Shortly after the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) enhanced several portions of Riverside State Park, the 7 Mile Airfield was used as a practice field during WWII for American pilots who would later be landing and taking off on atolls in the Pacific. The retired airfield is about a kilometer wide and two kilometers long, and it’s gradually flourished into one of the best regional spots for mountain bike races and trail running events.
Present-day recreational use for the airfield started in 1998 with plans for a 24-hour mountain bike race with the help of park manager Jack Hartt and other promoters. The initial 24-hour mountain bike race was held in 1999, and all the necessities, including water, electricity, toilets, and shelters, needed to be brought in for the event. The 24-hour bike race continued successfully for another 20 years, right up until the Covid-19 pandemic. Obviously, other race directors saw how convenient and successful the location was, but it would take many seasons and lots of fundraising to bring electricity and water to the area.
Thanks to Round and Round Productions, Avista, and Riverside State Park, a new electric panel in 2018 allowed event organizers to ditch noisy generators. New inroads were added to improve traffic flow and eliminate conflicts with park neighbors. But the biggest necessity for the airfield was always water. In recent years, the regional community has employed the airfield for orienteering gatherings, equestrian events, campouts, military exercises, and dog sledding.
As far back as 2018, the push to get a well drilled at the airfield began with financial donations and monetary commitments from the Riverside State Park Foundation (RSPF). The RSPF representatives checked on ownership of the area and worked with the Department of Ecology to secure water rights for the land parcel containing the airfield. Meanwhile, the State Park took over the required archeological study to assess any culturally sensitive areas before everything was approved. In 2020, the State Park initiated budget requests to fund the well project, and they added plans for a vault toilet and a picnic shelter. Soon after, the Spokane Rotary Club 21 and Evergreen East donated to the project. Then, like so many other projects and events, the pandemic slowed things down.
Ultimately, State Parks finalized the well in 2022 with a three-purpose water fountain perfect for drinking, or filling containers, along with a pet watering station at the base. Beyond providing the necessary hydration for events, the fountain eliminates a lot of single-use plastic waste. The vault toilet is also complete and the shelter area should be finalized in late spring. The 7 Mile Airfield is one of many projects championed by the Riverside State Park Foundation. More info at Riversidestateparkfoundation.org