Check it out
Distance: 4 miles round trip
Paddling time: 1-3 hours
Season: March through Nov.
Maps: USGS Long Lake, Four Mound Prairie, Tumtum
Info: Riverside State Park, 456-3964
Paddling trip notes
Access: From the corner of Assembly and Francis in northwest Spokane, drive east on Francis (becomes State Highway 291) about 25 miles to state Department of Natural Resources Long Lake Campground and boat launch (just east of milepost 28). Enroute you’ll pass put-ins for longer optional tours at Willow Bay Resort and Tumtum.
Attractions: Route leads to captivating new Riverside State Park addition that includes granite outcroppings, islands and isolated coves. Trip involves flatwater paddling along mostly undeveloped section of Spokane River backed up behind Long Lake Dam. Good chance to see bald eagles, osprey or Canada geese. Fishing for bass.
Hazards: Wind. Open water crossing. Power boats, especially during hot summer weekends.
Comments: With exception of one ranch house, shores along featured route are wonderfully undeveloped, thanks to Washington Water Power Co., which bought most of shoreline before building Long Lake Dam in 1915.
South shore is most interesting, but novice paddlers should hug north shore, being wary not to attempt crossing reservoir in open canoes during windy conditions. Wind, which tends to funnel into narrows just east of DNR campground, can whip up in minutes. South shore bordered by steep rock, offering no chance to bail out.
New addition to Riverside State Park sits at elbow in river canyon, distinguished by rock islands and outcroppings and a V-shaped cove. Picnicking allowed on undeveloped shoreline, but no overnight camping on park property.
Granite outcroppings and islands at State Park addition are fun to explore by canoe or kayak. Rock islands covered with kinnikinnick, occasional pine.
Route would be excellent spring and fall trip, except that Washington Department of Natural Resources doesn’t open gate to put-in campground and boat launch until Memorial Day. Gate locked again after Labor Day. Area used to be open yearround until major improvements and boat docks installed. Now, to prevent costly vandalism, facility and access shut down nine months a year. You figure it.
Meanwhile, to take advantage of quiet during spring and fall months, consider longer optional route starting from Tumtum or Willow Bay Resort and paddling south to State Park addition.
Route would be 8 miles round trip starting from Tumtum. Nice paddling except first mile from Tumtum passes many private residences. Biggest benefit of alternate route: access year-round except when ice fills bays.
Area especially crowded with powerboats on Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Labor Day holidays, plus hot summer weekends.
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Map of Long Lake Paddle Tour
The following fields overflowed: SUPCAT = COLUMN - Routes: Classic Trips in the Inland Northwest