Check it out Distance: 4 miles round trip Difficulty: Mostly easy Hiking time: 2 hours
Season: Feb. through Nov. Maps: USGS Topo - Dartford Info: Riverside State Park 456-3964
Hiking trip notes
Access: To reach east trailhead, drive west from Mill Road 1-1/2 miles on Waikiki and take sharp left at sign toward St. George’s School. Drive 200 yards to trailhead sign and parking area on left. West trailhead parking is farther west on Rutter Parkway at Indian Painted Rocks parking area just north of Little Spokane River bridge.
Attractions: Exceptional wildlife habitat and chance of seeing variety of songbirds, hawks, owls, waterfowl, white-tailed deer and other critters. Studies show this area ranks as one of nation’s top spots for songbird diversity in summer. Trail gives higher overlook of Little Spokane River than trail heading west from Indian Painted Rocks. However, this route also includes two steep sections - price one pays for views.
Comments: From east trailhead, route climbs immediately up more than a dozen switchbacks before contouring hillside above St. George’s School.
From west trailhead, route offers less vigorous hikers about one mile of fairly gentle walking along streamside meadows and gradually heading up and into dryer zones and rock outcroppings. Trail heads steeply up road for one-half mile.
Trail can be bare of snow during prolonged winter thaws. Spring brings many wildflowers, including lupine and balsamroot in ponderosa pine forest, as well as camas in low meadows. Yellow iris abound along river in May and early June. By late June, trail is scented with flowering shrubs such as wild rose, ocean spray and dogwood. Near small seasonal wetland about three-quarters of a mile from west trailhead, poison ivy grows along north side of trail.
State park workers installed hiker icon signs to keep walkers on main route at several junctions with side trails. These trails are worth exploring. However, many lead to private property where trespassing is prohibited.
If using east trailhead, consider visiting Spokane Fish Hatchery. Short path leads from fish ponds south to Griffith Springs, hatchery’s year-round water source. Crews take spawn from trout in outside raceways on some weekdays in December and early January. Info: 625-5169.
West-end trailhead parking area doubles as canoe access to river. Expect it to be full on summer weekends.
Riverside State Park rules prohibit dogs, bikes, alcohol, fireworks or firearms. Also, no wading allowed in river’s sandy bottom. Park hours, 8 a.m.-dusk.
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Map of area
The following fields overflowed: SUPCAT = COLUMN - Routes: Classic Trips in the Inland Northwest
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