Historic Linder’s Lodge on Mount Spokane Begins a New Chapter

By Chris Maccini

When John D. Linder set out to build a new lodge on Mount Spokane, he was inspired by the recent opening of the world’s first double chairlift, the Riblet Tramway that began operating on the mountain in 1947. Over the course of the next five years, Linder and his family oversaw construction of “Linder’s Lodge” alongside the mountain road. When it opened in 1952, the lodge was another architectural and engineering marvel of its day, the widest span wood structure west of the Mississippi.

The lodge included a restaurant, hotel rooms and dormitories that catered to the skiers who flocked to the mountain during the winter months. Linder even opened his own ski hill on 25 acres behind the lodge. He installed a rope tow to serve the terrain and, eventually, lights that allowed for night skiing.

Linder and his wife, Dorothy, operated the lodge until the late 1970s. Following John Linder’s death in 1984, the family sold the property to Gordon and Linda Kirk. The new owners rebranded the building as “Kirk’s Lodge,” refurbished the facilities, and added a snow tubing hill across the mountain road from the lodge.

In 1996, the Kirks passed the lodge to new owners. Over the next six years, the building changed hands four times as a series of owners struggled to find the right business model. It was briefly known as “The Resort at Mt. Spokane,” then “Falk’s Lodge,” and finally “Bear Creek Lodge.”

Sam Deal purchased the lodge in 2002, and for more than 20 years, he and his family operated Bear Creek Lodge as a 15-room hotel, event venue, restaurant and snow tubing hill. Then, last September, a note appeared on the Bear Creek Lodge website announcing Deal’s retirement and that the lodge had been sold to Washington State Parks. The $3.1 million purchase included the lodge and 110 acres of surrounding land, including the snow tubing hill. 

State parks did not offer many details on their plans for the lodge at the time, but Lara Gricar, Inland Northwest region manager for Washington State Parks said in an email, “One of our main motivations for purchasing the properties was to protect and maintain Mount Spokane State Park’s trail network. Many of the trails on the property already weave into the state park’s trail system. Additionally, the property provides much needed parking and a potential opportunity to develop a transit hub for shuttle service up the mountain.”

During the 2024 legislative session, which concluded in March, the state received funding to begin the assessment process for Bear Creek Lodge. According to an email from Rex Schultz, Washington State Parks community engagement manager, “The results of those assessments will provide insights into potential costs to repair, run, maintain and staff the lodge in the future.”

Shultz noted that the state parks department has also begun a master planning process for Mount Spokane State Park, which will include planning for the future use of Bear Creek Lodge and the surrounding property. The department plans to solicit public input during that master planning process.

As the historic lodge nears its 75th anniversary, it continues to serve the mountain community. Its latest owners, Washington State Parks, hope to continue that legacy.

Chris Maccini is a writer and audio producer based in Spokane. This summer, you can find him hiking the trails and sailing the waters of the Northwest.

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