Millwood is a sleepy pocket of houses wedged between Trent Avenue and the Spokane River and spread about eight blocks in each direction east and west from Argonne Road. It’s here I’ve decided to meet my friend Anna on a cool Saturday morning for the third and last in the series of neighborhood runs. She and her husband lived on the southwest edge of Millwood for several years and moved only a mile across the river after their first daughter was born four years ago, so these are her stomping grounds.
Although an estimated 32,000 cars pass along Argonne on a given weekday, it’s surprising how few people know where Millwood is. Even fewer realize this little city of 1,800 people is independent of either Spokane or Spokane Valley, yet it remains a coveted place to live, as a small-town retreat in the wash of suburbia.
We start our run at the front entrance of the Rocket Bakery on Argonne. Within the space of two blocks along this main drag, you can pick up a sandwich or ice cream cone, sip a latte or buy a bottle of wine; get your bike fixed, pick up a new putter, or take a yoga class. Plus there’s a small bar, a 7-11 and a mechanic’s shop a block further. Across the street is the iconic Inland Empire Paper Company mill, which gave the town the “Mill” part of its name. Many of the homes were built as residences for the mill’s employees beginning at the turn of the century.
We start our run heading south along the strip of shops to the railroad tracks at Empire. Although the tracks are not the border to the city, in many ways, they define it. The Millwood Historical Society website says that up to 75 trains pass through Millwood in a single day.
Across the intersection is the small but pretty Millwood Park, but we have elected to avoid crossing the busy thoroughfare this morning. We turn east on Euclid, then South again, and circle around West Valley high school, eventually making our way to the grassy belt along the Felts Field airport. While technically outside the Millwood boundaries, it is still part of the town’s fabric, occasionally launching exotic biplanes and World War II bombers during the summer months.
On our way back we parallel the river, coveting the owners who get to wake up to the shimmer of water beyond their window every morning. Eventually we jog past Millwood Community Presbyterian, the church Anna and I both attend. Down the block, we pass under the canopy of leaves on Dalton Avenue. This will soon be home once again to the Millwood Farmers Market, which runs through mid-September on Wednesdays from 3 to 7 p.m.
We end our run back at the Rocket Bakery and meet up with Anna’s husband Brandon and their daughters, sipping our adult drinks while the two-year-old gulps juice and the five-year-old blows bubbles in her Italian soda. Aside from a few noisy trains, Millwood is a peaceful slice of heaven for urban running. //
Millwood Daze 5K
Millwood Daze runs the last weekend in August and includes the Millwood Daze 5k, which covers much of the same neighborhood streets described in this article. See the Millwood Daze Facebook page for the route description and more information. //
Brad Thiessen is an avid runner with a special heart for trails and a deep respect for the people who manage them. This is the third installment in his three part series about urban runs in Spokane.