June 30, 2012 in Washington Voices

Liberty Lake park a hidden treasure

By The Spokesman-Review
 
Colin Mulvany photoBuy this photo

A volleyball game is played on the beach at Liberty Lake Park on Wednesday. The park is one of the largest county parks in the state, with 3,000 acres of forest, mountainous areas, public beach and campground.
(Full-size photo)

More information

 Liberty Lake Regional Park is open seasonally from dawn to dusk. Admission is $2 for everyone 6 and older and free for children 5 and younger.

 Tent camping is $20 per day and includes one vehicle. RV camping is $28 a day and includes two vehicles. Those fees include entrance to the park for four people. Additional campers are $2 each, with a maximum of eight campers per site. There is a $7 reservation fee.

 Reservations for the sites can be made at www.spokanecounty.org/parks.

 For more information, call Spokane County Parks and Recreation at (509) 477-4730.

Summer activities

This summer, we’ll feature fun things to do with your kids throughout the greater Spokane Valley area.

If you have any suggestions, call Lisa Leinberger at (509) 459-5449, or email lisal@spokesman.com.

Whether you are into camping, fishing, swimming in the lake, picnics or just enjoy sitting under a tree reading a book, you can do all of that at Liberty Lake Regional Park, 3707 S. Zephyr Road.

“A lot of people don’t know about this place,” said Spokane County Recreation Program Manager Angela Simmons.

Liberty Lake Park is on the southeast edge of Liberty Lake. The drive there is worth the trip by itself, with stunning views of the lake from above and wildlife such as deer peeking out of the trees.

The park has been part of Spokane County Parks and Recreation since 1966, but was originally part of the resorts that sprung up in the area during the early years of the 20th century.

The lake was originally named Lake Grier in 1858 by Col. George Wright to honor one of his fallen officers. Etienne Eduard Laliberte, who later changed his name to Stephen Liberty, settled in the area a few years later and the name of the lake was changed to Liberty.

In 1930, the Miller family purchased the land. The Millers sold the land – 2,983 acres – to the county in 1966. Today, the park covers more than 3,500 acres.

“It’s one of the largest county parks in Washington state,” Simmons said.

Today, visitors can lounge and swim on its public beach. Lifeguards are on duty from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. There are paddle boats for rent and you can fish off the dock. People catch catfish, sunfish, carp, a rare trout and bluegills – nothing very large.

A new playground stands near the park entrance, and the park shelter can be rented for reunions or other events, but most of the time it’s open on a first-come, first-served basis.

A small amphitheater is nestled at the bottom of a slope just past the shelter. Simmons said many people rent it for weddings.

The campsite this year has some new services, most notably camp hosts who live at the site during the summer months to answer questions, take care of some maintenance and sell firewood if campers need it, although the park encourages foraging for firewood to reduce fire fodder.

Dan and Benjie Thomas are the first to volunteer as camp hosts. Dan Thomas said he was looking online for a place to camp. When he arrived in the middle of May he learned of the position of camp host and now the couple plan to stay through September.

“This was too good an offer to turn down,” he said.

With the Fourth of July coming up, the camp expects a lot of visitors, although fireworks are not allowed at the park.

The Thomases are from Wyoming and this is their first turn as camp hosts anywhere.

“I can’t complain about nothing, darn it,” Dan Thomas said.

Other new features include online reservations and updated signage.

Liberty Lake Regional Park also offers an equestrian trail, an off-road vehicle park and trails.

The hiking trail near the campground boasts a waterfall and cedar groves. Simmons said the county has received a grant to widen the trail next year.

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