Lowland waterfalls great spring hike destinations

Upper Towell Falls on BLM’s Escure Ranch south of Sprague, Wash. (Rich Landers)
Upper Towell Falls on BLM’s Escure Ranch south of Sprague, Wash. (Rich Landers)

With water, water everywhere this spring, lowland waterfalls are dazzling attractions for hikers.

Following are examples of good Inland Northwest early-season dayhikes that lead to uplifting falls.

• Liberty Creek Falls in Liberty Lake County Park:

• 6 miles round trip.

• Info: spokanecounty.org/parks/

From the park campground, follow the well-marked trail up Liberty Creek to the cedar grove and continue a short way farther upstream to the falls.

The flows have been excellent for weeks, but soon will taper off to a cascade.

• Palouse Falls : Palouse Falls State Park.

• 1-4 miles round trip.

• Info: parks.wa.gov/parks/

The drive to this isolated oasis south of Washtucna, Wash., is rewarded with a spectacular view of Palouse (River) Falls plunging 185 feet over a basalt ledge. Hike the paved walkways at the overlook or venture farther.

A trail heads upstream for closer views, then down along the railroad tracks before dropping down the embankment past the upper falls close enough to get wet from the spray. The trail continues to the very lip of the main falls. Extreme caution is advised.

Towell Falls: BLM Escure Ranch Recreation Area:

• 6.4 miles round trip.

• Info: tinyurl.com/EscBLM

Although the old ranch road leading to the waterfall will be open to motorized vehicles for another couple of weeks, hikers might prefer to park their cars at the trailhead and enjoy the spring walk along Rock Creek south of Lamont, Wash.

From Sprague, Wash., drive south 12.2 miles on state Route 23 and turn right onto Davis Road. Drive about 7 miles and turn left on Jordan Knott Road. Drive 2.1 miles and turn right into the to the the U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s Rock Creek-Escure Ranch Recreation Area. Drive 2 miles to the parking area.

Elk Creek Falls: Colville National Forest:

• 2.1 miles round trip

• Info: fs.fed.us/r6/colville/

Elk Creek Trail 560 leads through a variety of habitats, from open meadow and aspens to timber. The highlight is a waterfall – a cooling respite in summer and a stunning torrent in spring.

On June 25, Forest Service wildlife biologist Mike Borysewicz of Sullivan Lake will lead a naturalist’s tour of the Elk Creek Trail starting at 10 a.m. Details: (509) 446-7500.

From Metaline Falls, follow state Route 31 north for 2 miles. Turn right on County Road 9345 toward Sullivan Lake and drive just over 4 miles. Turn right to the trailhead at Mill Pond Historic Site. The trail heads back up and crosses to the north side of the paved road.

Spokane Falls: downtown Spokane:

• 1-5 miles

• Info: spokaneparks.org/

Spokane enjoys one of the best waterfall shows in the region, adding to the thrill of urban hiking between Monroe Street upstream to the Kardong Bridge near Gonzaga University.

On Saturday, Spokane Parks and Recreation is organizing the third annual Spokane Bridge Walk, which leads walkers at their own pace on a water-lover’s route that crosses 17 bridges as it zigzags the river. Register 9:30-10:30 at the Veteran’s Court on the river’s north bank between Post and Monroe streets.

It’s a Parks fundraiser. Cost: Adults $19, teens $12.

Preregister: 625-6200.

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Rich Landers

Rich Landers

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