Riverside State Park, Bowl and Pitcher Loop

I have a favorite loop in Riverside State Park that can be especially nice for mid-winter visits when I’d prefer to run or hike rather than ski or snowshoe. With a base distance of 4.7 miles and so many trail connections that it can easily be expanded or condensed, it’s my go-to spot for our short winter days. I also love that it begins and ends within Bowl and Pitcher, where the heated bathrooms are a great place to change out of sweaty clothes before I have a chance to get chilled post-workout.

Try it by crossing the footbridge over the Spokane River and turning right on Trail 25. A short distance beyond the picnic shelter, watch for the Trail 210 intersection on the left, which climbs a moderately steep hill and crosses the Centennial Trail.

This spot always triggers flashbacks to tough college workouts, as the combination of the Centennial Trail (to the pumphouse halfway up the hill) and 210 (to just past the crest of the hill) at this location was affectionately referred to as “Half Pipe Hills.” If you’re a runner, give four to six of them a try before continuing the loop; it’s a sure way to prepare for any spring races (or make you think you might die trying). Remember that once up each hill makes one full half pipe, so just a few of these makes a quality workout. If it’s icy out, some traction devices are a good idea, especially in this spot.

If you’re sane, just keep trucking past the hill on Trail 210 and join Trail 25 through the burn zone to the intersection with Trail 200, then bear right and descend the rocky hill. Cross the Centennial Trail and continue to the river, rejoining another segment of Trail 25. Keep your eyes open for the resident mule deer near this spot, as they almost always make a showing. At the river, turn right and stay on Trail 25 upstream until returning to Bowl and Pitcher. If you skip the hill repeats, this loop only requires 379 feet of elevation gain. Roundtrip distance: 4.7 miles.

Getting there: From Spokane, drive to the North Aubrey White Parkway (accessible from either SR 291 to the north or the intersection of Fort George Wright Drive and Pettet Drive to the south). Watch for the signed entrance to Riverside State Park’s Bowl and Pitcher. Day use parking is located near the footbridge above the Spokane River. Discover Pass required. //

Holly Weiler is the race director for the Foothills Scenic Five fun run every June that supports a scholarship fund and community events.

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