Coure d'Alene Downtown

West Side Canfield Trail System

Downtown Spokane Riverfront

John C. Shields Park (Minehaha Climbing Area)

Riverside State Park

Greater Spokane Area

47°39’35.8″N 117°25’08.4″W

Randall Chapman | September 16th, 2018 | Travel

 

I prefer to be out in nature over a city most of the time, I moved from LA to Grand Junction CO to get away from city life back in 2005. I prefer to live out in the country, the simpler life, away from all the hustle and bustle. That said I appreciate the amenities that cities have to offer and I can appreciate a city that can find a balance between the two worlds. I spent about 3 weeks in the greater Spokane area on my journey up north and I’ve got to say that this is a metropolitan area that has a lot to offer as far as outdoor actives. With 215,000 people living in Spokane proper and about 557,000 in the Greater Spokane Area you can find all of the amenities of a large city combined with a ton of outdoor activity some within city limits and more just a short drive away. If that doesn’t sound like a lot to you it’s over half the population of the entire state of Montana, the forth largest state in the country.

Downtown Coure d’Alene

While Coure d’Alene is across the boarder in Idaho it is only 33 miles from Spokane and the land between is mostly developed making it more of a suburb of Spokane. Coure d’Alene has a huge reservoir with all of the normal boating and other lake activities. I have an aunt that lives just outside of Coure d’Alene in Post falls so I spent a week visiting her. I was there the week of 4th of July so when I tried to go down to the marina to launch my touring kayak there was no parking within 10 miles of the lake so I didn’t get any kayaking in but I did do a lot of hiking. One of the trails we hiked was around Tubbs Hill, a hill just off the marina that offers a handfull of loops that overlook the reservoir and marina. We hiked a 3.5 mile loop that brought us through the downtown area where we stopped for lunch and a beer at the Iron Horse Bar and Grill. It was nice to combine a little nature with a cool downtown scene and some good food.

West Side Canfield Trail System

I also took a day to hike about 9 miles of the West Side Canfield Trail System which is in the hills between Coure d’Alene and Lake Hayden. Really cool multi use trail system where dirt bikes, mountain bikes, equestrian and hikers are welcome to enjoy the area. There were some great overlooks of both lakes and the trees and plant life really added to the experience.

Downtown Spokane Riverfront

My Aunt also took me to Downtown Spokane were we walked around the Riverfront Park and walked several miles down stream on the Centennial Trail. Spokane falls is a diversion where the power company uses the falls to generate electricity. There was a water fall here before the damn was built and part of it still is natural. We walked down to the bottom of the lower falls along a path built by the city with interpretive signs and beautiful sculptures. From here you also get a good view of the Monroe Street Bridge built in 1911.

We walked past the Spokane City Hall, an art deco building built for the Montgomary Ward Co in 1929 and was converted into city hall in 1981. This is a beautiful building with a lot of detail sculpted into it.

From City Hall we crossed over the Monroe Street Bridge and headed west on the Centennial Trail to Centennial Trail Park where we we able to hike down to the crystal clear water. We crossed over the river on the Sandifur Memorial Bridge, a man bridge built for pedestrian traffic that gives access to the trails on both sides of the river. The Bridge has taken on a new meaning for some though, in the tradition of Pont des Arts in Paris people have been attaching pad lock known as “Love Locks” to the bridge and tossing the key over the side. We crossed the bridge but this was our turnaround point so we headed back downtown.
We hiked back up to the Riverfront Park downtown, this is a really cool park right on the river with a beautiful clock tower, a ginormous Radio Flyer wagon that has a slide and some great views of the two falls that make up the upper and lower Spokane Falls. One of the cooler downtown scenes I’ve seen.

As I said good bye to my Aunt and started my trek back down south by way of eastern Washington and Oregon I stopped off at one of the local climbing gyms in Spokane, The Block Yard, and found out that a guy I knew from the trade shows, Adam Healy, was part owner of the gym. He also owns Solve Climbing Holds and him and I had several conversations at the shows when I owned PUR. I hung out with Adam and set routes at his gym, a really fun gym that was designed and built by Adam and his partners, It also gave me the opportunity to set with some Solve holds, rad shapes. Adam was super hospitable and let me crash in his driveway, even got an interview with him while I was there.

Minnehaha

There’s something about a city that has a climbing area 10 min from it’s downtown, especially when the climbing is good. While there isn’t a plethora of routes here there is a good mix of roped climbs and bouldering. The locals describe it as ok but I found the climbing here to be quite fun, and it’s 10 min from downtown. Out of the same park there are also hiking mountain bike trails and the river is just across the street.

Riverside State Park

In the early 1930’s, during the Great Depression, land was given to the state of Washington by local citizens to be turned into a state park. The State, not having enough money to build any infrastructure almost had to reject the donation till the Civilian Conservation Corps was formed and offered to place Company 949 here. The CCC was one of FDR’s “New Deal” programs and they operated here from 1933 till the US entered WWII in 1942 and all government resources were directed to war efforts. While here the CCC built several roads and a bridge at the Bowl and Pitcher. They had a camp here built with temporary structures but a fire place and chimney and the concrete foundation of one of the buildings still remain.

I spent almost two weeks camping near this park in the Walmart parking lot and spent a lot of time hiking here as I was getting back in shape. There is a lot of trails here ranging in length and the one I kept working on was 18 miles round trip though the longest I managed was 15 miles of it, one more week and I could have gotten it. I did find out that the place I was parking wasn’t the best place to park as one of the last times I hiked this trail someone smashed my window and went through my glove box and center conceal, as far as I can tell they only took my camp chair. Up until this I was wondering why all the parking lots said they had video surveillance, except for this one.  I don’t hold it against the area though, shit heads are everywhere and it’s just a reminder not to leave anything in the cab of the truck and leave the doors unlocked, windows are expensive and not a very good theft deterrent.

This is an amazing park and I seldom saw others, though there were several other people there enjoying it.  There is such a vast network of trails many times I felt like I was the only one there, it may have helped that I was there during the week while most people were at work. If you go here I recommend trail #25, lame name sure, but it has diverse scenery as it hikes along an old railroad line where the tracks have been removed then loops back along the river. As you hike along the old railroad line you walk along the base of a cliff that looks as though a giant was spitting volcanic spit wads at it. It’s an old volcanic flow. As the trail follows closer to the river the insects are greater but it is so beautiful it’s worth dealing with them.

Spokane was a pretty amazing place and if I had to live in a city I think I could live there. It’s not too crowded, yet, and the outdoor activity close by is only topped by the activities you can do just outside of town. All the locals told me I had barely scratched the surface. If you haven’t been to Spokane yet I highly recommend it, just don’t leave anything in your car.

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