Spokane is a beautiful place to call home, especially for those who love the outdoors. The lakes, rivers, and forests surrounding the city provide many amazing activities. My name is Zach Nichols and I was raised in Spokane. To this day, I call Spokane home. I'm an outdoor travel and wedding photographer and love capturing photos of the beautiful forests and sights I come across while hiking in the area.
I've listed four of my favorite outdoor places to visit around Spokane and some activities for each location. There is so much more to do and see in the area, but this blog focuses on locations close to Spokane.
Mt. Spokane is one of Spokane’s most beautiful gems and my personal favorite spot to hike and explore. Many people only visit the park during the winter to ski and snowboard but there are some amazing activities there during the summer and fall as well.
During the summer months, there are beautiful campgrounds to stay at overnight and the Vista House at the summit is also available to visitors. There is even a road that winds all the way to the summit which makes it easily accessible. At the Vista House, there are picnic tables outside with incredible views toward Spirit Lake; perfect for a midday or afternoon picnic.
During late summer and early fall, you can find and pick huckleberries all around the upper parts of the mountain. It is a fun activity for families and the berries are very abundant in the area. If you do choose to pick the berries, be gentle with the plants and cautious of any bears. Though sightings are rare, there are many black bears in the area.
When visiting Mt. Spokane, it is recommended to wear hiking boots or good walking shoes and bring bug spray, bear spray, water, and a warm jacket. To access this area during the summer a Discover Pass is required, and during the winter a Snow Park Pass is required unless you are skiing or snowboarding at Mt. Spokane Ski & Snowboard Park.
Indian Canyon - Mystic Falls
Indian Canyon - Mystic Falls consists of a beautiful fir forest and a seasonal waterfall. There is a trail that goes around the park which makes for very easy walking during the spring and summer months. The waterfall only flows in the spring and fall or after rainy days during the summer. The trek down to the base of the waterfall can be difficult so bring hiking boots if you wish to see it from the bottom as well as bug spray. Also, be aware that there are cliffs on either side of the waterfall so take caution. Make sure to keep an eye on your children and pets.
Rocks of Sharon
The Rocks of Sharon is a fantastic place to hike year-round. The trail leading to the rocks is a decent walk and the views of the Palouse from the top are amazing. From spring until the first snow, the trail is easily walkable and is moderately trafficked. During the snowy months, the trail is still accessible and can be walked with snowshoes and/or microspikes.
The trail begins at the Rocks of Sharon parking lot. When hiking this trail, be sure to bring bug spray, water, a snack, and good walking shoes. Big Rock does offer multi-pitch rock climbing, complete with anchors; but should only be attempted by experienced and educated outdoor rock climbers.
Spokane River - Eagle Watching
From spring until early fall, the Spokane River offers a lot of great outdoor activities. From floating to fishing, kayaking, and boating. It has something for everyone.
However, one thing not everyone may know is that every winter between November and February, a few hundred bald eagles flock to the Spokane and Coeur d’ Alene region. The peak of eagle season is from the end of November through the month of December.
Many of the eagles come to the region to feast on Kokanee Salmon found at lake Coeur d’ Alene around the North-Eastern end of the lake. Some of the most popular places to view the eagles in the area are at Higgins Point and around Wolf Lodge Bay; specifically Mineral Ridge and Mineral Ridge Boat Launch. In Spokane, one can find eagles at many of the lakes and around the Spokane River. There have also been many sightings around Mt. Spokane as well.
Though bald eagles are no longer on the endangered species list, they are still federally protected. When viewing these animals, it's important to view from a distance and do not attempt to feed or bait them. Also, be mindful of others and do not stop along any roads or highways to view these animals. Find proper turn-outs and park off the main road when stopping to view or photograph them and be sure to bring binoculars or a telephoto lens if you are a photographer.