Construction on the Phillips Creek Trailhead in the Dishman Hills Natural Area got underway last week with the goal of opening to the public by the end of June.
The trailhead near the intersection of Cimmaron Drive and Sunderland Drive in the Ponderosa neighborhood is on the former Flying L Ranch, which was owned by the family of Lloyd Phillips. The former ranch was purchased by Spokane County Parks and Recreation in 2018 using the Conservation Futures program to add the 179-acre plot to the Dishman Hills Natural Area.
“They’ve been moving pretty quick up there,” said Spokane County Park Planner Paul Knowles.
The County spent the last two years getting public input on plans to add a trailhead and trails to the newly public land. The trailhead location was picked because it is in the Ponderosa neighborhood and close to Ponderosa Elementary School. Another site under consideration for a trailhead was more remote, Knowles said.
“It had several benefits to that location,” he said. “It was closer to an active street and residences, so we have eyes and ears in the area.”
When finished the trailhead will include 20 parking spaces as well as wide shoulders for school bus parking. “It is basically the sister parking lot to the Glenrose parking area on the other side,” he said.
Trailhead construction is being paid for with $300,000 from the County’s real estate excise tax funds and $25,000 from the Conservation Futures maintenance fund. The parking lot will have lighting as well as a web camera people can access online to see if the parking lot is full before they head out the door. The parking lot will be fully paved and there will be a portable toilet on site.
The one hitch has been trail construction. Because of the pandemic the County doesn’t have the work crews it would ordinarily have, Knowles said. But volunteers, some with the Spokane Mountaineers, have been going up and building a trail on their own.
“I think they’ve got 3,000 linear feet of trail,” he said. “It is amazing to see how much progress they’ve made just as volunteers.”
An existing small dirt road in the area at the trailhead will remain, but be gated off. It leads to private property owned by Glenn McPhee, who has discussed plans to develop his land in the past. Phillips granted McPhee a road easement across the property so the road will remain, Knowles said.
“The easement is still there,” he said.
If the private land is ever developed, the landowner will be responsible for paying for road improvements, Knowles said. It is not something the County could or would pay for, he said.
Knowles said he doesn’t anticipate the dirt road being an issue. “The way the trail is being designed and built will send people away from the road almost immediately,” he said.
The trail will be 2.2 miles long when finished, but Knowles said he’s not sure when that will be. The County hopes to complete the first section of the trail this year, connecting the trail to old ranch roads that crisscross the parcel.
What is being built will connect to the trailhead.
“It’s a beautiful trail,” he said. “I think people are going to be really excited.”
The trailhead will open as soon as major construction work is done, Knowles said. Landscaping work will likely be finished in the fall. Knowles said he anticipates the trailhead being popular.
“I’ve seen a lot of neighbors up there,” he said.
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