Portlanders who love walking will find that a getaway to the Inland Northwest will make for an ideal long walking weekend or vacation. Spokane, Washington, the second largest city in the state, affords visitors the opportunity to walk and sight see. Whether it’s a river walk ending at the stunning Spokane Falls and urban park complex, or a Cork District stroll taking oenophiles to several of the 20 downtown tasting rooms, the walkability of Spokane is one reason visitors flock to the city in warmer seasons.
I spent my first day in Spokane doing a walk organized by a local volkssport walking club. They have mapped, self-guided routes all over the United States and I looked up the club on the Internet and found they had a great mapped route in Spokane. The day I walked, I went over to Deaconess Hospital, as the directions said, picked up a map and started my walk. It took me past the 100 year old Lewis and Clark High School building, through downtown, and onto the river trail, crossing several bridges and overlooking Spokane Falls. Just before the end of the route, the map brought me to the beautifully restored Davenport Hotel. As I admired the decor and looked at the historic photos lining the hallways, I recalled the stories my family told about my Grandparents enjoying an anniversary dinner in the "old" Davenport Hotel just after it had opened in the early 1900's.
Centennial Trail - The Spokane River Centennial Trail is a 37 mile paved trail for pedestrians and cyclists. Dogs are allowed on leash. The trail runs from Sontag Park in Nine Mile Falls, Washington to the Washington / Idaho state line. It continues another 24 miles beyond the Washington state border into Idaho as the North Idaho Centennial trail through Post Falls and into Coeur d'Alene.
The length of the trail makes it ideal for bikers. Walkers can enjoy shorter segments. The trail is ADA accessible. Most of it is separated from motor traffic (all but 7 miles). For more information about the Centennial Trail and to view maps, access points, and photo galleries and more, please visit Friends of the Centennial Trail and/or the North Idaho Centennial Trail Foundation websites.
Cork District and Ale Trail - The downtown segments of the Cork District (read wine tasting) are very walkable. While the Cork District extends to the surrounding areas, the 20+ downtown wineries and tasting rooms will keep you busy tasting, appreciating and discovering some reasonably priced fine wines. An ideal way to enjoy the district is to stay downtown in a centrally located hotel. Pick up a Cork District map and plan an afternoon tasting some amazing wines. Some wineries, such as Barrister Winery, hold special events including dinners in their courtyard.
For beer lovers, Spokane has a great Ale Trail but it is best accessed by car because the breweries are spread throughout the valley. No-Li Brewhouse, 1003 E. Trent Ave. in Spokane is just off the Centennial Trail and has outdoor seating overlooking the Spokane River. Just ride or walk over and rest with one of their Spokane style ales and an offering from their excellent pub menu.
Spokane History Tours - While many of the tour locations require a bit of driving, I add this resource because you might want to download one of their maps and read the descriptions before you go out walking in Spokane. The Spokanehistory.org website is an excellent resource for learning more about the architecture and history of Spokane.
More Resources for the Walker
Walking Routes - Maps provided by the Spokane Regional Health District
Lilac City Volkssport Association - Mapped walks and hosted events all open to the public.
Nine Easy Hikes Near Spokane