Spokane truly is in the center of a hiking paradise. I’ve lived here since 1993, and though I am an occasional runner, ride horses and my bicycle, I’ve been on surprisingly few hikes.
To be perfectly honest with you I’m intimidated by hiking. I’ve heard too many horror stories of hungry bears, debilitating blisters, lost toes and broken ankles. And then there is the gear. Holy moly.
I’ve made attempts at buying hiking boots, but every time I end up feeling completely lost in the boot department. I pick up random boots – squeeze the heel, twist the sole back and forth and check for, well, I don’t know what it is that I check for. It’s all a mystery to me.
I know I’m overthinking this, so I was delighted when a friend asked me to join her on a hike at Iller Creek in Spokane Valley. I wore my running shoes, good socks, shorts and a workout top – I slathered on sunscreen and out the door I went.
It took about 20 minutes for me to get from my downtown desk to the trailhead. Easy-peasy.
And that’s when the magic happened: suddenly I felt lightyears away from computers, buzzing phones and the dings of email. Surrounded by tall sweet-scented trees, birds and butterflies, I walked up the trail chatting with my socially distanced buddy and it was so amazingly nice to be outside.
It’s probably the best lunch break I’ve taken in years. We hiked in and out in about 40 minutes, and I headed back to my downtown desk with a clear mind, refreshed and relaxed.
That type of hiking is totally doable without investing in new boots, technical fabric jackets and trekking poles. It turned out I had everything I needed in my closet.
Other good destinations for beginners are the Fish Lake Trail (starts at the bottom of Sunset Hill) which is paved and easy to use for strollers and wheelchairs.
The Rocks of Sharon in the Dishman Hills Conservation Area is a bit steeper trail but offers spectacular views if you make it all the way to the top. I’m being told sunsets there are fantastic.
The James T. Slavin Conservation Area, just off the Pullman Highway, 15 minutes south west of town, offers flat land and level nature paths and lots of birds to watch.
Don’t wait – get out there and go – I promise that you will not regret it.
Resources: The ultimate guide to hiking in the Inland Northwest remains “100 hikes in the Inland Northwest: Eastern Washington, Northern Rockies and Wallowas” by Rich Landers.