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Wednesday, October 23, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Outdoors blog

Mount Spokane summer road closure based on safety, liability

The view looking east is stunning from the top of Mount Spokane at the Vista House. Below, is Spirit Lake and beyond that is Lake Pend Oreille at Farragut State Park. (Mike Prager)
The view looking east is stunning from the top of Mount Spokane at the Vista House. Below, is Spirit Lake and beyond that is Lake Pend Oreille at Farragut State Park. (Mike Prager)

STATE PARKS -- The summer closure of the Mount Spokane State Park Road, which is set to begin around July 11, is required for safety during road repairs and resurfacing, says Steve Christensen, park manager.

The recently announced closure plans will prevent public motorized access to the park from July 11 into October except for condominium owners and people with approved pre-planned events, such as races or volunteer projects.

Otherwise, huckleberry pickers, bird watchers and other visitors will have to park at the entrance or at Bear Creek Lodge and walk or ride their mountain bikes in.  The trails will be open to bicyclists and hikers, and so will the park campground.

Christensen explains:

"It's not my decision; it comes down from the engineers who are responsible for safety and liability," he said.

"There may be only a one way road at times and we don't have the staff to have somebody there to flag the road and let the public come back and forth."

During a road project years ago, the park allowed the road to be used by the public on weekends. "The difference is that there were two lanes available," he said. "And they'll be putting in a big box culvert."

The contractor will be given a list of people authorized to come into the park and they will be allowed in only during specified windows of time, he said.

Cris Currie of the Friends of Mount Spokane State Park reacted on Facebook to people protesting the restrictions and asking people to write the State Parks Commission:

July 11 is probably still the best guess as to when the road will close, but it is up to the contractor to determine the details for how to make the road repair project as efficient and cost effective as possible. They will be rebuilding the bottom part of the road to finish the project that was started several years ago when the road was closed in a similar way.

Since there has never been a proper road bed built, it is a big job. They will also be resurfacing all the way to the snowmobile parking lot, but that shouldn't take nearly as long.

Thanks in part to the efforts of the Friends Group, more people are now visiting the park in the summer and will be inconvenienced by the road closure. I would encourage you to have patience and realize that we are lucky to get so much attention and money from the state focused on our beloved park.

The alternative is continued neglect and infrastructure failure.... This summer would be a good time to explore the main entrance trails as well as the Day Road and Blanchard Creek Road entrances.

So, that's bad news for people used to driving to their sweet spot on Mount Spokane for the views and berries and sights such as wildflowers and wildlife.

But it could be the best year ever for solitude on the upper trails.

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Rich Landers
Rich Landers joined The Spokesman-Review in 1977. He is the Outdoors editor for the Sports Department writing and photographing stories about hiking, hunting, fishing, boating, conservation, nature and wildlife and related topics.

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