Knothead Trail (Little Spokane River Natural Area)

Many volunteer hours have gone into the transformation of this scenic trail, still a work in progress, but drastically improved through the efforts of an REI service day in June 2014 and multiple Washington Trails Association work parties. Hike it now to catch the spring wildflowers and see the handiwork of hundreds of volunteers and bring binoculars to watch either moose or kayakers on the Little Spokane River far below.

To get the most mileage from a visit, start at the Indian Painted Rocks Trailhead. Follow the river downstream to intersect the Knothead Trail, then power up the hill (crossing the road at a marked intersection) to gain elevation and get to the best views. Approximately a quarter mile after crossing the road, be sure to bear right on the singletrack trail, part of the 2014 reroute, to stay on the trail and keep off private property.

The newest addition is approximately .5 mile from the start of the reroute, currently an out-and-back spur trail to two scenic vistas above the Little Spokane River. If you come back to hike it again in 2016, you will see how the spur will extend to a small loop, returning to the Knothead farther up-trail. Following one’s return from the spur trail, continue uphill to complete the long loop (for a total of eight miles), which eventually contours to the crest of the hill and drops down the next valley to return to the trailhead. For a shorter hike, try this as an out-and-back from the small trailhead just off Highway 291, which cuts the overall mileage to the upper overlook and back to a manageable (yet hilly) three-or-so-mile hike. The Little Spokane River Natural Area is closed to mountain bikes and dogs, so best to enjoy this one as a hike or trail run.

Getting there: From Spokane, use either the Knothead Trailhead from the intersection of Highway 291 and N. River Park Lane, or the Indian Painted Rocks Trailhead from Rutter Parkway. On crowded weekends, consider using the boat takeout parking lot off Highway 291, which will add a short road hike. Discover Pass required.

Give Back to Our Trails!

Trail Work Party of the Month: National Trails Day at Liberty Lake Regional Park, June 6, providing much-needed maintenance to a trail built in the 1970s but nearly abandoned due to lack of repairs. Signup online at

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