What I love about running in the Spokane area is the ease of access to an abundance of amazing trails and routes in or around the city. While some trails are not open during the winter months, many are. The following list offers practical and scenic routes with varying distances for every training plan. Although these routes are accessible year round, running spikes may still be advised depending on the amount of snowfall and whether or not the path has been groomed. Also, be sure to avoid trails on extra-wet days to help prevent erosion.
James T. Slavin Conservation Area Loop (3.5 miles)
This wetland loop 10 miles south of Spokane circles Slavin Pond, which is a hot spot for many different species of birds, including geese, ducks, and owls. Bird watching aside, this route will take you through a forest of ponderosa pines, aspens, and up a butte with many peekaboo views of the pond. While open year-round, note that seasonal flooding may occur in these wetlands.
South Hill Bluff (3-5 miles)
One of my favorite winter routes is along the South Hill bluff, running between High Drive and Hangman Creek. The best time to go is after a fresh snowfall – once you hit the trail, you are in your own personal winter wonderland. The path is not paved so bring your spikes or prepare to have some fun in the snow!
Start at the trailhead on 29th and High Drive and take the concrete sidewalk down to the trail. The trail will split a few times, heading back up to High Drive or down towards Hangman Creek; stay on the upper trail until you eventually angle up towards the intersection near Manito Boulevard. At this point, you can either turn around and go back the way you came for 3 miles or run a nice 5-mile loop down Manito Boulevard, through the park, and back up to 29th. The loop option not only adds distance, but also switches up the terrain, allowing you to run on both road and trail.
Rimrock Conservation Area/Palisades Park (3-7 miles)
Just west of Spokane, Palisades Park consists of a trail system that enables you to run various distances with varying surroundings. The Rimrock Conservation loop is an easy 3 miles in a forest setting with minimal elevation gain and a view of Mount Spokane in the background. By exploring the rest of the trails, you will come across Indian Canyon Falls where, during the winter months, you may find local ice climbers scaling the frozen waterfall.
Downriver Drive/Aubrey L. White Parkway (3-10+ miles)
Aubrey L. White Parkway is a great route to meet whatever training needs you have during the winter months. Running parallel to the Spokane river, you will enjoy beautiful views while still running on a maintained road. This route is an out-and-back, so it is easy to run a quick 5k or even a long run.
Start at Pettet Drive and take Downriver Drive along the golf course until the road forks. Keep left to continue onto Aubrey L. White Parkway. Brace yourself for some undesirable scents after about 2.5 miles as you run past the Spokane Waste Water Management facility. This is a good place to pick up the pace and work on some speed! Eventually, you will meet Riverside State Park and catch views of the Bowl and Pitcher. Turn around at 5 miles to make it a 10 mile out-and-back or continue to follow the river until you hit 7-Mile Road—another good place to park if you would like to check out different sections of the Parkway with easy access to the trail system within Riverside State Park.
Camp Sekani/Upriver Drive (3-10+ miles)
This out-and-back follows Upriver Drive along the Spokane River via the Centennial Trail. Parking at Camp Sekani, head west and you will have views of the climbing rocks at Minnehaha on one side, and the river on the other. This stretch has some wooded paths that, if unkempt, can easily be switched out for running along the Centennial Trail/Upriver Drive the entire way. Run all the way to Mission Park for a long run or cut back earlier to make it shorter.