Spring is in. That means that we get to enjoy Spokane without a parka or a full-body down suit. For me, the newfound sunshine means there’s a chance to get off campus or maybe even out of town.
Water Locations & Destinations
This was my favorite go-to beach this summer to swim, even though the water was crazy cold. If you follow Upriver Drive for about five miles, you’ll find it on the right side of the road across from Camp Sekani. There’s a sandy beach as well as a cliff area with a tree limb that someone attached a rope to. I recommend watching the rope swingers, but don’t recommend swinging on the rope into the water.
Little Spokane River Natural Area
You can go boating or kayaking on the Little Spokane River in Riverside State Park. Beginning June 23, it offers a shuttle that takes kayakers upstream to start at Nine Mile Falls for $7. There is also a swimming hole in Pine Lake Park up north.
This one is a little outside of town, but a nice place to do some light hiking and go for a swim after. It's $2 per person to enter beginning on Memorial Day. It has a grassy park and a beach volleyball net, so bring your outdoor games.
Lake Coeur d’Alene
Located about a half hour from Spokane, Coeur d’Alene is a favorite for many to go swimming, window shopping or just to get out of town for a day.
"They have places to rent kayaks in town, but you can also swim,” said Madison Vaughn, a GU senior. “There’s also a place near town called Tubbs Hill where you can cliff jump.”
There are a few places in CDA where you can rent kayaks, stand up paddle boards and even float tubes if you’re willing to splurge up to $65 for a day.
I usually go to the public beach by downtown or head to the shoreline near North Idaho College.
This one is a little bit of a trek, but Priest Lake is one of the gems of the northwest.
“It’s not too close to campus, but definitely worth it to go for a swim or kayaking,” said Vaughn.
I went up to Priest Lake to camp at the end of the smoke and fire season in August and it was still gorgeous. You can swim, hike, fish or just hang out in the state parks on a nice weekend if you need to get out of town.
There are numerous public pools around Spokane, but they are closed until June 17 and filled with small children all summer. One of the closest to campus and most popular is near Mission Park called A.M. Cannon Aquatic Center.
Hiking Hot Spots
Liberty Lake, again
As mentioned earlier, Liberty Lake offers a fairly popular 8.3-mile-long loop to go hiking on a nice day and head to the lake after.
The Dishman Hills offer a few trails just outside of town if you’re not looking to venture too far from campus. Rocks of Sharon, Iller Creek and Glenrose Cliff are good local trails and have beautiful views of Spokane.
“It’s really beautiful on a sunny day to head out to Iller Creek or Bowl and Pitcher,” said junior Taylor Ritchy. “If you go earlier in the morning, it’s perfect.”
Ritchy also recommended a walk to Manito Park if you want to look at some cool gardens. Duncan Garden is a European style garden with a beautiful granite fountain built in 1913 that you might find on a guide to Spokane. Right next to Duncan Garden is the Gaiser Conservatory, which has both desert and tropical plants.
Riverside State Park
Riverside State Park has over 50 miles of hiking trails according to the state parks website. Here, you’ll find Bowl and Pitcher, Nine Mile Falls parks and more. A Discover Pass is required, which is the entry ticket to all Washington State Parks.
The bike shop on campus, run by Gonzaga Outdoors, offers bike rentals if you don’t have your own. It's $12 for a day or $20 for a week.
Ride on the Centennial Trail east, towards the border of Idaho or northwest to Nine Mile Falls. If you’re looking for a challenge, do the whole 40-mile path.
Dishman Hills, again
If you’re looking for mountain biking, the Dishman Hills has bike trails on Iller Creek and Riverside State Park, Beacon Hill and Indian trail have paths as well.
If you haven’t already, take a stroll on the Centennial Trail toward downtown. Riverfront Park may be under construction, but the trail still has a beautiful view on your trek towards coffee, shopping or dinner.
The Numerica Skyride, or the gondola as most may refer to it, is located right by Riverfront Park. It's $7.75 for a ride that lasts 15 minutes, taking you over the falls and under the Monroe Street Bridge. Conde Nast and several other travel sites ranked the gondola as, “One of the Top Scenic Cable Rides in the World,” in 2013.
The Kendall Yards Night Market hosts artisan food makers, crafters and food trucks. It goes from May to September and is a great family friendly place to go for dinner if you’re here for summer classes. The first night market is Wednesday May 15.
Thursday Market on Perry
South Perry District hosts a Thursday Market that you’ll be able to catch before school is out in May. The first market day is May 2 and it goes from 3-7 p.m. The market has all sorts of produce, pizza and pastries.
Spokane has a lot to offer outdoors and it’s about time you took advantage of it if you have not already done so. Just make sure to be prepared and be safe when you’re heading out!
Alyssa Estes is a staff writer.