Little Spokane River Upstream Hike, Riverside State Park, Washington

     Ask anyone who has hiked with me and they know I don’t like to repeat hikes, in my opinion life’s just too short and there is too much to see!  When it comes to my local “in town” trails I regularly hike them and appreciate seeing them in different seasons and light. I parked at the Painted Rocks Trailhead with the plan to hike the Knothead Loop. The Washington Trail Association has done a ton of work in recent years so I was excited to see what had been accomplished. As I arrived and began to prepare for my hike I realized the trail had been closed from a recent fire that had torched the landscape. I spoke with a Ranger at the trailhead who informed me that the upstream trail was open, so off I went.

     I crossed the bridge over the Little Spokane River and paused for a minute to take in the view. Once across the bridge I picked up the trail to the left heading east. I walked the path alone, this trail doesn’t get much use. Fall color was beginning to show, in a couple weeks the cottonwoods along the river bank would glow yellow, for today I had to use my imagination. Before long I encountered a wonderful meadow with a bench at its edge that I took the time to explore. Heading cross country through the tall grass I reached the wooded seat and took a break, how could you not. I sat admiring the peace and quiet, something none of us take the time to do often enough. Just beyond the meadow I could make out the river, or at least an old oxbow. I forged on through the tall grass to the river’s edge to take in the peaceful scene. The Little Spokane River is a paddlers paradise that is mostly privately owned, so access is very limited, unfortunately.

     Back on the trail it didn’t take long before gaining a little elevation then leveling out again. I passed between and below some rocky out crops before reaching a rocky prominence then descending into an enchanted ravine. Tucked into a narrow canyon surrounded by rock cliffs and dashes of fall color, the scenery was splendid. A short way beyond the enchanted ravine I reached a pond surrounded by tall grasses and lined with ponderosa pine. I paused for a minute to take it in before heading left where a short ways down the trail I discovered a junction and went left again following some pink tape. I followed the path a ways and soon passed another marked junction on my right, I continued straight to the overlook of St. George’s School where I decided to sit and enjoy a lunch of tofu spring rolls with peanut sauce while taking in the splendid view.  I had hiked in an IPA and enjoyed it while listening to the UW Huskies season opening football game on my phone, things were not looking well for them, and they would eventually lose.

     After my lunch I reluctantly shouldered my pack and returned the way I came to the junction I had just passed on the way in and took it. I followed the trail to an old road where I followed it a short ways to another junction where I went left. The trail meandered throught a very young forest, lodgepole pine was prolific. At one point I had found one such pine bent over the trail creating a natural arch, it was an awesome site to behold in the evening light. Eventually I reached the end of the road and another side trail heading right, which I followed and after a short descent found myself at the edge of the ponderosa pine lined pond I had passed previously. Back at the main trail I went right, passed back through the enchanted ravine and eventually finished the lollipop loop hike when I rediscovered the trailhead after retracing my steps. The upstream trail along the Little Spokane River makes for a nice walk, and I must say a pleasure to hike again. It had been so long since my last exploration that it almost felt like I was walking it again for the first time. If you live in Spokane please take the time to visit the Little Spokane River, its a real gem that we are so fortunate to have in our backyard. For more pictures click the link. Little Spokane River Pictures

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