The Eastern Washington cities of Spokane and Spokane Valley are surrounded by parks, trails and natural beauty. Here are five favorite parks and hikes around Spokane.
Located in Spokane Valley, WA (No Parking Passes Needed)
This is a beautiful park with 55 acres of fun for walking, hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, or even picnicking. To get here is an easy 5-minute drive off the I-90 Pines Exit; you can find the park going in two different directions and both are the same distance Via E Indiana Ave or via N Pines Rd Mirabeau Pkwy.
There is an easy 1.2-mile loop that is very peaceful that you can hike, walk, jog or bike. If you would like to venture off this loop, it also connects to the Spokane River-Centennial Trail. The paved trail spans over 40 miles, starting in the Nine Mile Falls/Riverside State Park in Spokane and heading east towards Idaho. If you continue heading east from the state line, for another 24 miles you will extend through Post Falls and Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.
Along the easy loop hike, you can also find an amazing and peaceful little gem called The Heroes Garden. The garden is a place of respite and a relationship for Gold Star Families and Veterans currently overseas by the WA State Fallen Heroes Project. You can look at the beautiful work these families have put together for a fallen loved one. This garden is a place of Zen for them, so when you pass this little area along the trail, take a moment to remember all those who have fallen and sacrificed their lives.
At Mirabeau Park, they have a beautiful man-made waterfall that guests love to take advantage of. They use this peaceful area to Zen out, read a book and have lunch. This waterfall is a go-to place for a lot of photographers because it makes such a great backdrop for amazing families, seniors, engagements, or wedding photos. If you would love to explore a place that has it all, this is the park for you. If you have little ones who love the outdoors and want to be outside, Mirabeau has a huge playground called Discovery Playground that has a lot for the kids to play with and have fun. During the summer months, they have a great splash pad to keep you and your family cool during the hot times.
Located in East Spokane, WA (No Parking Passes Needed)
The trail can be a 2.5-mile loop or a 25-mile one-way trail that you can hike, run, mountain bike and play disk golf on. This is a dog-friendly trail, but it is recommended to keep your pet on a leash. Beacon Hill has a lot to offer on its 1,000 acres of land. Not only is it a great spot for hiking, biking, and horse riding, but it’s also connected to a park called Minnehaha Park. It has a nice grass area, with a big playground set, a softball/baseball field, and a horseshoe pit. It’s a great place to have a nice day at the park, hang with the family and maybe have a picnic.
The trails at Beacon Hill are considered moderately challenging. There are a plethora of trails and routes covering this small mountain sitting on the eastern edge of the City of Spokane. There are a few jeep trails, mainly along the power line route headed to the Northeast. This is a nice area to hike not only for its beautiful views and great sunsets, but also when you are on the top you can see for miles in every direction. No matter what, you can try so many new trails and never the same one unless you have a favorite. There are at least 35+ different trails you can try.
You can start your hike at a few different areas, but one popular start is at the entrance of Esmeralda Golf Course off East Courtland Avenue. From this trailhead, you can take the loop or hike all the way to the end of another entrance, a fun spot called Shields Park Access, located off East Upriver Drive. This is still part of Beacon Hill — you can always start at this location — popular for its beautiful treeline and river views. It brings in a big crowd for its great location, and for rock climbing and all the trails it has to offer.
Indian Canyon Mystic Falls, Palisades Park
Located in West Spokane, 3 miles from Downtown Spokane (No Parking Passes Needed)
This beautiful area of the meadow has a lot to offer with its trails, wildflowers, wildlife, and views of downtown Spokane. Not to mention the Mystic Waterfall that draws a lot of attention in the Spring and Fall. When it’s flowing well, it’s a popular area all year long to witness. This waterfall is great to see at its prime and when it freezes over in the winter months. The water from these falls connects to the Spokane River many miles away. This area is dog-friendly, but you must keep pets on a leash.
There are a few ways you can hike to this waterfall. The first location which is closest to the trail and waterfall has limited parking and a fire gate that they DO NOT want you to block. You can park off to the side, at US-2 to Indian Canyon Mystic Falls or I-90 Maple Exit to S Government Way. From here it’s 0.8-miles out and back, but it can be very steep, and a muddy trail. It’s not well marked but has a small 121 trail marker on a tree. It’s best to have trekking poles or a sturdy stick to make it down the descent with a few switchbacks. Once you get to the bottom of the canyon, to your right you can see the falls and it’s a very short hike along the creek.
