Hiking In Spokane With Kids: 12 Best Family-Friendly Parks And Trails
We love being in the American Northwest! During our time in the eastern Washington city of Spokane, we have been enjoying exploring all the places for hiking in Spokane.
Washington state is an outdoor lover’s dream. Besides camping in Washington state, visitors can go hiking, boating, and take road trips to explore all the many places across this unique state. With mountains, lakes, rivers, oceans, forest, volcanos, and rainforests, the state has a very diverse array of natural beauty to offer visitors.
While the eastern part of the state has more farmland and less dense forests than the western part, there are still plenty of outdoor options for families. The city of Spokane, especially, is full of places for families who enjoy hiking. And many of these places for hiking in Spokane are either within the city limits or less than half an hour away from the city center!
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Things to know about hiking in Spokane
The city of Spokane, WA is located in the eastern part of the state, close to the Idaho state border. While farmland surrounds the city, there are plenty of forests within and around the city to hike through as well. Visitors to Spokane can take their pick of exploring rivers, hills, mountains, and forests during their outdoor excursions. And several lakes are within an hour driving distance from the city.
Many of the parks in Spokane that offer hiking are within the city limits, but some are on the outskirts. In either case, you’ll need a car to access these hikes, as the Spokane bus system is fairly limited. Wear shoes that can traverse through rocky terrain. During my summer hikes, I like wearing my Chaco sandals because the soles keep my feet supported and the straps keep the sandals securely on my feet. But if it’s colder, you may want to get some hiking boots instead.
Families may also want to bring along tick spray, as ticks are prevalent in this part of Washington state, especially during the summer months. Bringing a water bottle is helpful too, as Spokane can get very hot and dry. We like our GRAYL water bottle because it filters and purifies water. So we can get water from anywhere, even the river!
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Want to spend more time in Spokane? Take a look at my other Spokane posts to get ideas of things to do in the city.
Social distancing tips while hiking in Spokane
These days, families should also be mindful of social distancing, even while out on the trails. Since many museums and indoor activity options are closed, families are looking elsewhere for things to do with their kids. As such, many of the parks and trails in the city are seeing a lot more foot traffic.
When hiking in Spokane with your family, be sure to wear a mask, or have one on hand that you can easily slip on when passing another hiking group. Some families prefer tubular bandanas as it’s easier to slip on and off.
Keep your distance from other hiking groups as much as possible. Six feet is the recommended distance for maintaining proper social distancing. Carry along a bottle of hand sanitizer in your day bag for after the hike.
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Finding the best spots for hiking in Spokane with your kids
Spokane has a population of over 200,000, and is considered the largest city between Seattle, WA and Minneapolis, MN. The city has over 125 official parks, which the Spokane parks department lists on their website. Families looking for short urban hikes, or just green spaces, can refer to this list.
In terms of spots for hiking in Spokane, our favorite ones are often located near the Spokane River. This river runs through the city of Spokane, and there are many parks and conservation areas located near the river. Another option for good hiking spots are hills. Spokane has several hilly areas in the city, and they provide beautiful views of the city.
When I was researching hiking spots for this post, I often used Google Maps and looked for all the green spaces on the map. You can often find trailheads on Google Maps, and read reviews from other hikers about their experiences on the trail.
Washington Trails Association also has an interactive map with icons for trails that you can click through to read information about the trails. As always, when hiking, aim to be responsible in your travels, and leave everything the way you found it.
Options close to downtown for hiking in Spokane
While many of the hiking trails in Spokane are located on the outskirts of the city, there are a couple of urban trails that families can visit. The two I’ve listed are close to downtown Spokane, and overlook the Spokane River.
Getting to these trails is relatively easy with a car, and you’ll be able to park on the street. There are also parking garages and parking lots downtown with fairly inexpensive rates. The two trails listed here are both paved, so you don’t have to worry about wearing special shoes.
1. Riverfront Park
Riverfront Park is the city’s main park, located in the downtown area, along the Spokane River. Covering over 100 acres, the park has playgrounds, attractions, and trails, and is a favorite among families for things to do in Spokane. It’s also surrounded by shops and restaurants, so it’s the perfect in-city nature retreat for families. We like visiting Riverfront Park because of the views of Spokane Falls.
