12 Top-Rated Hiking Trails near Spokane

Written by Brad Lane
Jan 16, 2019

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Surrounding all sides of Spokane in eastern Washington, inviting landscapes like the Spokane River corridor attract hikers, as do the Selkirk Mountains, and rocky outcroppings with beautiful views can be found throughout the city. On the northwest side of Spokane, Riverside State Park is a centerpiece natural attraction of the region and offers many distinct areas for hiking and adventure, including deep creek canyons and wild river formations. Conservation areas like Antoine Peak and Dishman Hills dot the city and provide fast access to the outdoors.

Other state parks, federal recreation areas, and places with hiking trails near Spokane include Mount Spokane; Lake Roosevelt; and Washington's designated state waterfall, Palouse Falls. Plan your trip with our list of the best hiking trails near Spokane.

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1. Rocks of Sharon, Iller Creek Conservation Area

Rocks of Sharon

Rocks of Sharon | D. Taylor in Idaho / photo modified

Part of the larger Dishman Hills Conservation Area, Iller Creek is a tucked-away wooded retreat surrounded by neighborhoods and private property. On the southeast side of the city, two trailheads lend access to this natural area, including its most iconic feature, "Big Rock," also known as Rocks of Sharon. With sweeping views of the Palouse to the south, the looped trail that circles Iller Creek Conservation Area is roughly five miles in length.

A worthy view to hike for, Rocks of Sharon is also a popular sport climbing destination with a variety of routes lining the 250-foot rocky outcropping. The Iller Creek trailhead is a popular starting point for a hike, though the Stevens Creek Trailhead to the south offers a faster route to Rocks of Sharon.

Official site: http://www.dishmanhills.org/

2. Bowl and Pitcher, Riverside State Park

Bowl and Pitcher

Bowl and Pitcher | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

One of the most popular areas of Riverside State Park and home to one of the best campgrounds near Spokane, the Bowl and Pitcher Area provides nothing short of a postcard view of the Spokane River. From the main parking area and Bowl and Pitcher Campground, the hiking trail immediately encounters a Civilian Conservation Corps-era suspension bridge extending across the water. From the bridge, perhaps the best view of the area's namesake feature is on display, and the massive basalt rock features lining the banks of the river stand out with scenic appeal.

After crossing the suspension bridge and climbing a collection of stairs built into the hillside, hikers to this popular area can head left or right along the river to admire more views of the valley and rock features.

Official site: https://parks.state.wa.us/573/Riverside

3. Lower Kit Carson Loop, Mount Spokane State Park

Kit Carson Lower Loop Road

Kit Carson Lower Loop Road | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

One of the most accessible areas of the Selkirk Mountains, Mount Spokane State Park encompasses over 12,000 acres and hundreds of miles of multi-use trails to explore. An hour drive from downtown, many trails at Mount Spokane can transport you far from the city, and one of the most well-traveled trails throughout the year is the Kit Carson Loop. Beginning at the Lower Kit Carson Loop Road trailhead, hikers, bikers, and snowshoers can head either way on the loop to discover mixed canopies, alpine slopes, and a renowned warming hut at Smith Gap.

At the middle of the Lower Kit Carson Loop Trail, users reach a junction with the Mount Kit Carson Trail 160, which leads to the peak and stunning views. Shortly after the junction, users also encounter a historic Civilian Conservation Corps cabin with interpretive information about the area. The views at the summit of Mount Kit Carson, the second tallest peak in the park, are worth the steady uphill hike and include elevated sight lines on the Selkirk Range. Users can also access Trail 130 from the top of Kit Carson, which leads to a second summit of the nearby Day Mountain.

4. Riverside State Park Trail 25, Deep Creek Canyon Editor's Pick

Basalt boulder field in Deep Creek Canyon

Basalt boulder field in Deep Creek Canyon | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

Traversing the scenic Deep Creek Canyon of Riverside State Park, Trail 25 is a roughly six-mile round-trip experience navigating a lush environment between tall canyon walls. With various access points and parking areas, this popular trail crosses dry creek beds and winds through the forest with a moderate grade.

Trail 25 also takes users through a unique basalt field complete with impressive rock features that make hikers forget how close they are to the city. This is a great place to begin exploring Deep Creek Canyon, with many different trails of the area spanning from the looped Trail 25. Traveling along the dry creek bed is also a fun option filled with boulders, trickling pools, and a fair amount of scrambling.

