Near Nature, Near Perfect

By: Kate Vanskike

When Spokane adopted this as its slogan a few years ago, locals enjoyed poking fun at it.  But the fact is, we DO have exceptional access to a ton of great spots for everyone who needs a nature fix.  I have hosted guests from other regions who are amazed at how much they could see and do within such a short distance from our city’s hub.  Here are a few of my favorites:

  • Riverside State Park – paved trails for biking/walk and natural trails for hiking, plus really great spots for kayaking or rafting.  (Don’t forget you need a WA State Parks pass for your car if you take one.)
  • Mount Spokane – Going up to the Vista House is an adventure in itself, as the tiny, narrow road takes hairpin curves along the side of the mountain, with no shoulder and no guardrails.  More than one of my flatlander friends have suffered a little anxiety from this, but those who come from much larger mountains think of ours as just a big hill. However big or small it seems, the views from the top are unmatched anywhere else in the region.  On a clear day, you can see all the lakes of North Idaho, the spread of Spokane and Valley areas, and as far as Canada.  Take a windbreaker and some peanuts for the friendly chipmunks.  (Note that the road to the top is only open May – September.)
  • Centennial Trail – Sure, it runs through campus and gets you downtown quickly, but there are 40 miles of it to explore.  To the east, you wind along the river through mostly flat terrain and will pass several places perfect for a swim or just sitting by the water.  It continues through North Idaho and deposits you at Lake Coeur d’Alene if you wish. To the west, the trail rambles out to Riverside State Park where you face more hills and higher vistas over the bluffs.
  • The Palouse – Want a quiet country drive to clear your mind?  Driving through the Palouse (that’s what we call those rolling fields of wheat south of town) is a nice departure from the city during any season.  In the spring, those hills sport every color of green imaginable.  In the fall, you might come across deer and moose.  In the winter, the blankets of snow on the hills are sort of magical.  This is the perfect excursion when you want to slow down.


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