If your family is looking for hiking in Spokane without wanting to go too far, you can follow the paved trails around the park. The surfaces are pretty flat and smooth, so it’s ideal for wheelchairs and strollers. Street parking is available around Riverfront Park, and there are several parking lots nearby where you can park your car for a small fee.
2. Centennial Trail
The Centennial Trail is a 40 mile trail that winds through the city of Spokane, along the Spokane River. Walkers, bikers, and skaters like using this paved trail all year round. And families can enjoy beautiful views of the Spokane River as they walk along the trail. In the parts of the trail that are close to downtown, the terrain is fairly flat. So this is a good option for strollers and wheelchairs.
The trail is accessible at various locations throughout the city, as it runs from east to west along the river. We started our hike on the Centennial Trail around the Gonzaga University campus, but some other pretty places to start are east near Camp Sekani Park or west near Riverside State Park. Street parking is usually available around the trail, but it depends on the location of the trail.
Options for hiking in Spokane on the West side
If you’re on the western side of the city, you have a few options for hiking out in nature. Many of the trails in this part of Spokane are about fifteen or twenty minutes away from the city center. Both of the parks listed here have parking lots where you can park your car.
3. Finch Arboretum
We love the diversity of nature that can be found in the Northwest. And at Finch Arboretum, you can find all sorts of trees, from pines to crab apple trees. There is a trail that goes around the perimeter of the park. But you can also just walk around the grounds of the park.
Finch Arboretum was created as a place where nature lovers can study trees. The collection of trees found at Finch Arboretum are mainly indigenous to eastern Washington, but there are also some trees that have been brought in from outside the area. There is a free parking lot at Finch Arboretum, with ample parking spaces for many visitors.
4. Palisades Park
One of the things we enjoyed about hiking in Spokane at Palisades Park is the view. Palisades Park has over 700 acres of conservation land and park land. There are trails that run along a ridge, offering views of downtown Spokane. And there are also trails that wind through forests. Most of the terrain is pretty flat. But there are some trails that are overgrown, so be sure to check for ticks when walking through the overgrown trails.
There is a dirt parking lot at the main trailhead where you can park your car. Parking is free. But be sure to lock your car and avoid leaving valuables out. Thearea is fairly secluded, so it’s easy for thieves to break into your car without being noticed.
Options for hiking in Spokane on the North side
The main option for hiking in Spokane on the northern side of the city is Riverside State Park. This is a big park, encompassing over 14,000 acres of land, stretching along the Spokane River in the northwestern part of the city. There are over 55 miles of hiking trails, and at least 3 campgrounds for tent and RV camping.
You’ll need a Washington State Discover pass to be able to enter the park. These are $10 for a one-day pass, and $30 for an annual fee. You can buy a Discover Pass at entrances to campgrounds at Riverside State Park.
5. Riverside State Park - Bowl and Pitcher
One of the popular areas for hiking in Spokane at Riverside State Park is Bowl and Pitcher. Early settlers named this area Bowl and Pitcher because of the giant basalt rock formations on the river that look like a bowl and a pitcher.
The trail features a swinging bridge, and also some narrow trails up and along hills. You’ll see views of the Spokane River both from the bridge and along various parts of the trail. Be prepared for some elevation gains, and wear good hiking shoes.
6. Riverside State Park - Deep Creek Canyon
Further north at Riverside State Park is Deep Creek Canyon. This hiking trail leads down to a dry creek bed, where you can hike along rocks. We enjoyed seeing all the various rock formations during our hike.
The trail also goes up into the forest, and has a fairly large elevation gain. If you have trouble climbing uphill, this may not be a suitable option for hiking in Spokane. Be sure to wear appropriate shoes when hiking along this trail, as you will be climbing up and down hills.
7. Riverside State Park - Indian Painted Rocks
Also north of Spokane is Indian Painted Rocks. We enjoy this hike because it winds along the Spokane River during various parts of the hike. On summer days, you can see paddleboarders and kayakers along the river.
