CHECK IT OUT
Distance: 2-1/2 miles
Difficulty: Mostly easy
Hiking time: 1 hour
Season: March through November
Maps: Dishman Hills Natural Area available at Northwest Map and Travel Service
Info: Spokane County Parks and Recreation, 465-4730
HIKING TRIP NOTES
Access: From Argonne Road in the Spokane Valley, drive west on Sprague Avenue 1/4 mile and turn south onto Sargent Road. Go straight on Sargent 1/4 mile, over short graveled stretch, to parking area at Camp Caro.
Attractions: Public natural area managed by Spokane County Parks Department is excellent destination for families or anyone else who wants quick hiking fix minutes from city chaos. Route is particularly splendid during April and May, when wildflowers are prolific, or in October, when hills are brilliant with autumn colors. Camp Caro has large grassy play area with playground equipment and restrooms.
Comments: Hills abound with flowers such as grass widows and arrowleaf balsamroot in April. Serviceberry blooms in May followed by wild rose, ocean spray and a who’s-who of the native plants that once flourished throughout the area.
From parking area, head south and take passageway through middle of log structure, which holds meeting room and restrooms. Angle left across grass onto old road that continues south to eye-catching rock formations at old Camp Caro camp site. Hike up steps and follow trail toward Goldback spring.
No camping allowed now in Dishman Hills. If you MUST bring pets, they have to be leashed.
Many spur trails have sprouted in Dishman Hills, but stay on main route. Pass bench and note Caro Cliff to left. Take first main trail heading right. Trail heads into Enchanted Ravine, where moss-covered rock walls close in. At next junction with a main trail, bear right again, heading gradually higher.
Just as trail bends due north into open terrain and just BEFORE it heads down toward East Pond, turn left on slightly less-used trail. Rock bluff is on your left as you head west to higher ground for views of Beacon Hill to north and Spokane Valley.
At next main trail junction, consider exploring aptly named Birch Hollow area, haven for thimbleberries, ferns and other plants, including poison ivy. However, at junction, featured route goes right, heading down and onto abandoned road.
Eventually, main trail heads right (east). After short way, well-used spur trail heading to right tips you off to East Pond, where birch and aspen can be brilliant with color in fall.
Here, too, it’s common to see poison ivy, which wears attractive ranges of yellow, orange and red colors in fall. Be sure to remind kids: “Leaves of three, let it be!”
Most trails heading from East Pond eventually lead to parking area. Featured route continues east to junction where it heads left and downhill short way to fork. Take left fork. Then take next good trail to right. Last few hundred feet of trail go down badly eroded hillside to gate that leads into Camp Caro play area.
As you enjoy this hike, thank founders of Dishman Hills Natural Area Association, who had foresight and dedication in the 1960s to raise money for purchasing and preserving this area.
Otherwise it would be just another subdivision site for people with homes too big to put anywhere else.
Dishman Hills Natural Area, 518 acres, managed by Spokane County Parks and Recreation Department, but county owns only 228 acres.
State Department of Natural Resources owns 70 acres, Dishman Hills association owns 220.
Contributions to existing natural area efforts to acquire more land in Dishman Hills area can be sent to Dishman Hills Natural Area Association, P.O. Box 14141, Spokane, WA 99214-0141.
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Map of dayhike area
The following fields overflowed: SUPCAT = COLUMN - Routes: Classic Trips in the Inland Northwest