Only 9 miles northwest of downtown Spokane, lucky visitors will stumble upon the cozy community of Nine Mile Falls. There are plenty of worthwhile experiences, breathtaking views and culinary treats on both sides of the river. Even though it is just a short drive from the city, Nine Mile Falls provides a great getaway to a beautiful part of Eastern Washington. It is important to note that you will need a Discover Pass to get the most out of your day in Nine Mile Falls.
Pine Bluff Loop
The Pine Bluff Loop trail in Nine Mile Falls accommodates dogs on a leash and is moderately difficult. The trail spans 5.6 miles and took me about two and a half hours traveling at a decent pace but with some longer stops to hydrate and take in the views. I would suggest starting your trek at the Carlson Trailhead off of West Carlson Road instead of the Pine Bluff Trailhead, as there are public bathrooms attached to the Carlson Trailhead parking lot. It is easy to get turned around or take different branches on the trail, as the loop is not clearly marked, so downloading the AllTrails app helps to track your progress and monitor elevation changes.
The Pine Bluff Loop provides great variety, including dirt, gravel, rock and paved road portions. Wearing hiking boots made the experience much more enjoyable, as the rocky segment is a bit treacherous. By heading southwest to start your loop, you enter the tougher half of the hike and ascend uphill. Once at the top, take time to enjoy the scenery and take in this majestic bend of the Spokane River. Keep in mind throughout the trail that sometimes you must turn around to sneak a peek of some magical views. If you are looking for an easier start, take the flatter, eastern portion of the trail closest to the river.
Pay particular attention around mile four, if you are traveling in a counterclockwise loop, because the trail splits off of the gravel road and heads into Deep Creek Canyon. Descend into the creek bed, briefly walk north and reenter the forest on the western side of the creek. Be aware, the trail then becomes extremely rocky and rough for a brief portion, eventually meeting up with a paved road that offers you spectacular views of the river and takes you right back to your car. If you want an easier experience, do not branch off toward the creek bed and continue north on the gravel trail toward the Deep Creek Overlook. With a slight trail alteration, you will still meet up with the paved road while avoiding the most rugged part of the loop.
The Tin Cup Cafe and Country Store
After all of the hiking and sightseeing, you may have worked up an appetite. Look no further than The Tin Cup Cafe and Country Store, which is about a mile up West Charles Road. The store has an adorable interior with plenty of food options for affordable prices. Their old fashioned ice cream is refreshing after a long hike; I am constantly craving a scoop of Huckleberry Heaven! Their burgers are delicious and come with an ample amount of french fries. Because of COVID-19 the interior is currently closed, so ordering takes place at the outside window.
Nine Mile Recreation Area
With plenty of picnic tables, covered areas and easy access to the river, the Nine Mile Falls Recreation Area just off of West Charles Road is another great area that offers many options to visitors. Whether you take your food from the Tin Cup Cafe to eat at one of the picnic tables or launch a boat or a couple of kayaks into the river, this is a beautiful place to stop! The recreation area includes public bathrooms, camping accommodations and is dog friendly in case your pup would like to go for a swim.
If you are looking for a unique place to cool off, the Cove is a must try. Situated about 13 miles northwest of the recreation area in Fisk State Park, the Cove is worth the drive. Follow North South Bank Road until it changes from pavement to gravel. It is at this point that I lost all phone reception. Eventually the road leads to a parking lot that connects to a trail taking you to the Cove.
About one quarter of a mile in, the trail splits. If you take the path to the left, there is a small beach area for a more relaxing experience. If you head to the right, you will find yourself in the middle of the cove. There is a small beach, plenty of rocks to sit on and some “mermaid rocks” where you can sit with your feet submerged and watch as climbers jump off of the cliffs into the water. Please exercise extreme caution in the Cove. If you choose to cliff dive it is very dangerous and rocks can be very slippery.
Hot Toddy’s Coffee/291 Brewhouse
After spending a full day in Nine Mile Falls, you may need a pick-me-up before heading home. For a quick treat, try Hot Toddy’s Coffee on the north side of the river. The stand-alone coffee shed has a drive through and plenty of delicious and innovative offerings along with coffee classics. The stand also has sweets and a few food options.
If you are in less of a rush, try either dining in or taking away from 291 Brewhouse, which is immediately next to Hot Toddy’s Coffee. Both establishments have the same owner and you can tell there is an emphasis on providing high-quality options for patrons. With daily specials, a cozy aesthetic and a focus on locally-sourcing ingredients when possible, 291 Brewhouse is a culinary treat that also offers all of the caffeinated beverages from the coffee shed.