Trails for everyone, forever

Home Go Hiking Hiking Guide Mount Spokane State Park - Three Peaks Loop
link

Mount Spokane State Park - Three Peaks Loop

Eastern Washington

Location

Eastern Washington -- Spokane Area/Coeur d'Alene
View map below

Length

12.6 miles, roundtrip

Elevation

Gain: 2858 ft.
Highest Point: 5883 ft.

Rating

4.00 out of 5

 
 

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

Discover Pass
 
 

This hike begins at the hairpin turn on the Mount Spokane road. From the trailhead parking, which offers about twenty spaces, hike to the bend in the road and cross it; you will see a white gate across what looks like an access road. This is your starting point.

Go around the gate, and begin hiking along the access road. This is the Mount Kit Carson Loop road, which was used back in the day for Sunday drives as a scenic route around Kit Carson. Camps used to be set up all along the road, and residents of Spokane could drive to the mountain and take a long slow circuit tour via automobile around the peak.

Your tour of Mount Kit Carson is a little more strenuous. After a slightly descending traverse and two creek crossings, take the trail branching off to your right, signed for trail 104. Most of the trails on this hike are multi-use, so be aware and observe proper trail etiquette.

Trail 104 switchbacks up and away from the Mount Kit Carson Loop road, gaining about 500 feet in a third of a mile before meeting a junction with Trail 100. For the duration of this hike, you’ll note many side trails. All major turns in your route will be at signed junctions.

Turn left onto Trail 100, which now traverses the flanks of Mount Kit Carson. You’re hiking through a quiet forest. Descend to Smith Gap, a place where Trail 100 and the Mount Kit Carson Loop Road intersect. Here you’re a mile from the trailhead, and you have the opportunity to relieve yourself in a port-a-potty, or simply have a rest at the picnic table. Be sure to visit the snowshoe hut, which is just a little ways up the hill from where you came to the intersection.

WTA crew leader Randy Greyerbiehl built the white pine bench and picnic table that furnish this delightful little alpine hut from a tree that fell nearby, and locals have contributed creatively designed coat racks made from old parts of skis. Sign the guestbook and have a rest if you like, then head back to the intersection to continue on.

Hike down the Kit Carson Loop road for a few hundred feet, looking for a junction to your right with Trail 140. Turn onto Trail 140 and begin a long switchbacking route up the hillside. You will pass from low, close-in forests of Douglas-fir to more open forests of Ponderosa pine. You’ll arrive at Saddle Junction, a central location that you’ll visit twice more during this hike. This time, use the port-a-potty if you need to, then start hiking on Trail 160, which takes off uphill and to your left.

At a junction with Trail 130, stay on Trail 160, continuing uphill. At a second junction on Trail 160, turn left and proceed uphill for a quarter mile to your first peak – Mount Kit Carson. A granite outcropping here offers views to Spokane and the rolling hills of the Palouse, as well as the snow-capped Washington Selkirks over your right shoulder.

When you’ve taken enough photos, head back down the spur trail, arriving at the junction with 160. Take the left trail. This is Trail 130, and it descends steeply for three-quarters of a mile through quiet forest. This section of the hike is the furthest from easy public access, so it’s unlikely that you’ll see many people here. If you’re hiking this loop early in the day or late in the evening, you might even see a bear, since huckleberries line the trail here.

Arrive at a small saddle and junction with Trail 130. Go left, and begin climbing out through an open meadow that bursts with wildflowers and grasses in late spring. After one-third of a mile, arrive at another granite outcropping—you’re on top of Day Mountain. This is a great spot for more panoramic views and pictures. You can see the wooded top of Mount Kit Carson behind you, and views north to the Selkirks have improved. This is not the true summit of Day Mountain—that’s behind you in the trees you just came through—but it’s the best spot to take a rest and have a snack before pressing on.

With two peaks bagged and the biggest yet to come, backtrack a few feet from the granite outcropping and look for a trail descending through the meadow to your left. Take this path, which is Trail 130, and begin a mile-long descent through calm forest with peek-a-boo views into Idaho. WTA worked on this section of trail, installing a rock wall to reinforce switchbacks near the trail’s junction with the Kit Carson Loop Road.

Pop out on the Mount Kit Carson Loop road and hike along it for about a mile back to Saddle Junction. This time, make a 90-degree left turn onto Trail 140. 140 traverses the flank of Mount Spokane for a bit before taking a steeper grade and switchbacking through increasingly open forest. About a mile in, the trail comes into view with the Kit Carson Loop Road. A small path connects these two, which you will take on the way back. For now, continue up and up on Trail 140.

Notice the dead trees that make up much of the landscape here–their stark silhouettes provide great contrast with the fluffy pines you’ve hiked among for so much of the hike. About a third of a mile shy of the summit of Mount Spokane, an open rockfield to your left is visible through the trees. This windswept field is a sacred area for the Spokane tribe.

Break out of the forest onto the summit of Mount Spokane. The true summit is at Vista House, a structure up the hill to your left. A structure on the National Historic Register, Vista House has been here since 1934 and was the original fire lookout for Mount Spokane. It is operated as a concession in the winter when the ski resort is open, but is available for hikers to enjoy in the summertime. Get photos from just outside Vista House, where the mountains stretch out before you into Idaho and Washington. Scotchman’s Peak in Idaho pokes above the rest of the peaks. On clear days, it’s possible to see as far as Montana.

Be sure to visit the other side of the summit, where an Eagle Scout built signs and indicators for the lakes visible from the top of Mount Spokane. Once you’ve explored the summit to your heart’s content, it’s time to head down.

Retrace your steps down Trail 140 to where the Kit Carson Loop Road is visible. This time, take the connecting trail and jump on the Kit Carson Loop Road. Turn right, and look for a stone entryway to the CCC Cabin. This little detour is a nice historical sight – CCC crews built the stone steps leading up to the cabin and the cabin itself. It is currently being restored by various volunteer groups. There’s also a port-a-potty here.

After exploring the cabin, rejoin the Kit Carson Loop Road and hike along it for about a half mile back to your final visit to saddle Junction.

Now you’ll take Trail 110 downhill. You’ll notice that this section of trail is in excellent shape, with wide, stable tread—the section you’re hiking on now was built with the help of a crew from a nearby correctional facility.

Hike two miles downhill until you arrive at a junction with Trail 100. Continue heading downhill, crossing a bridge installed by WTA crews in summer 2013. Stay on the main trail, ignoring a branching route that descends steeply to the right, and head all the way out towards the white gate that you came through to begin this hike.

 

Mount Spokane State Park - Three Peaks Loop

Map & Directions

Trailhead
Co-ordinates: 47.9046, -117.1247 Open map in new window

Trailhead

Eastern Washington -- Spokane Area/Coeur d'Alene

Trail 104 (#104), Trail 100 (#100), Trail 140 (#140), Trail 110 (#110), Trail 160 (#160), Trail 130 (#130)

Washington State Parks

See weather forecast

Guidebooks & Maps

Free printable maps at http://mountspokane.org

Getting There

From Spokane, drive north on Hwy 2 to Hwy 206. Follow Hwy 206 for 15 miles to the park entrance. Pass the park entrance, and continue to a large bend in the road. There is a pullout parking lot with about 20 parking spots, but no other facilites. A Discover Pass is required.

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

Discover Pass
 

You can improve or add to this guidebook entry

Mount Spokane State Park - Three Peaks Loop

7 Trip Reports

Hiked here recently?

Submit a trip report!
 
Trip Reports