Guide to Close-to-Home Public Lands
Staying at home as much as possible to keep ourselves and our community healthy is a wise idea while coronavirus continues to spread across the Inland Northwest. But getting outside safely and close to home by yourself or with the people you live with—not your extended family or buddies—is important to get exercise and lift your spirits and mellow emotions. As of the last week of March 2020, there are many public lands and facility closures, but there are still plenty of places that are safe (maintaining at least 6 feet of social distance from others) and legal to visit.
Before heading out, be sure to check for updates on public lands, trail, and trailhead closures for your destination by looking online for the right land management agency.
In Spokane County, the public health recreation guidance is to Walk, Run, and Ride Local, at parks and trails within 10 minutes from our homes in order to not overcrowd other neighborhoods and maintain the ease of social distancing. We support this and encourage all our readers to do the same, for the health and safety of us all.
Use this guide below to help you find the right land manager of some of our favorite close-to-home Inland Northwest outdoor recreation destinations that will hopefully still be open for outdoor recreation through the month of April and beyond.
- Spokane City Parks: The open grassy spaces near our homes are great places to relax outside or throw a ball or Frisbee, but playgrounds and play structures are closed and should be avoided since they can spread disease.
- Neighborhood sidewalks, streets, and alleys: You’ll be surprised how the side streets, sidewalks, and alleys in your own neighborhood can make for an enjoyable walk or bike ride, especially with fewer cars out on the roads.
- Spokane Parks & Recreation Lands: The City of Spokane manages multiple open space and trail systems in the city, including those at Camp Sekani Park near Millwood, High Drive Bluff Park off of the South Hill, High Bridge Park below Browne’s Addition, Palisades Park and Indian Canyon west of downtown, and the John A. Finch Arboretum along Sunset Hill west of downtown.
- Spokane County Parks: You may live within walking or biking distance of one of Spokane County’s Conservation Futures program’s conservation areas like Antoine Peak and Dishman Hills in Spokane Valley, Liberty Lake Conservation Area and Saltese Uplands near Liberty Lake, Holmberg Conservation Area near Five Mile Prairie and many more. Check out the county’s website for details. Avoid more crowded trails that could make required social distancing difficult. If you go, please avoid peak times and if you choose to drive, don’t park outside of designated parking areas that may be adjacent to private residences and neighborhoods. It’s best to walk or bike to wherever you’re going, but you can check out some popular trailhead parking lot web cams to see how busy they are at: Spokanecounty.org/4214/Trailhead-Web-Cams
- Spokane River Centennial Trail: While the Centennial Trail is a Washington State Park and technically closed along with other state parks, park managers indicated as of late March that use by people who live near the trail, as long as social distancing is being implemented, would be tolerated. This may change any day if people are not respecting social distance rules. All trail facilities and trailheads were closed the third week of March and may continue to be closed through April and beyond. Follow Friends of the Centennial Trail on Facebook or visit its website for the latest updates.
- Fish Lake Trail: Managed by the City of Spokane, this paved 7+ mile trail southwest of downtown Spokane is great for biking and walking, but note that it doesn’t extend all the way to Fish Lake (road riding is required for the last few miles).
- The Prairie Trail (Coeur d’Alene): This paved path starts at Beebe Boulevard and runs northwest 4 miles across town, ending at Huetter Road. For local residents, it’s a close-to-home trail for walking or riding. The trail is managed by the City of Coeur d’Alene Parks Department.
- North Idaho Centennial Trail: Enjoy 23 miles of paved path from the state line east past downtown Coeur d’Alene. The trail is a cooperative effort of the City of Coeur d’Alene, the City of Post Falls, Kootenai County, Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation, and the North Idaho Centennial Trail Foundation.
- Tubbs Hill: Coeur d’Alene’s beloved Tubbs Hill is a Coeur d’Alene Parks & Recreation Department 165-acre park with trails and lake access.
- Canfield Mountain: northwest of downtown Coeur d’Alene, Canfield includes 24 acres of natural area with non-motorized trails, as well as many additional acres of land and multi-use trails managed by the Idaho Panhandle National Forest.
- Idaho State Parks: Camping closed in Idaho State Parks starting in mid-March, but open for day use. Hiking trails at Farragut, Round Lake, and Heyburn state parks can make for a great spring outing for North Idaho residents as long as the parks remain open.
- Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes: Open – check state park website for latest update.
Other Public Lands & Trail Closures
Over the last week of March, Washington State Parks were closed to the public until further notice to limit crowds at trailheads and on trails and protect the public from further spread of the coronavirus. All Washington Department of Natural Resources (DNR) lands and Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife lands and recreation areas (including public fishing) were also closed. This includes popular natural areas near Spokane such as Riverside State Park, Mount Spokane State Park, and the Columbia Plateau Trail. Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge near Cheney also closed. U.S. National Forest lands, including campgrounds and trails, are also closed until further notice, as well as Bureau of Land Management (BLM) area for Washington-Oregon and Idaho.
Regional COVID-19 Travel Alerts:
Visit land management websites for more info, latest updates, and to find out when they plan to re-open.
Disclaimer: This guide isn’t all-inclusive, and we’ve done our best to cover the Spokane-Coeur d’Alene metro area and public lands throughout the Pacific Northwest to help inform our entire readership, which spans the entire Pacific Northwest and includes readers from states bordering Washington and Idaho, as well as British Columbia, Canada..