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Little Spokane River Paddle Tour

Check it out Distance: 5-1/2 miles Difficulty: Mostly easy Paddling time: 1-1/2 - 2-1/2 hours Season: Year-round Maps: USGS - Dartford, Nine Mile Falls Info: Riverside State Park, 456-3964

Paddling trip notes

Access: In north Spokane, from junction of Waikiki and Mill roads, drive west on Waikiki 1-1/2 miles; take sharp left at sign toward St. George’s School. Drive 1/2 mile to road that leads down to put-in parking area. For shorter paddle trip, launch or take out at Indian Painted Rocks just north of Little Spokane River on Rutter Parkway.

To reach takeouts from St. George’s put-in: Drive back to Waikiki and head north then west (road becomes Rutter Parkway) 3 miles total to Indian Painted Rocks access site. Go uphill 3/4 mile to junction with Indian Trail Road and turn right, continuing on Rutter Parkway 2-1/4 miles to stop sign. Turn right onto Highway 291 (Nine Mile Road). Go 3/4 mile and turn left at milepost 10 onto paved access road. Takeout site is 1/4 mile west.

Attractions: Flatwater paddling on lazy spring creek that meanders through lush valley. Most of route included in 1,353-acre Little Spokane River Natural Area, largest freshwater marsh of its kind in Washington. Stream maintains roughly 55-degree temperature and fairly even flow year around, although flooding often occurs during spring runoff. Exceptional wildlife habitat offers chance to see songbirds, raptors, turtles, waterfowl, herons, white-tailed deer and other critters.

Comments: Route has no rapids or drops, but blowdown trees (sweepers) are possible. Portions of river have deadheads (stumps or pilings mostly hidden just below surface). Paddlers must be able to maneuver boats around several tight turns.

Always check with state park during spring flood stage since passage under one residential bridge may be impossible. Also, St. George’s put-in can be closed in winter when snow makes steep access road dangerous.

Note: St. George’s School area is private. Stay out.

From both put-in sites, boats must be portaged 100 yards on good trails from parking areas to launch sites.

River offers few places to stop and get out of boats. State rules prohibit wading and swimming to avoid disturbance to mucky river bottom. Remember, this is a natural area.

Painted Rocks put-in, takeout site is good snack stop. Pit toilets available at all three access points. No drinking water.

Avoid stopping or creating noise in area of blue heron rookery from spring through mid-July. Nests of herons that once produced chicks by the dozens in tall cottonwoods are diminishing, probably because of increased human disturbance.

Shortly after passing under Highway 291 bridge, begin looking for pull-out on left just before small rapids. Note: Natural area ends at Highway 291. Swimming and pets allowed in Little Spokane River downstream from bridge.

Natural area is 1,353 acres, co-managed by Riverside State Park and Spokane County. Sam Angove, former county parks director, spearheaded movement to preserve area in 1970s. Land gradually acquired; natural area designated in 1987. This is only natural area in State Parks system with special regulations prohibiting swimming, inner tubes and air mattresses.

State rules prohibit bringing pets, alcoholic beverages or firearms into natural area. Neither fireworks nor campfires allowed. Bicycles and motorized boats and vehicles prohibited on trails and river.

Human-powered boating and hiking permitted in park 6:30 a.m.-dusk during summer and 8 a.m.-dusk during winter season. Hiking allowed only on existing trails. Rules enforced by Riverside State Park rangers.

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Map of area

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