Explore Spokane: 3 Family-Friendly Walking Routes to Try

Outdoor Adventures Monday, August 12, 2013 Written by

With its placement on the eastern edge of the Columbia Basin, and the river that bisects the city, Spokane certainly lives up to its “Near Nature. Near Perfect.” tag line. The city manages to bring together natural beauty and an urban scene, creating many family-friendly walks.

Lace up those shoes! Here are three walks in Spokane that are sure to delight.

Explore The Centennial Trail

Begin in Plantes Ferry Park and walk toward the river and along the paved trail that runs parallel to Upriver Drive. Take a left and cross the bridge. When you get to the other side of the river, make another left and follow the path back along the water.

Eventually, the path curves to the right and becomes the Centennial Trail. As you wander next to the lovely Spokane River, you’ll arrive at Mirabeau Park. Here you’ll find an event and senior center, picnic shelters and, of course, the natural beauty of an open meadow, waterfall and pond. Turn around, and retrace your steps back to your car. Total distance there and back is 5 miles.

In total, the Centennial Trail stretches 37 miles from Nine Mile Falls to the Idaho state line. If you feel ambitious, keep on trekking and tell us how it goes!

Walk the Manito Park Cannon Hill Park Loop

For a shorter walk in the South Hill neighborhood, enjoy this 2.4-mile route that follows paved paths and sidewalks. To start, park in the famed garden showplace Manito Park and walk toward the pond as you head uphill along 19th Avenue. When you arrive at Cannon Hill Park, you’ll find another playground and a lake. Loop around the park and continue back along the other side of the park on Shoshone Place. Just after Bernard, you’ll pass the Nishinomiya Japanese Gardens, and then Rose Hill Garden, which you’ll loop around. Continue straight along the right side of the Gaiser Conservatory greenhouse and the Duncan Garden. Circle back, still following the trail, until you take a right along the path past the Joel E. Ferris Perennial Gardens (on your right). At the intersection of Tekoa and Manito Place, take a left to wind your way back to the parking lot at Manito Park.

Food tip: If you need to stop and refuel along the way, the Manito Park Bench Cafe (near the rose garden) now offers healthy menu items, thanks to a recent initiative by The Spokane Park Board. Find deli sandwiches on nine-grain bread, veggie snacks and smoothies made with 100% fruit (rather than those sugar-based syrups).

Enjoy the Riverfront Park Gonzaga University Loop

Created to host the 1974 World’s Fair, the lush 100-acre Riverfront Park today hosts some of the city’s largest events. Residents and visitors flock here to stroll, picnic, hear live music and watch the city begin to light up at dusk. Complete the 2.2-mile loop along the paved trail that hugs the Spokane River from Riverfront Park to Gonzaga University and back.

If you park in or near River Park Square, the first attractions you’ll come upon are a famous sculpture by Govedare and gondola rides over the Spokane Falls. Pick up the trail and continue past the 1909 National Historic Looff Carousel and other sites that include a fountain by Balazs and a performing arts center. Cross the river, temporarily joining the Centennial Trail, and then take a left on the other side of the banks toward the university. Loop around the river, eventually taking a left back toward your starting point. As you near the end of your walk, you will see the historic clock tower and pavilion, where kids will love the IMAX Theater, ice skating in winter months and amusement rides in summertime.

Food tip: If you’ve worked up an appetite, reward yourself at the new Fountain Cafe located by the main south gateway into Riverfront Park. Healthy menu options here range from the hummus plate and Greek garden wrap to kids’ items like turkey dogs or plain turkey half-sandwiches with applesauce on the side.

If you’d like to see more walking routes in the Spokane area, check out these walking maps from Spokane Regional Health District.

Cheers to healthy strolling and eating!