We’ve all been stuck inside for what seems like forever, and it’s definitely time for all of us to get onto google and search that well-known keyword, “places to hike near me!” Not only did winter seem longer than usual, but COVID quarantine created somewhat of a “Super Spring Fever.”
When you think of Washington state, you likely have visions of the Space Needle, rain, green forests and waterfalls for miles, and Pike Place Market. As a lover of the outdoors, and an avid hiker, there are endless posts about hikes on the west side of the state.
But, if you’re from the OTHER side of the state (Spokane, Coeur d’Alene, Sandpoint anyone?), there are far fewer resources for finding a great hike without spending your entire day driving. Until now!
Now’s the time to scout out your post-quarantine hikes nearby! Here’s our list of top local favorites with a little bit for everyone!
Live in the Spokane Valley and looking to stay close to home but still want to get a good workout in? Dogs. Kids. Friends. Mountain bikes. All are welcome! Iller Creek Trail is a moderately rated 5.5-mile meander (for the full loop) with a 1,230-foot elevation gain on the front side. The season is open from April to December, although too early in spring and you’ll definitely be met with mud, snow, and runoff water—end of April is about perfect. Reaching the top, you’re met with an expansive view of the surrounding farmland and some gigantic rocks (called the Rocks of Sharon).
The trail’s second namesake, the “Rocks of Sharon,” are said to have been named from back in the days when visitors would get off the train from Pullman near the “Sharon” store (the store is long-since gone) and go up to picnic near the rocks. These days there’s still picnics aplenty at the top, but you’re also likely to see rock climbers and mountain bikers making their way through the terrain.
Another great thing about this hike is that it’s a loop, so even when the trail has several people enjoying it at once, odds are you won’t see them.
Discover Pass is NOT required for this hike!
If you’ve spent any time at all on Instagram™, you know that fire lookouts are pretty popular these days.
Way back in 1910, wilderness fire detection became a priority after a devastating wildfire season in the western United States that burned over 3 million acres. To increase early detection, lookout towers were built on national forests throughout the country.
Many of these fire lookouts have enough space for 1-2 people to sleep, with a small table and a “firefinder.” A firefinder is an instrument that allows one to be on the lookout and pinpoint the location of forest fires by seeing smoke from long distances. Some of them are even still in use today!
The Quartz Mountain hike offers great views, a bit of an incline, and the option to rent the lookout for overnight if you plan ahead! Once you reach the top, you’ll have 360-degree views from about 5,100 feet elevation of central Washington and north Idaho. On a clear day you can even see the mountains in Montana. This is a 4.6-mile out-and-back hike that’s best done in summer or early fall.
You might even get a glimpse of the wild turkeys wandering through this area!
Discover Pass required for this hike!
Crossing the border into Idaho is well worth the drive for the second largest lake in Pend Oreille county! The hike in its entirety is 11.2 miles out-and-back with a 2,100-foot elevation gain and is open March to November. The trail is a gem even if you don’t plan on going the full length. It’s perfect for out-and-back hiking for fun at all ages.
Bead Lake has the feel of a mountain lake with pristine and impeccably clear waters, stunning surrounding greenery, and quiet trails. It doesn’t get the recognition it deserves, but that may be because those who frequently visit want to keep it a secret!
Discover Pass is NOT required for this hike!
If you haven’t been out to Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge, here’s a good place to start! There are tons of trails on this land and all of them are focused on one thing—preserving the land and wildlife. So, if you’re looking for a spin-class type workout, this may not be the hike for you. But, if you want to learn more about the wildlife being preserved and the geological history of the 18,000-acre area, bring a snack and bust out the binoculars!
This 6.3-mile looped trail has minimal elevation gain and is available year-round, weather permitting.
Possible wildlife may include coyotes, deer, elk, waterfowl, and many others. Watch the shorelines for moose!
Discover Pass NOT required for this hike! You may be asked to pay a $3 entry fee, March to October.
If there’s one hike in Spokane Valley that gets all the credit (at least when it comes to every local Spokane hiking book or post), it’s definitely this one. Not only is it bumped up right next to the city park at the entrance (complete with a large grassy picnic area, playground toys, RV/campground area, and the city beach), but the trail itself is well-maintained and includes a variety of scenery and wildlife for everyone. It’s a 9-mile loop with 1,550-foot elevation gain and it’s open May to October.
En route you’re likely to see old beaver dams, an ancient cedar grove, serene waterfalls, and a friend or two along the way. If you go through the cedar grove, to the waterfall, it’s about 5 miles out-and-back … the perfect length for a family with smaller children (or those who just want a morning stroll). Possible wildlife may include black bear, bald eagle, moose, deer, and the occasional grumpy toddler.
Discover Pass NOT required for this hike! You may be charged a $2 parking fee at the entrance depending on the time of year.
Nothing feels quite like getting outside in nature, and spring has definitely sprung—at least in our neck of the woods! Get out your backpack, throw in some water, pick a trail, and go!
Have you tried any of these? What are your favorite hikes in the area? Comment below!