5. Rimrock Drive, Palisades Park

Palisades Park

Palisades Park | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

With easy access on the west side of the city, Palisades Park provides a network of trails atop a basalt cliffside overlooking the city. Hikers, bikers, and equestrians often utilize the many trails that loop and span the 700-acre park, and one of the most popular routes is along the gravel Rimrock Drive (not open to vehicles). The view of Spokane from Rimrock Drive, backdropped by Selkirk Mountain peaks, is unparalleled anywhere else in the city.

Other trails within Palisades Park wind throughout the varied terrain and lead to secret gems like Indian Creek Falls. Owned and operated by the city, the multiple access points and parking areas for Palisades Park can be busy on weekends throughout the year.

Official site: http://www.palisadesnw.com/

6. Emerald Necklace Trail, Antoine Peak Conservation Area

Antoine Peak Conservation Area

Antoine Peak Conservation Area | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

Encompassing over 1,000 acres on the northern edge of Spokane Valley, Antoine Peak Conservation Area is a popular natural space for wildlife and trail users of all kinds. Hiking, mountain biking, and horse riding are some of the most popular ways to explore the conservation area, and coming from the west trailhead, visitors have two scenic routes to choose from.

The Emerald Necklace Trail at Antoine Peak circles the entire mountain in just over five miles and is often lined with vibrant displays of wildflowers come spring. Alternatively, hikers can opt for the Antoine Peak Summit Trail, which leads to the top of the 3,336-foot mountain for panoramic views of the Spokane Valley, Liberty Lake, and the Selkirk Mountains.

7. Fryxell Overlook, Palouse Falls State Park

Palouse Falls

Palouse Falls

Plunging over 200 feet into a colorful, columnar basalt gorge, Palouse Falls is the designated state waterfall of Washington and can be reached from Spokane in less than a two-hour drive. Created by Ice Age floods thousands of years ago, this impressive waterfall and equally scenic gorge formed just upstream of the confluence of the Palouse and Snake Rivers. Palouse Falls and the surrounding 94-acre state park are in a remote part of the region, accessed via a gravel road and the small town of Washtucna, also known as the Gateway to Palouse Falls. With ADA compliant hiking trails and parking areas, and a sea of changing color come sunset, Palouse Falls is well worth the gravel-road approach.

The short hiking trail that tours Palouse Falls State Park features three prominent viewpoints of this best waterfall in the state of Washington. From the parking area, a short ADA-accessible path leads to the first stunning view of the falls, and the second viewpoint is accessed via an interpretive path lined with information about the falls' creation. The Fryxell Overlook affords perhaps the best view of the falls and surrounding gorge, and sunset and sunrise are the most recommended times to climb the steep path to access the overlook.

8. Knothead Loop, Little Spokane River Natural Area

Little Spokane River Natural Area

Little Spokane River Natural Area | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

The northernmost section of Riverside State Park, this natural area displays the lush river valley and soggy banks of the Little Spokane River. This is a designated conservation space, with no swimming allowed. The best way to take in this scenic riparian corridor is via the seven-mile Knothead Loop Trail.

Beginning at the Painted Rocks trailhead, the trail follows the flat contour of the river plain before meeting an old road bed and ascending on the Knothead Loop Trail proper. Weaving up and down across several hills, great views of the valley can be seen below. Popular for trail runners and day hikers, exposed areas on the trail can experience high heat in the summer.

9. Liberty Lake Loop, Liberty Lake Regional Park

Liberty Creek Waterfall

Liberty Creek Waterfall

Southeast of Spokane near the Idaho border, this looped hiking trail begins and ends at the shores of Liberty Lake and winds through eight miles of forested environment. Well-maintained and a long-time favorite of the region, the full loop trail encourages a hearty hike with moderate elevation change.

The first 2.5 miles of the trail are easily graded until reaching Cedar Grove Conservation Area. From this dense landscape and possible turnaround spot, it's recommended to follow the switchbacks up to Liberty Creek Falls, which are at their fullest come spring. The Split Creek Trail provides an alternative route paralleling the Liberty Lake Loop, and a campground at this regional park encourages multiple days of exploring.

10. Mineral Ridge National Scenic Trail, Coeur d'Alene, Idaho

Mineral Ridge National Scenic Trail

Mineral Ridge National Scenic Trail | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

Across state lines in Idaho and on an eastern bank of Lake Coeur d'Alene, this designated scenic trail delivers on long-distance views and an interesting look into the history of the area. Operated by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the trail begins at a paved parking area and adjacent picnic space and climbs steadily to the ridge from here.

