Deep Creek Dayhike

SUNDAY, JUNE 23, 1996

Check it out

Distance: 4-2/3 miles

Difficulty: Moderate

Hiking time: 2-4 hours

Season: March through Nov.

Maps: USGS Nine Mile Falls

Into: Riverside State Park, 456-3964

Dayhiking trip notes

Access: From the corner of Assembly and Francis in northwest Spokane, head west on Francis, which eventually becomes Nine Mile Road (also Highway 291). Go 6-1/4 miles and turn left (west) onto Charles Road. Cross Spokane River just below Nine Mile Dam and bear left onto Carlson Road. Drive nearly 1/2 mile to Centennial Trail parking area.

Attractions: Area offers dramatic range of scenery in Riverside State Park, ranging from rubble of crumbling basalt near mouth of Deep Creek to dark mossy forest, to open ponderosa pine forest to cliff-edge overlooks of Nine Mile Reservoir on Pine Bluff.

Comments: Much of route might be shared with mountain bikers and possibly horse riders.

From parking area, cross Carlson road to trailhead sign and follow dirt path that heads into woods above Centennial Trail. Trail soon heads uphill. At nearly 1/2 mile, turn left at trail junction and begin contouring east on well-maintained single-track path.

At of a 3/4 mile, bear left at another junction, and head downhill on trail newly reconstructed by volunteer mountain bikers. Note tall, tooth-like basalt spire on way down to junction with Centennial Trail at 1-1/4 miles.

Turn right on old paved road, closed to motor vehicles now that it’s designated as Centennial Trail. In May, area yellow with balsamroot and arnica. By mid-June, sticky geraniums plus wild rose, thimbleberry and other shrubs blooming. Common to see ospreys along river. Hike east to picnic area at mouth of Deep Creek at nearly 1-1/2 miles.

From first metal bench at west edge of Deep Creek picnic area, trail heads up into wasteland of basalt spires and scree that looks like aftermath of bombing mission. Route switchbacks up rough, rocky trail to rim for look down on Deep Creek. Wind below tall basalt sentinel, then down to trail junction at 1-3/4 miles. (Left trail heads down to ford of Deep Creek.)

To continue route, bear right and head uphill short way to another junction. Turn left, head steeply uphill 50 yards and bear left at yet another junction at 2 miles into the hike.

Trail eventually flattens and contours beautifully along bench. Shortly after beginning uphill grade toward Pine Bluff, note junction for Trail 25 at nearly 2-1/2 miles. (Good side trip: head left and down on Trail 25 which soon contours south along bench to Pine Bluff Road.)

To continue featured route, keep climbing up grade, then switch back up to grand overlook of Spokane River Valley atop Pine Bluff at 2-2/3 miles. Hike north along bluff (with river valley on your right) past first metal bench, then past second metal bench. Pick up double-track trail and continue north near bluff. After passing under powerlines (osprey nests on poles below), trail heads downhill, becoming glorious single track again.

At 3-1/4 miles, head left at junction and walk 30 yards to good overlook of Nine Mile Reservoir. Then go back and continue down main trail to familiar trail junction. Turn left, heading down short steep stretch to another familiar junction at 3-1/3 miles. Turn left again, plunging downhill on switchbacking trail into ravine.

Trail abruptly heads back uphill into pleasant trail segment that winds through basalt rock formations and below mossy cliffs. Bear left at another familiar trail junction at 3-3/4 miles. Retrace earlier walk, turning right at next trail section and walking downhill to trailhead.

Riverside State Park open 6:30 a.m. to dusk. Pets must be on leash. Vandalism occasionally reported at Centennial Trail parking areas. Never leave valuables in car.

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Map of Deep Creek Dayhike

The following fields overflowed: SUPCAT = COLUMN - Routes: Classic trips in the Inland Northwest

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