Another way to the falls — which is a longer trek if you can’t find parking close or want a longer scenic route — you can park up top at Palisade Park/Rim Rock Drive. You can explore that area as well, or start your hike down to the falls. This trail is more maintained and noticeable until it’s overgrown in the summer and when you start your descent down to the canyon. From the parking lot, you will cross the street you came up on “W Greenwood Rd.” to a trail called Best of Palisades Park. Take trail 120 to trail 121 down to the Canyon.
John A. Finch Arboretum
Located in southwest Spokane on 65 acres of wooded hills (No Parking Passes Needed)
This beautiful park is one not to miss. During any season you will find so many wonderful things the more you explore. The deeper you get into this park, the more you will find within its beautiful landscape like its colorful trees, bright beautiful flowers, The Big Willow Tree, The Garden Springs Creek and so much more. You can hike, walk or jog this very easy round trip of 1.25 miles. There are no real trails here until you get further up, most of it is on grass, some dirt and rock. Sorry to say this is not a dog-friendly park; since it’s an Arboretum, they’re doing their best to keep this lovely place alive and thriving with new and old plants and trees.
They started planting in 1949 with 49 specimens comprising of 10 genera and 23 species. Currently, the arboretum houses over 2,000 labeled trees and shrubs representing over 600 species and varieties including 120 genera. This park is great for a get-together like a picnic. You can also get ahold of the city for a permit to have your wedding in the park, along with a family get-together, baby shower and more.
Finch Arboretum is one of the number one spots for its beautiful background for photographers. No matter what time of the day or week it is, you will always catch a photographer with a family or couple to capture that great photo. Just remember if you use this spot for photos to leave no trace and don’t disturb the nature that is there. This beautiful park runs along the main freeway of I-90 — you can’t miss it because no matter what, going up or down this big hill, it runs along the West side of the road. To get here off I-90 West, you will take US-395 to John A. Finch Arboretum via W Sunset Hwy from Downtown Spokane via I-90 W and W Sunset Blvd or I-90 to John A. Finch Arboretum.
Little Spokane Natural Area – Painted Rocks Trailhead
Located In North Spokane, WA (Parking Pass Needed- Discover Pass)
6.8 Miles Round Trip
This easy hike runs along the river; it’s a perfect hike for beginners and kids. This hike is one that many love because of its scenic views, wildlife such as elk, moose, birds like Ospreys, Bald Eagles, Northern Pygmy-Owls, Red-napped Sapsuckers, Downy, Hairy, Woodpeckers, and even some frogs.
This area is great in the springtime for its wildflower haven, and sometimes (if you’re lucky enough) foraging for morels. When it’s well-grown in the spring and early summer, you can be hiking through muddy trails and even overgrown branches. The Little Spokane River Natural Area contains 1,993 acres. This protected site offers several miles of undisturbed river and miles of riverside trails that you can hike.
The trail loop starts at the parking lot, and you can choose one of two paths. The first and more well-known trail is the Painted Rocks Trail 501. Right away when you start your adventure, look to your right and you will see an iron gate protecting these ancient rock paintings that were done by Native Americans.
If you would like a bit more of a challenging trail, from the parking lot to your right you can take the Knothead Loop 500. This trail is a lot steeper, with significant elevation gain. At the top, you can take a spur trail to the Knothead Overlook for beautiful views for miles of Long Lake, Mt. Spokane, and the surrounding area. Whichever way that you choose your adventure, this loop will bring you back to the parking lot. Or if you would like to do part as a hike out and back that’s ok, too.
If you would like something different to do besides hiking in this beautiful area, you can also take a stroll down the river and do a paddle trip. This trip can either be an easy 3.5-mile or 7-mile paddle depending on where you put in at. All are welcome to use canoes, kayaks, and rafts. There is absolutely no swimming, and no air mattresses or inner tubes are allowed in the water. Motorized watercraft are not permitted. This is a natural area with a lot of history, and many would like to keep it that way and let nature take its course, so sadly that means no dogs or mountain biking allowed. They don’t want the natural beauty to be destroyed.
Sadly, a few wildfires have left scars in this area and nature is trying to take it back. But do go and enjoy yourself here. It’s a great place to challenge yourself for a hike, walk or trail running! Get out and get lost in the sounds of nature, the sound of the river flowing and the animals. Remember to leave no trace, only footsteps. This place is a local hotspot for birders and naturalists alike. Here are directions for getting here from I-90 Maple/Ash.