Along this well-maintained path, different interpretive markers match up with a guidebook published by the BLM, relating the flora, fauna, and history of this scenic area. The ridgeline portion of the trail delivers on sweeping views of the northern lake basin, including Beauty and Wolf Lodge bays. Hundreds of bald eagles descend upon Lake Coeur d'Alene throughout the winter, and Mineral Ridge is a well-known spot to see these massive birds flying in the air.

Official site: https://www.blm.gov/visit/mineral-ridge-scenic-area-and-national-recreation-trail

11. Goldback Loop Trail, Dishman Hills Natural Area

Dishman Hills Natural Area

Dishman Hills Natural Area | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

An ongoing conservation project, Dishman Hills Conservation Area is currently split into three distinct natural areas on the south side of the city. Alongside the popular Iller Creek area, including Rocks of Sharon and the recent addition of the Glenrose Unit, the Dishman Hills Natural Area is a great place to explore outside.

Immediately upon parking at the eastern trailhead, visitors encounter the beginning of the Goldback Loop Trail, where spherical mounds dot the landscape. As the Goldback Trail climbs up a steady set of stairs, the route bobs up and down along these hillsides. The Goldback Trail Loop is just the beginning for exploration in Dishman Hills, and this popular route is a good launching point for other loops that spread throughout the natural area.

12. John H. Shields Park

Basalt outcropping at John H. Shields Park

Basalt outcropping at John H. Shields Park | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

On the north side of the city, adjacent to the Spokane River and Centennial Trail, John H. Shields is a city and county-owned park featuring massive rock formations. As well as being a popular place for sport climbing, the large basalt feature known as Minnehaha is surrounded by sprawling hiking trails, which offer a scenic environment to explore.

The main trail circles the entire rocky outcropping, revealing different places where rock climbers belay their partners and connecting the many other spur trails that wind throughout the area. More than one of these spur trails lead to the top of the basalt outcroppings, where anchors accommodate top-rope climbing, and the elevation delivers on long-distance views of Spokane Valley.

Where to Stay in Spokane after Hiking

  • Luxury Hotels: For the most luxurious stays in Spokane, the city hosts several Autograph Collection hotels, which deliver with style, aesthetics, and service. In the heart of Spokane's cultural district downtown and a short drive to the Gonzaga University campus, The Historic Davenport is the epitome of class and comfort. Featuring large rooms, restored accommodations, and a Peacock Lounge, this fanciful boutique hotel provides a night to remember. Across the street, The Davenport Lusso provides equally eloquent accommodations, and this charming hotel is well reputed for its romantic inclinations. Less than a block away, The Davenport Tower also delivers on decadent stays, with a heated pool, lounge area, and room service available.
  • Mid-Range Hotels: A large number of quality mid-range hotels can be found in and surrounding downtown Spokane, and hotels like The Madison Inn by Riversage on the city's south side deliver with comfortable rooms, clean facilities, and a friendly staff. North of Riverside City Park in the downtown district, Oxford Suites Downtown Spokane provides exceptional accommodations at affordable prices. Featuring an evening reception, full breakfast bar, and free Wi-Fi, Oxford Suites is also popular thanks to the indoor pool, sauna, and fitness facility also attached. Across the street from Oxford, the Holiday Inn Express Spokane Downtown is a dependable name-brand hotel, which delivers on clean rooms, comfortable beds, and a friendly rate for upscale accommodations.
  • Budget Hotels: Many affordable hotels surround Spokane and the downtown district, and some hotels outshine others when it comes to cleanliness, friendliness and comfort alongside a great rate. Ramada by Wyndham has two highly rated budget hotels in the city, and whether the Ramada by Wyndham North or Ramada by Wyndham Downtown suits your location needs, you can expect to have a good night's sleep surrounded by well-kept facilities. Alternatively, a little farther north of downtown, Apple Tree Inn provides quaint accommodations for an affordable rate and is known for its friendly employees.

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imageCampgrounds in Washington: The best campgrounds near Spokane complement the surrounding hiking trails, and other top-rated places to stay the night can be discovered in our Best Campgrounds in Washington State article. To spend the night at some of the best state and national parks of Washington, campgrounds in Olympic, Mount Rainier, and North Cascades allow days of adventure. For a fun weekend trip away from the city, the best campgrounds near Seattle provide an easy getaway from noise and congestion.

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