Spokane Parks and Recreation will offer kayak rentals on the Little Spokane River this summer.
“It should be fun,” said Ryan Griffith, assistant recreation director for Spokane Parks and Recreation. “I hope people utilize it.”
The new program will start July 3. Rentals will be available every weekend until Sept. 5. Rentals will cost $49 per person.
Groups of five or more can rent the single-person, sit-on-top kayaks for $40.
The rental includes a paddle, PFD and shuttle service. Spokane Parks will also email participants a safety video and a self-guided tour map before their trip. Rentals will be available from 10 a.m. until 12:30 p.m.
There will be 12 kayaks available each day. The kayaks will be at the St. George’s put-in and must be reserved online ahead of time. There will be no on-site rentals available, Griffith said.
Kayakers can then go down the Little Spokane River, ending at the confluence with the Spokane River at the Highway 291 takeout. The trip takes about three hours.
Griffith urged people to park at the Highway 291 takeout and take a shuttle to the St. George’s put-in. Parking is limited at St. George’s, although it’s possible to park at the St. George’s put-in, space permitting.
The Little Spokane Natural area is a 1,500-acre preserve along a river that would otherwise be off-limits to the public.
“It’s kind of an educational partnership as well,” Griffith said. “We really want to educate people on the use of the natural area. What a gem to have that in our backyard.”
In 1900, the Washington Supreme Court ruled the Little Spokane River to be non-navigable. That gave property owners the right to stop public use of the river where it flows through their land.
Former Spokane County Parks Director Sam Angove, along with the late river residents Morey and Margaret Haggin and others, secured the natural area for public use in 1985. Per the natural areas rules swimming, drinking and other activities are prohibited in an effort to “conserve a unique natural environment.”
Last week, Washington State Parks banned stand-up paddleboards on the Little Spokane, citing this particular state law and arguing that those are more likely to get into the water. The decision has prompted a flurry of condemnation.
The county eventually transferred management authority to Riverside State Park. A Washington Discover Pass is required in vehicles parking at Little Spokane River access sites, including both the St. George’s put-in and the Highway 291 take-out.
It’s a beautiful stretch of river and it’s not uncommon to see moose and other wildlife, Griffith said.
Few places in the United States have such a diversity of bird species, according to birding surveys. The spring-fed river is flourishing with reptiles, waterfowl, furbearers, fish and more.
“We want to leave that area as pristine an environment as possible,” he said.
Shuttle program also starting
Spokane Parks and Recreation has offered a shuttle between the Highway 291 takeout and the St. George’s put-in since 2013. The shuttle, which costs $10 per person per ride, runs every weekend between July 3 and Sept. 5.
Other outdoor recreation programs ramp up
After canceling most outdoor recreation programs in 2020, Spokane Parks and Recreation is gearing up for a full summer slate of activities, Griffith said.
Aside from a few pandemic-related restrictions, programs will run as normal. In particular, an outdoor adventure program for teenagers between 15 and 18 and stand-up paddleboard programs are back.
“We’re going for it,” he said. “Everything is open.”
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