If you’re looking for a mellow summer hike or ride, head southwest of Spokane to the James T. Slavin Conservation Area. This 628-acre natural area is flowy yet flat, with both wooded and open meadow trail.
In July and August, you’ll see native wildflowers flush the area with hues of white, blue, purple, and yellow. Look for yarrow, bachelor’s buttons, wavy-leaf thistles, goldenrod, and more this time of year.
This is a great place to stroll with kids or babies strapped to your back, as the elevation gain is mild and there are several out-and-back or short loop options. Dogs should remain on leash, since this area is home to waterfowl and songbirds that frequent the small lake at the center of this trail’s loop. Equestrian riders are also common.
What I enjoy most about this hike is its “best of both worlds” feeling. Half of the time I’m wandering through a singletrack wooded trail, looking close at the plants and flowers with a peek of the lake every now and then; the other half I’m strolling an open meadow, where the clouds take precedence and you can soak in the seasonal color palette at large. It’s a place that inspires deep breathing.
Take the full 3-mile loop around the lake to experience both trail types. Seasonal trail closure occurs in the northwest corner due to flooding. In upcoming months, grasses will turn taupe and gold for a beautiful morning or sunset hike.
Visit Spokanecounty.org for a trail map and list of the 121 species of birds that find habitat here.
To learn about some of the other best hiking trails and destinations throughout the Inland Northwest, visit the OTO archives.