Finch Arboretum is fun all year for children. It is delightful in the Spring with flowers and blossoms on trees. Fun in the summer to play in the stream floating stick boats or leaves downstream and climbing rocks. In the Fall children can make big piles of leaves and jump in them – free from dog poop as dogs are not allowed here. There are some woodsy trails for future explorers to follow and bunnies and marmots make frequent appearances. It is a fun place for a Fairy Birthday party too! Bring a picnic lunch and a blanket. If it snows bring them to play in the snow and build a snowman. This is a good place to try out those new snowshoes. Link to Google Map.
Dishman Hills Natural Area
Camp Caro has a picnic area and a playground. It is located at the end of Sargent off Appleway in Spokane Valley. Link to Google Map
Close to the city with a network of short trails, this is a great place to introduce children to an outdoor environment and hiking. There are ponds and in the Spring the frogs are often in chorus.
This is a natural area. Observation and photos are allowed but please do not catch wildlife, pick flowers or collect rocks here. Click here for a map with a suggested walk for families with children from Camp Caro. Print it out and let the children follow the map.. The hike is about 2 miles. An easier walk would be the Short Pond Loop. Dogs welcome on leash.
Little Spokane Natural Area
The Little Spokane Natural Area follows the meandering Little Spokane River and also has ancient indian rock pictographs. No dogs or bicycles allowed here, it is a good place to observe wildlife. This short walk is fairly level and the path is delightful for children.
Spokane Parks and Recreation has canoe and kayak trips down the Little Spokane River. This is a wonderful experience for the whole family and P & R provides the equipment, shuttle and instruction. Check out their activity guide for Spring and Summer trips.
If there is snow this could be a fun snowshoe walk but check with the ranger at 509-465-5064 to see where to park in Winter.
Liberty Lake County Park is a fun spot for families and also offers camping. There is a swimming beach and a playground.
Washington Trails Association will be hard at work this Spring on the trail that has been flooded because beavers have been busy building dams on the creek.
The best hike for children follows bubbly Liberty Creek for about 2 miles to a large Cedar Grove. A beautiful place for a picnic lunch.
The trail starts at the end of the campground and is easy to follow without a map. The family pup can come too but needs to be on leash please. County Parks Directions and Map to the park.
Mt. Spokane State Park
This is the place for family Huckleberry picking in summer but children need to be prepared for some down and up hill to get to some of the good patches.
The cross county ski area also has huckleberries but they get picked pretty fast because it is so accessible.
A nice short family hike can make a loop through the cross country area. Bring along the family dog but please keep it on leash.
Another nice hike on a hot summer day is Burping Brook Trail in the shade of the forest. This is an uphill hike but take it slow and play in the brook.
In Winter take the young folk snowshoeing and bring along a sled in case they get tired.Let them take turns being the “sled dog” and pulling each other. Then stop for a snack and make a snow person. Check with the ranger to make sure there is enough snow. A day pass is available online or you can buy a Winter pass if you plan on a few trips.
Park at the big turn and snowshoe on the Kit Carson Road from there. There are plans for a snowshoe warming hut sometime in the future.
Biking and Hiking Areas
This is also a Conservation Futures property. To the west of Spokane it offers great views. Rimrock Drive has been closed to traffic and is a perfect, almost flat spot to take children and dogs for a walk on the wide dirt road. There are some nice trails through the woods. The best place to start from is W. Greenwood RD. and S. Basalt Rd.- there is a parking area to the west out Rimrock by the closed gate. For a map and more information about this area visit PalisadesNW. Link to Google Map
This is also a good mountain bike ride for beginners. The dirt road has ruts but children I have been with think they are fun! This is mostly flat and wide with only one short uphill. It is a good place to learn too.
Fish Lake Trail
Fish Lake Trail attracts runners, cyclists, roller bladers and dog walkers but it is also a nice, flat paved walk for families. There are several benches to stop for a snack and a smooth surface for bikes, wagons and strollers. Mielage is marked so maybe some young people will be inspired to “just go to the next mile marker”. The trail passes a field where sheep and llamas may be watching you. Google Map to Parking Lot for the Fish Lake Trail.
The Spokane Centennial Trail
The Spokane Centennial Trail is a 37 mile paved path running along the Spokane River from the Idaho State line to Nine Mile Falls. A good section of the trail is from Mirabeau Park toward Idaho. Here you can ride as far as the children want, grab a snack and turn back. The trail follows the river and water explorers will enjoy spots where they can investigate the river edge. Be watchful – especially in the Spring the water can be deep and fast. Only enough hills for a little excitement this is a good spot to take the family for a bike ride or a roller skate.
Google shows The Inland Empire Zoo where Mirabeau Park should be – map
Alan Dyer, “A Sense of Adventure” “Children the world over have a right to a childhood filled with beauty, joy, adventure, and companionship. They will grow toward ecological literacy if the soil they are nurtured in is rich with experience, love, and good examples.”