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Painted Rocks - Knothead Trail Loop

Intermediate/Difficult
 4.5 (17) RECOMMENDED ROUTE

This hike goes along the river, climbs up to a high viewpoint and dips down through a deep valley.


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Map Key

6.6

Miles

10.7

KM

Loop

2,449' 747 m

High

1,555' 474 m

Low

874' 266 m

Up

922' 281 m

Down

5%

Avg Grade (3°)

21%

Max Grade (12°)

Dogs No Dogs

Features Birding · Fall Colors · River/Creek · Views · Wildlife

Family Friendly The trail along the marsh area on the Indian Painted Rocks portion of the trail is a fun trail for kids. Not much elevation but enough "wildness" for a kid's adventure.

Overview

This is a very popular hike. The hike takes you through the marsh environment, then to a higher elevation with more rock, and through a valley. There is a Blue Heron rookery and deer are often frequently sighted. No bikes, dogs or motorized vehicles allowed in this area. This is also a very popular paddle route and there is a "put in" for canoes at this trailhead too.

Need to Know

The viewpoints and trail can be icy in winter, so be careful of footing.

Description

This loop is usually started from the Painted Rocks Parking Lot (Little Spokane Natural Area). If you travel in a clockwise direction (steepest direction) it follows the Little Spokane River (watch for birds and moose) and then comes to a paved road. Crossing the road you'll start the uphill climb partly on the Knothead Trail which is partly on singletrack and partly on old road.

Cross the paved road again and soon you'll come to 2 signs that say 'Leaving the Natural Area." This is the old route but it goes on private land so be sure to follow the new re-route. The wonderful re-route (take the trail to the right at this junction) sponsored by REI and built by volunteers with Washington Trails Association switchbacks up the hillside allowing some views of nearby mountains and the Spokane River in the distance.

There is a short spur trail to the right part way up that leads to some awesome viewpoints but adds a little over a mile to the total distance. It is an out and back trail at this point in time but in the future will be a secondary loop option.

Continuing to climb on an old road you'll soon come to a bench. To the left is a little trail to a viewpoint overlooking Lake Spokane in the distance. The loop then descends into a deep forested valley and then returns to the trailhead.

Note: If you are looking for a shorter options, the Indian Painted Rocks trail as an out and back is a perfect easy option for families.

Flora & Fauna

Wildflowers in the spring.

History & Background

This property is part State Park and part Conservation Futures Property (Van Horn, Edburg and Bass Conservation Area) but is managed by Riverside State Park.

Contacts

Shared By:

Karen Jurasin

Trail Ratings

  4.5 from 17 votes

#564

Overall
  4.5 from 17 votes
5 Star
59%
4 Star
35%
3 Star
0%
2 Star
6%
1 Star
0%
Recommended Route Rankings

#48

in Washington

#564

Overall
162 Views Last Month
12,598 Since Nov 17, 2015
Intermediate/Difficult

0%
0%
60%
13%
27%
0%

Photos

The highest viewpoint is a great place for a lunch stop.
Nov 16, 2015 near Fairwood, WA
This area is also great for winter travel!
Nov 16, 2015 near Fairwood, WA
Volunteers working on the tread for the new section of trail in 2014.
Nov 16, 2015 near Fairwood, WA
Absolutely love the way the WTA volunteers created stairs with some pretty neat rocks!
Nov 16, 2015 near Fairwood, WA
There were 3 deer on the trail back - not minding us a bit.
Nov 16, 2015 near Fairwood, WA
The switchbacks make it easier to ascend this steep hillside.
Nov 16, 2015 near Fairwood, WA

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Check-Ins

Sep 20, 2020
Ethan Gingerich
Jun 14, 2020
Kenzie Richards
Such a fun hike! Beautiful on the way up and even prettier on the way down! — 2h 05m
May 9, 2020
Victoria C-k
Sep 7, 2019
Jennifer Heinecke
The ascent is tough, but once you get past that, the rest of the trail is pretty easy. Lots of wildlife and beautiful views! 6.6mi — 3h 11m
Sep 1, 2019
Jessie Salazar
Aug 18, 2019
Frank Laird
Aug 16, 2019
Frank Laird
Aug 6, 2019
Frank Laird