Deep Creek Canyon
Photo by Kodi Clary

Bowl and Pitcher is one of the more well-known areas of Spokane for people who enjoy spending time outdoors, and for good reason. Unique rock outcroppings, a suspension bridge that crosses the Spokane River and a fairly easy trail system makes Bowl and Pitcher perfect for families and casual day hikers. What many people in the Spokane area haven’t seemed to have discovered is a spot about ten minutes away from Bowl and Pitcher called Deep Creek Canyon. Deep Creek is similar in its interesting rock formations, but is far less crowded and provides a unique perspective of the area, as you can walk through the mostly-dry creek bed, looking up at the basalt canyon walls.

Deep Creek Canyon
Photo by Paul Clary

Since discovering Deep Creek about a year ago, I have been back fairly regularly with friends, family and my dog. On the approximately five-mile loop (depending on which route you take), we normally run in to two or three other groups of people, mostly consisting of climbers scaling the approximately 200 foot canyon walls.

While there are several ways to explore the area, and a couple of different trail options, I prefer taking trail #25 one direction and walking through the canyon on the way back, as it provides the most unique views and varied landscapes.

From the parking lot, begin your hike on a road-like trail for about half a mile before reaching the trailhead on your left. The trail then leads you down into the canyon where you cross it and head up the opposite side. The incline is fairly gradual and most of the hike is moderate and would be doable for most hikers. The trail on this side of the canyon winds up through a wooded area surrounded by Ponderosa pines and then opens up, providing spectacular views of the canyon. As you wind your way through mounds of broken up basalt, traveling between wooded areas and more open sections, there are plenty of places to explore and climb, and lookouts to see various views of the canyon and the Spokane River. Then you begin to gradually descend towards the Centennial Trail. Deep Creek CanyonThe two trails meet just above the river at a spot that is perfect for taking a swim or letting your dog play in the water before continuing back. There is also a picnic area in the shade of a huge tree that is perfect for climbing. From here, you can hike up the other side of the canyon or through it to get back to the parking lot. Having taken both routes, I would highly recommend hiking through the canyon.

Deep Creek was formed, like many areas in the Columbia Basin, as a result of the combination of basalt lava floods millions of years ago and the Great Missoula Flood. The resulting landscape makes you feel like you’re on the set of Jurassic Park. With the combination of smooth, round rocks lining the bottom of the creek bed and the jagged, basalt walls surrounding you, it’s hard to believe you are only a few miles outside the city limits.

Deep Creek Canyon
Photo by Grant Vissers

While it would be easy to take a whole day exploring this area, Deep Creek is a great hike to do after work or when you have a couple hours to spare. Its close proximity to town, moderate inclines and beautiful landscape make it the perfect place to get away from your busy life and enjoy the outdoors without having to set aside a whole day to do so.

Directions to the Trail:

Take Highway 291 north from Francis and turn left onto Lowell Ave, which turns in to Seven Mile Road. Turn right onto N State Park Drive and follow it until it leads to a parking lot.

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