Once again there is a trail that extends a mile up the east side of Liberty Creek, creating an easier alternative to the full Liberty Lake Loop and a new way to hike to the cedar grove. Originally built in the 1970s, the Split Creek Trail had fallen victim to erosion damage and lack of maintenance, according to Washington Trails Association. “All in all, it’s a good family trail,” says Don Secor, Spokane County Parks Operations Manager. The restored trail has a colorful history, with remnants of “Skull Camp,” old fire circles, a rusted automobile presiding mysteriously beside the trail and lingering rumors of a place called “Moonshine Meadows.” Over the last year and a half, a cooperative effort of County Parks and local volunteer groups and individuals, organized by the Washington Trails Association, conducted some 33 work days to restore the new trail leg. “It was a real community effort,” says Secor, who credits the WTA for doing an excellent job.
Hikers will enjoy an easy grade and a seamless hike, unaware how much skill and labor it took to restore the trail. Two reaches were hewn from nearly 90 degree slopes and required moving huge amounts of rock. Todd Dunfield, WTA Assistant Volunteer Crew Leader, claims “Every rock you see has a story to tell.” Look for the refrigerator-sized boulder that got away from the trail crew and plummeted down the slope. Secor has dreamed for decades of rejuvenating this old trail to lighten the load on the popular main trail but also so the public can better enjoy the park. Hiking the Split Creek Trail loop, climbing through the mixed forest beside Liberty Creek to the cedar grove, is just short of five miles round-trip from the winter parking lot. For a full trail route description, visit Wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/split-creek-trail.