Dishman Hills Loop
This prime piece of nature is the result of greater Spokane area residents who worked to protect the Dishman Hills Conservation Area over 30 years ago. The conservation area is 530-acres of rocky hills, ponds, trees, and a profusion of wildflowers in the spring. We went in March, a bit before the flowers made their appearance. The loop itself is 4.8 miles (round-trip), takes approximately 2.5 hours, and is moderately difficult.
The park is in a convenient location, just off I-90 at the Sprague exit in Spokane Valley. Parking is free in the large lot off of Sargent Road or at Camp Caro and the trailhead is located in the main parking lot. Restrooms and picnic areas can be found in the Camp Caro lodge. I highly recommend downloading a GPS hiking-biking app before venturing out (such as Trailforks or AllTrails). The trails are not well marked and it is very easy to get side-tracked by one of many side trails that are not on the main map. If you happen to get disoriented, then stop and listen for traffic noise coming from Appleway Boulevard.
Our intent had been to venture from the parking lot to Deep Ravine Loop Trail. The lack of adequate trail signs put a wrench in this plan before we even left the parking lot! There were four of us on the trail that day, three kids (17, 14, and 12) and me. We each had water and a few snacks. Be sure to bring extra water, or leave some in the car. After 2.5 hours, we were all out.
The Adventure in a Nutshell
Unbeknown to us, we started out on the Pond Loop Trail. This was in mid-March and we found thin layers of ice still on the ponds. A tree had fallen over one pond, which provided entertainment as we all walked across and tested our balance. From there we ventured over to the Nimbus Loop Trail, which we didn’t know at the time. There were some incredible views to be had if one ventured on a side trail to the top of a rocky outcropping.
After many twists, turns, and backtracks, we finally made it to our favorite part of the hike. I’m not sure we would have found it without my son using GPS navigation through Trailforks: Deep Ravine Loop. The trail was exactly like it sounds, located at the bottom of a ravine. What made it so spectacular was the lush greenery and the silence. The trail was wide and easy. There were giant rock outcroppings for the kids to climb and the wind made a gentle rustle through the aspen trees.
Unfortunately, not all is wonderful at Dishman Hills. There were many areas where there appeared to have been a homeless camp, especially where the rocks and trees provided shelter from the wind. Trash littered these areas and smoke on the rocks indicated fires had been lit at some point. Younger hikers might tire taking the full loop – pay attention to the map at the beginning and plan accordingly.
Bottom Line: We would come back to this park. Would we do the full loop? No. We would stick to the Deep Ravine area, and picnic at Camp Caro afterward. All in all, it was a wonderful day without any crowds of people, and only the occasional dog off-leash. If you plan to hike the Nimbus Trail or Eagle Peak, then go early or on a cooler day. There is very little shade to provide relief from the sun.
Feel free to reach out if you are looking for other hiking opportunities in the Spokane Area or want to discuss a possible move to enjoy all this valley has to offer.