For many people in the Inland Northwest, finishing Bloomsday is a rite of passage. As a former road runner with several Bloomsday finishes, I understand the allure of the race and the festival atmosphere on that first Sunday in May. As a person who much prefers trails and never much liked crowds, I often aim to find trail versions of Spokane’s signature running and walking event: loops that mimic the 12k distance and highlight Spokane’s “Near Nature, Near Perfect” motto. The Deep Creek Loop is one of these routes.
Until this year, I’ve never noticed flowing water in Deep Creek. Generally, it’s a dry creek bed, a place with interesting rocks and sandy soil. On my most recent visit, Deep Creek was transformed into a torrent by all of the snowmelt and spring rain. It will no doubt return to dry creek bed later this spring, but if you visit and find it’s still flowing, plan to hike a short segment of this route on the road to take advantage of the bridges over the creek.
From the trailhead on State Park Drive, enter the trail system through the gate on the closed road. This route takes hikers directly to the Deep Creek Overlook and provides an impressive look into the canyon. Check to see if Deep Creek is flowing or if it has returned to its subterranean route, as this will affect route options later in the loop.
Beyond the overlook, the trail gradually descends until intersecting with the Centennial Trail at approximately the 1-mile mark. Turn left and follow Centennial Trail, parallel with the Spokane River, to the Deep Creek bridge. Cross the bridge and immediately turn left on trail 411. Trail 411 intersects trail 25 at the 1.7-mile mark. Turn left and continue on trail 25 at each of several marked intersections. At the 2.7-mile mark, trail 25 parallels Carlson Road for approximately .5 mile, then gradually begins the loop back. Again, there will be several intersecting trails, some of which provide options for shortening the loop. For the full 12k, remain on trail 25.
The route climbs through basalt canyons with beautiful rock walls, passes through pine and Douglas fir stands, and includes overlooks of the Spokane River and the city in the distance. At the 5.8-mile mark, trail 25 crosses West Pine Bluff Road. If you noted water in the creek while back at the Deep Creek Overlook, this is the point to abandon the trail in favor of taking the road back to the trailhead (West Pine Bluff to a left on Seven Mile Road, to a left on State Park Drive to the parking lot). If Deep Creek is dry, cross the road to continue on trail 25 to cross Coulee Creek. When trail 25 crosses Seven Mile Road toward Bowl & Pitcher, stay left and parallel to Coulee Creek to make your way back to the parking lot. //
Round Trip Distance
Up to 7.4 miles for the loop, with shorter options available.
From Highway 291, turn west on Seven Mile Road. Take the second right on North State Park Drive to the trailhead. Discover Pass required. //
Holly Weiler is the race director for the Foothills Scenic Five fun run every June that supports a scholarship fund and community events.