Part 1: Nine Mile to McLellan
The Washington/Idaho Centennial Trail is a mixed-use recreational path that follows the Spokane River from Nine Mile Falls northwest of Spokane, Wash., to Lake Coeur d'Alene in Idaho. The western segment is the Spokane River Centennial Trail and eastern segment
is the North Idaho Centennial Trail. The two meet at the Washington/Idaho
border and extend in either direction for a total of more than 60 miles. In
this series of essays, I am describing segments of the trail beginning at its
westernmost point and moving east. The Washington
segment of the trail is numbered from east to west, beginning at the
Washington/Idaho border, so my account will "begin at the end" and proceed in
reverse order with respect to the signed mileage.
Mile 37: Nine Mile Dam/Carlson
To reach this trailhead, take Exit 280A off of
Interstate 90. Turn right immediately on Walnut, which will become Maple.
Follow Maple to Francis and turn left. Francis becomes State Route 291/Nine Mile Road. Take this
all the way to Nine Mile Dam, where you will turn left and cross the dam on Charles Road. Turn
left on Carlson Road
(just before the ranger station). You'll see Mile Marker 37 on the road as you
drive past the ranger station and through Sontag Park.
Drive 0.4 miles up the road to Carlson Trailhead. Pit toilets are available.
The first 0.4 mile of the Spokane River Centennial Trail (the segment you
have just driven, from Mile Marker 37 to Carlson Road Trailhead) is obviously
shared with cars. From the Carlson Trailhead, you begin a two-mile segment of
a bike/pedestrian trail from which cars are excluded. This segment, as with most
of the Centennial Trail that lies within Spokane's
Riverside State Park, is actually a former
roadway, the Aubrey L. Wright
Parkway, which was largely closed to vehicular traffic in 1990. The route is therefore wide and paved,
making for excellent bicycling and easy walking.
Mile 36: Deep Creek Canyon
Descending down the path, you will see Mile Marker 36.
As with most miles of the trail, it is clearly marked with a numbered post as
well as paint on the path. The Mile Marker Posts also list any individuals or
groups who have "adopted" that particular mile.
Shortly beyond Mile Marker 36, you will come to the Deep Creek Canyon Bridge.
Just before the bridge, on your right, is the trailhead for Deep Creek Canyon, with benches and an
informational kiosk. This side trail is an excellent route to explore, and will
be covered in a subsequent column.
Mile 34.5: McLellan Overlook Trailhead
Cross the bridge at Deep
and continue along the main trail. Along most of this route, the sleepy Nine
Mile Reservoir section of the Spokane
River is visible to your
left. Horses are not allowed on the asphalt, but equestrians share this general
route via dirt trails on either side of the paved parkway.
After a total of 2.5 miles, you will reach the McLellan Overlook Trailhead,
with parking, a pit toilet, informational kiosk, and an impressive view of the
If you wish to leave a shuttle car here, follow the same initial directions
off of Interstate 90 as far as Nine
Mile Road. Once you are on Nine Mile Road, watch for a left turn
onto Seven Mile Road
-- it will be just past a golf course and is clearly marked. Take Seven Mile Road
across the Spokane
River and turn right on Riverside Park Drive.
Proceed past horse stables, through a small residential enclave, and up this
road to the trailhead. Otherwise, turn around for a nice five-mile round-trip
hike, perhaps exploring the mouth of Deep
along the way.
Rules And Regulations
Trailheads within Riverside State Park, including both Carson and McLellan,
require Washington State's Discovery
Pass be purchased and
displayed on your vehicle. Passes are $30 annually or $10 a day and can be
purchased at the Ranger Station near Carlson Trailhead or (with an additional
fee) at many sporting goods retailers throughout the Spokane area. For more
information about the trails, including other rules and regulations, visit http://www.spokanecentennialtrail.org
Sally O'Neal is a Pacific Northwest native who enjoys hiking and biking the Centennial Trail when she visits Spokane,
Wash., or Post Falls, Idaho.