Thanks to planning and partnerships from WTA and local land managers, this fantastic new trail is located on a parcel of public land very close to Spokane. Get a full-day hike just 30 minutes from downtown!
This route description covers the most direct hike starting at the Belmont Road TH for Mica Peak Conservation Area, but with over 6000 acres of public land and numerous intersecting trail options to choose from, this hike could be extended.
To begin this hike from the Belmont Road TH on the California Creek Trail, take the first right after the TH kiosk. The first portion of the route is a mixture of doubletrack and single track that crosses DNR property, climbing steadily until it intersects Mica Peak Conservation Area. Note that hunting is legal on the DNR section of the route for all WDFW-managed seasons, and that limited deer and turkey hunting is offered on the Mica Peak Conservation Area during those corresponding hunting seasons; when visiting in the fall, hikers are encouraged to wear blaze orange. The route through the DNR property starts on double track, and hikers will need to take a slight left at the 0.6 mile mark, staying on the left side of California Creek. At 0.8 miles the single-track begins with a marked trail to the left off the main double track route. Note that the first two sections of single-track exist as options to take hikers off the steepest sections of double track crossing the DNR property. They offer a gentler grade as well as some of the best spring flowers and fall colors along the route, but they continue to cross and utilize short segments of the DNR access road approaching the Mica Peak Conservation Area. All major trail crossings are signed California Creek Trail with mileage noted. At the top of the DNR property, hikers will get their first sweeping views across the Spokane Valley, although the views will continue to improve as hikers ascend higher along this route.
At the 1.98 mile mark hikers will reach the boundary between DNR and the Conservation Area. Note the bottom of Lower Silicate Slide to the right; this is the exit of the one-way, mountain bike-only flow trail. Those on mountain bikes can consider this trail for the return route, but hikers and horseback riders are not permitted. Instead, continue straight ahead for the short segment of trail where California Creek Trail meets Moon Shine, the main double track trail through the Conservation Area. Both trails share the next 0.27 miles. Watch for where California Creek Trail turns left at the 2.25 mile mark, at a marked intersection just after a trail restoration sign along Moon Shine Trail.
The next 0.82 miles of California Creek Trail are along a "spine trail," sections of which were formerly an old logging road from when this area was still private timber land. Just after the 3 mile mark, watch for the signed intersection for the main climb along the California Creek Trail, where the next 1.38 miles are all hand-built single-track courtesy WTA volunteers! The views get better and better all along the route as the trail ascends a series of switchbacks. From various points along the trail it's possible to see everything from the rolling farmland of the Palouse to the southwest, to Iller Creek Conservation Area to the west, to downtown Spokane and Spokane Valley far below, to Mount Spokane to the north, to Liberty Lake and Idaho's Mica Peak to the east.
At approximately the 4.5 mile mark California Creek Trail once again meets up with Moon Shine Trail at the upper landing. To continue the traverse, cross Moon Shine and take the slight left to continue on California Creek Trail. At the top of a short climb California Creek joins "Henry Road," and from here the trail resumes as wider double track all the way to Liberty Lake Regional Park. The forest shows evidence of long-ago logging, but the second growth trees have reached substantial size. Occasionally hikers will get peek-a-boo glimpses to the north, but this is a better section for enjoying shady tree stands of predominantly Doug fir and hemlock with an understory of huckleberry.
At nearly the 6 mile mark, the trail reaches the end of the Mica Peak Conservation Area and joins up with the Liberty Lake Regional Park property. A trail to the right leads to Mica Peak summit, off the Conservation Area property. Note that the true summit of Mica Peak is owned by the FAA, home to an active radar site since 1979. Instead, turn left and begin the descent to Liberty Lake to complete the traverse. From the junction, it's mostly downhill to Liberty Lake Regional Park.
There's an excellent viewpoint just slightly north of the trail at the 4700' elevation mark, and the trailside views now occasionally open up to the southeast as well. After another 3.25 miles of hiking, arrive at a four way intersection. Keep going straight and downhill here. 1.5 miles past this junction, you'll arrive at the Edith Hansen trail in Liberty Lake just about 2 miles from the end of your trail! At 10.6 miles the trail intersects the main Liberty Lake Trail, and at 11.5 miles hikers will reach the Liberty Lake Regional Park campground, the endpoint for the traverse.
Hikers will need to either arrange a shuttle from Liberty Lake Regional Park, or else retrace their steps for a 23 mile round-trip hike. A little advance planning can also turn this route into a backpacking trip: camping can be reserved at Liberty Lake Regional Park in the main campground (May 5th-September 30th annually), or can be reserved for the designated backpacking campsite near Hughes Cabin, which is located slightly off the main traverse location at a point 2.3 miles farther south on the Edith Hansen Trail. Aside from the designated reservation campsite, no other camping is allowed along this trail.
This trail is accessible year-round, and is an excellent snowshoe and backcountry/Nordic ski location in the winter when the snow is deep enough.