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Riverside State Park offers fun, safe outings for the whole family

Rosalee Winkfield, 8, with teal vest, smiles as she hikes with her mother Sarah Winkfield  and sister Everly, 6,  on Tuesday, March 17, 2020, at Riverside State Park’s Bowl and Pitcher. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)

It’s a stressful time. A viral pandemic. People losing jobs. Markets crashing and borders closing.

Many of us are homebound with children, partners or pets. As much as we may love them, after a few days locked up together, our patience is sure to wane.

Luckily, getting outside offers a safe and healthy way to stay sane.

That doesn’t mean, of course, that you throw all caution to the wind.

As Jason Luthy points out in his column on today’s Outdoors page, “We know that recreation, particularly in times of stress and uncertainty, is important. But it’s up to us to work each day to adapt our nonessential actions in order to limit transmission.”

To that end, The Spokesman-Review will be sharing weekly local outdoor recreation options. We hope these stories inspire you to get outside and take your mind off the barrage of troubling news – if only for a moment.

First up: Riverside State Park.

It’s close to Spokane and, with 9,194 acres, offers lots of space to hike, run or bike safely.

Earlier this week, Washington State Parks announced that it will remain open, although it is making some changes. Those changes include closing visitor and interpretive centers, canceling most activities, programs and special permits, and restricting group camping and reservations.

Hiking is still on, and there are plenty of options.

For a good, kid-friendly introduction, check out the Bowl and Pitcher trail crossing the Spokane River over a wooden footbridge.

Look for the basalt rocks carved out by the raging water. As it continues to warm up, check out blooming buttercups, grass widows and balsamroot.

Be cautious, though, as the river is dangerous and the rocks can be deceptively slippery.

Once you cross the footbridge, you can follow trails upstream, downstream or away from the river. All routes offer great hiking or mountain biking.

If you’re looking for a nice view of the river, consider heading downstream. After crossing the bridge, turn right at the picnic shelter and hike behind the large basalt rocks seen from the bridge. The trail here is wide, roadlike even. Follow this for about 0.3 miles until it starts to turn back toward the river. Take another right onto a smaller footpath. This will take you to an overlook of the rapids.