, dry, powder snow at more than 6,000 feet offers a pristine sanctuary for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and sledding.

There's even room for the motor-inclined, with 175 miles of groomed and signed snowmobile trails.

With 20 miles of cross-country ski trails divided into seven loops rated all the way from "easy" to "most difficult," there's fun for every experience level.

This is as close to a wilderness experience as you are likely to find.

There is no water and no on-site amenities, but thankfully there are vault toilets centrally located in an open valley.

When fingers and toes start to feel a little numb in the icy air, the brand-new, multi-purpose building is nearby with a warming room for quick recovery and return to the trail.

As with most recreation sites, weekends are the busiest times, but you'll never find an overabundance of winter athletes between you and the great outdoors.

The area winter recreation report can be viewed online at www.fs.fed.us/r6/w-w/recreation/recrep/wrecrep_wmo. For information, call the Wallowa Mountains Visitors Center, 541-426-5546.

Writer Bill Miller lives in Shady Cove. Reach him at newsmiller@yahoo.com.