Popular Spokane-area hiking trails expanded, improved

Hikers and mountain bikers are out for a pleasant surprise when they make their next visit to some of the Spokane, Washington area’s most popular trail systems.

Agencies and growing stable of trained volunteers have been quietly chipping away in recent years at improving old trails and building new ones on county, state and federal areas.

The results are impressive at destinations such as Riverside State Park, Spokane County conservation areas and Fishtrap Lake, all of which are currently green and bright with blooming wildflowers. Many of the new trails are ripe for exploring right now.

The 15 conservation areas acquired and protected so far by the Spokane County Conservation Futures Program since 1994 are providing hikers, mountain bikers and, in most cases, equestrians with extraordinary “backyard” trail opportunities.

The trails are a work in progress. The most extensive trail work in recent years has been at Iller Creek Unit of the Dishman Hills Conservancy in Spokane Valley, said Paul Knowles, county parks planner who’s overseen huge recent improvements in trails and trailheads.

But even at Iller Creek, despite efforts to design the trails for sustainability, the effects of a record year of precipitation has taken a toll this spring with some major erosion issues on trails near the creek.

“Whatever we do with trails is temporary,” said Holly Weiler, Washington Trails Association East Side project coordinator. “Mother Nature allows some jobs to last longer than others.”

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