Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Little Spokane River, Spokane County, Washington

Small Boats, No Motors Allowed

The Little Spokane River is about 6 miles northwest of Spokane and is managed as a joint project between the Spokane County Parks and Riverside State Park.

The navigate-able portion of Little Spokane River is approximately 7.3 miles long within a 1,993 acre natural area next to Rutter Parkway. This river is pretty much the same as it looked hundreds of years ago when the Native Americans used it for hunting and fishing. 

Other popular activities here include kayaking, canoeing, and fishing. The river is typically slow moving with a max river depth of about 40-60 feet at its deepest points. It is recommended that when paddling this river one stays in the middle as there are many areas where branches, etc. hang just above the water (called sweepers) and can potentially sweep you off your craft. This is particularly important during spring run off when the river is much swifter and colder. Other than during spring run off or during flash floods the river is slow moving but can still be dangerous especially during the colder times of year.

Doing a paddle trip on this river is either an easy 3.5 mile or 7 mile paddle depending where you put in at. The unique freshwater marsh you will be passing through is home to a wide variety of wildlife such as moose, deer, elk, otter, muskrat, beaver, songbirds, woodpeckers, raptors, and waterfowl. This marsh is important as Great Blue Heron rookeryn within tall cottonwoods by the riverbanks.

When on a paddling trip here, you know you are coming to the end when you pass under a bridge then see some rapids for the first time. Just before these rapids, to your left is the take out site. One could paddle through the rapids and follow the river down until it intersects with the Spokane River; then paddle up the Spokane River to the paved boat launch (this part of the Spokane River is considered part of Lake Spokane). The paved boat launch is just a short distance down the road from the Little Spokane River Take-Out-site. I don't try to paddle up the Spokane River to the boat launch during spring run off or high water times of the year because the Spokane River can be near impossible to paddle up during this time.

Fishing limits and restrictions apply as specified by current fish and game regulations. In addition, park rules don't allow fishing from the banks so one can only fish from a non-motorized water craft such as a kayak, drift boat (without electric motor), canoe, or raft. No part of your body is allowed to be in the water so using float tubs with fins is not allowed. Fish species that make this river their home include salmon, trout, carp, catfish, bass, and perch.

Little Spokane River Rules
1. No swimming or any part of ones body can be in the water. No air mattresses or inner-tubes are allowed. Canoes, kayaks, and rafts ONLY.
2. No motorized craft are allowed.
3. No alcoholic beverages are allowed.
4. No pets allowed.
6. No disturbing the wildlife!
7. No fishing from shore. Fishing allowed from non-motorized craft only.
8. No Littering! Pack it in, Pack it Out.
9. No hunting.
10. No Camp fires.
11. No horses.
12. No bicycles.
13. No off road vehicles...
14. Wear your personal floatation device at all times.
15. All Persons regardless of Age SHALL wear a Personal Floatation Devices (PFD) while on moving water! Moving water shall be the Little Spokane River and Spokane River from the Washington/Idaho State Line to the Centennial Trail Bridge at Plants Ferry Park and the City of West Spokane west to the Nine Miles Public Public Launch. Per Spokane County Ordinance 6.03.020. If you do not know where these sections of the river are just wear a PFD while on any part of the river, which is a good safe practice regardless.

Info: Contact Park Rangers (http://www.riversidestatepark.org) about any issue that may affect the park and safety of visitors. Visit River Side State Park for all info related to this river such as closures, sweepers, river flow, etc.

Access the Little Spokane River/Directions:  From I-90 at Spokane, WA take the Division Street exit and drive north across the bridge and up the hill to Francis Ave. Turn left at Francis Ave. and follow it west until it ends and turns into Highway 291. Follow State Route 291 North past Rutter Parkway Road and Nine Mile Falls. A mile past Rutter Parkway Road is the turn off for the take-out-site area on N. Shoemaker Ln. (there will be a boat launch sign). Follow this road until you come to the park near a creek with rapids; this is the place. This take-out-site is before you get to the Spokane River paved boat launch area. Leave a car here and go back to Rutter Parkway Road. Follow Rutter Parkway Road east until it intersects Indian Trail Road, then turn left (north) onto this road. The first put-in site is just over the bridge. The second put-in site is past the next bridge up W St. Georges Road.

 River Access Points

1. Additional Directions & Info: The first access site is via the parking lot just after you cross the bridge. The portage trail to the river is out the back of the parking lot (If you start to drive up the hill after the bridge you've gone too far). There is an outhouse with some informative signs at this parking area. When launching from here it is about a 3.5 mile trip down the river to the take-out-site near the Spokane River.

2. Additional Directions & Info: The 2nd and last put-in-site is after the next (2nd) bridge. As you come to this bridge the road changes names to Waikiki Road. After the bridge, turn right/west onto W St. Georges Road. Before the end of this road where the school is located you will see a sign and gravel road to the Little Spokane River put-in-site. The access site to the river is well defined and wide. There are restrooms and info signs here with no running water. Its about a 7 mile trip down the river to the take-out-site near the Spokane River.

1. Take-Out-Site
Caution: This river is often called a slow moving river. This is true in the summer, but during spring run off the river can move quite rapidly. Caution should be observed anytime you are on a river or stream. Be especially cautious during spring run off when rivers are much more swift and new fallen tress can block the river; low branches can sweep you off your craft (called sweepers), and cold water also presents potential danger.

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