From the parking lot, follow the trail up a mild incline to a picnic area at .3 miles, and then turn right up the short, steep scree-covered path to Steamboat Rock. Once on top, a loop trail awaits, giving hikers a spectacular view in all directions. Hike it counter-clockwise to peer into Devil’s Punchbowl from the top, then take in the views of the boat-in campsites far below – just don’t venture too close to the edge of the cliffs! On spring days, it’s not uncommon to see nesting swallows swooping below the trail’s edge; bring binoculars to watch for raptors soaring through the nearby Banks Lake Wildlife Area. Closer at hand are early spring wildflowers. Early buttercups will eventually give way to balsamroot, lupine, and bitterroot blooms, but keep an eye out for rattlesnakes hiding among the flowers. Steamboat is also home to a large mule deer herd. Travel quietly and watch for movement on the undulating terrain to catch a glimpse of the permanent residents. Dogs must be leashed, and the hike is not recommended for small children. The fee campground is open year-round; a Discover Pass is required.
Getting There: From Spokane, take Highway 2 west past Hartline to the intersection with State Route 155, then travel north 15.6 miles and watch for signs for Steamboat Rock State Park on the left (west). Continue 3 miles to the day-use area; the trail is across the road from the parking lot.