This trail is fairly flat. However there are parts that have a lot of dirt and gravel. And you may need to climb over some boulders.
Be sure to wear appropriate hiking shoes when hiking on the trail. You can also see some pictographs on rocks at the beginning of the trail, painted there by Native Americans over 250 years ago.
Options for hiking in Spokane on the East side
There are several parks located on the eastern side of the city where families can hike. The landscape in many of these parks are hilly and dry, with fewer trees than the parks in the northern and western parts of the city. Some of these parks are also popular with mountain biking. So keep that in mind as you hike these trails, and be sure to share the space with other users of the trail.
8. Minnehaha Park
Minnehaha Park is located next to Esmeralda Golf Course in the eastern part of the city. The grounds of the park used to be the summer home of a local lawyer, but he later converted it to a spa in the late 1800’s, when he discovered mineral springs nearby.
The land was later converted into a brewery. Today, there is a playground and some tennis courts in the part of the park closest to the street.
There are trails for hiking in the hills behind the playground. The trails go up in elevation, and you can catch some nice views of the city from the hills. Be careful when climbing up the boulders as they can get pretty high.
9. Dishman Hills Natural Area
Another park with plenty of hilly trails is Dishman Mica Natural Area. Located in the neighboring city of Spokane Valley, this park has plenty of rocky hills for adventurous climbing kids. And a lot of space to run around!
The trails are pretty wooded with pine trees, and they offer several views of the city. They wind through the park, so there’s not one central trail, but many trails. And you’ll see some elevation change throughout the park. There are some small boulders and large rocks you can climb, so just be careful not to fall.
10. Camp Sekani Park
A popular mountain biking park in Spokane is Camp Sekani. Located right on the eastern border of the city, on the north bank of the Spokane River, this park offers numerous interwoven trails for mountain bikes. But families can use the trails as well for hiking in Spokane.
This park is fun for kids, as there are some boardwalks designed for bikers that the kids can hike along. There are also several fun downhills and curves that energetic kids can run on too! Remember to watch out for bikers, and give them plenty of space. There’s a gravel parking lot at the entrance of the park, located near the “Entering Spokane” sign.
Options for hiking in Spokane on the South side
In the southern part of the city, families have a couple of options for hiking in Spokane. This part of the city is one of the first neighborhoods to be built, so you’ll find a lot of boulevards with tall trees. Further south, the houses are much newer, but the natural land in this area is still filled with plenty of evergreens.
11. Manito Park
One of the oldest parks in the city, Manito Park offers some pretty options for urban hiking in Spokane. The park is over 90 acres, and has playgrounds, ponds, gardens, and a conservatory. It’s one of our favorite family friendly Spokane activities!
We like walking through Duncan Gardens, modeled after an English flower garden. And we also enjoy visiting the Japanese Garden. There are elevation gains at this park, but many of the trails are paved. There are free parking lots in various locations around the park.
12. Iller Creek Conservation Area
One of the most beautiful parks for hiking in Spokane is Iller Creek Conservation Area. This area is wooded with both evergreen and deciduous trees. The area also boasts views of the Palouse, and even Steptoe Butte, located more than 50 miles south of Spokane.
There is over 1,000 feet of elevation gain if you hike the whole trail, so be sure to bring water and proper shoes for hilly trails. Bears are known to roam the area, so be louder than normal when hiking in this area. You may even want to bring some bear spray. There is no parking lot at the trailhead, so park on the street.
Get the most out of your visit to Spokane. Here's how you can incorporate learning opportunities for your kids into your travel experiences.
Enjoying the outdoors while hiking in Spokane
We love exploring the beautiful nature of Washington state. It’s amazing that there are so many fun places for hiking in Spokane. And they’re all within a thirty minute drive from the city center!
If your family loves the outdoors like our family, then you won’t want to miss visiting Spokane and taking advantage of all the hiking options available in this city. Whether it’s urban hiking, state park hiking, or visiting the forests and hills around the city, there is something for hikers of all ages and abilities!
Have you gone hiking in Spokane? What’s your favorite place to hike in or around the city? Share in the comments!
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