Hiking Spokane Valley: A new route to an old favorite

bella on a fallen tree on iller creek hiking trail

You know what’s awesome? Living in an area where good trails are just a short drive away.

That’s hiking Spokane Valley.

Of course, it was a familiar feeling living in Calgary and having too many places to count in the Foothills, Kananaskis country and Banff National Park.

Now that I’ve been living in Eastern Washington for almost six years, I’ve learned there are great places to go hiking all around me, and the Rockies are only just a few hours away.

(Even in COVID-19 times and the U.S.-Canada border closed, I might be able to hit my favorite mountain range. Don’t forget Montana is just over there!)

Hiking Spokane Valley for incredible views

We got up bright and early Sunday morning and made our way to the Iller Creek Conservation Trail in Spokane Valley.

Only a few cars were parked at the base and all was quiet but for the birds greeting us with their morning songs.

bella in a little creek while hiking spokane valley

Just getting started with our hike

Our destination was the Rocks of Sharon, where we’ve been so many times before. Last summer, Bella and I did a sunrise hike to the Big Rock on the fifth anniversary of my losing Shep.

It’s a special place for us, to be sure, and definitely one of my favorite locations.

We’ve only ever started from the Stevens Creek trailhead in Valleyford, though, and ended our trek at the rocks.

We never went down the trail into the woods, although Bella has tried pulling me in that direction.

I don’t know what stopped me. Maybe it was just that I’d never looked into how long the trail was or what it looked like.

iller creek trail hiking spokane valley

Looking back down the Iller Creek hiking trail

From start to finish, Iller Creek is a solid 5 1/2 mile workout, testing the hamstrings on the way up and the resiliency of toenails slamming into your boots on the way down.

The trail is lush green right now, and our morning was still moist from the last night’s downpours. In patches along the way, it’s lined with gorgeous blue lupine.

blue lupine on iller creek trail in spokane valley

Blue lupine

Higher up, it’s decorated with blanket flower, yellow salsify and buttercups.

blanket flower in spokane valley

Blanket flower

Then the Rocks of Sharon come into view.

We stand on the patio built by giant shards of rock at the bottom of Big Rock and cast our eyes upon the magnificent view of the Palouse, with which we are so familiar.

Patches of farmland are awash in the yellow of canola fields right now.

We stayed for a snack of beef jerky and cheese and, of course, took some cool dog photos with the Palouse in the background.

bella on the palouse in spokane valley

Bella and the Palouse


bella at Rocks of Sharon in Spokane Valley

On the rocks … how I like my Bella and my whisky

We headed down the trail and discovered the back side featured switchbacks, which would have made our ascent a lot easier than a straight uphill.

Piss it. That would have been nice to know before we started.

On the way down, we were met with incredible views of Spokane Valley and, further in the distance, Mount Spokane and the Selkirk southern range.

view of Spokane Valley from Iller Creek Conservaation Area

The view from there

By the time we got back to the Iller Creek trailhead, the street was lined a half-mile deep with cars.

Oh right! Father’s Day. And Sunday. And urban trails.

Yep, that’s how a weekend goes when you’re hiking Spokane Valley.

What you don’t see

I was a bit hesitant to go hiking Spokane Valley last weekend.

Actually, I was a bit hesitant to go hiking at all. Even for a little walk at the park.

Bella had an ultrasound last Friday because her annual checkup in March and a follow-up blood draw two weeks ago revealed elevated levels of ALT in her liver.

Her bare belly would leave her susceptible to scratches from branches and really at risk for tick bites.

stoned Maremma sheepdog after ultrasound

A bare belly on my Bellieboo

She got through the hike unscathed.

Her bile acid tests came back “perfect,” says our vet.

That just means there’s more diligence to be done with supplements and tests to figure out what’s happening. It could be hepatitis, which can be determined only by biopsy, or hepatic microvascular dysplasia.

The latter is a congenital disorder that keeps the liver from functioning properly.

We’re putting Bella on Denamarin for a few months to see if that supplement helps her little organ along. More than anything, we wanted to give her a little break from pokes and prods.

Another project for me

On a lighter note, there’s cool news to share.

I’ve written a bit about my part-time job as a copy editor at the Spokesman-Review, a job I love so much and brings me back to the industry that made a camera feel like an extension of my arm.

I pitched a feature series on hiking with dogs to deputy sports editor and good buddy Madison McCord and he loved the idea. Onward to interim Outdoors editor, Dave Nichols, and the feature is born!

The first installment runs Sunday and goes more into detail about last weekend’s hike at Iller Creek.

Head to the Spokesman-Review to check it out.

All around the circle

Don’t you think hiking Spokane Valley, like up to the Rocks of Sharon, whether from Stevens Creek or Iller Creek, would be a great way to fill up an album of memories?

The Adventure Day session with me includes a 10×10 photo book designed to showcase the incredible bond you have with your four-legged explorer.

Learn more about it here:

[su_button url=”https://nosesandtoes.com/sessions/adventure-day/” target=”blank” background=”#ff7200″ icon=”icon: camera” id=”Socks”]BOOK YOUR ADVENTURE[/su_button]

In the meantime, let’s go visit the rest of the dog photographers in our worldwide blog circle. They’re sharing their favorite locations this week.

Start with Kelly Middlebrooks of Little White Dog Pet Photography in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

Click the link at the bottom of Linda’s post to get to the next post and so on. When you get back here to hiking Spokane Valley, you know you’re home.

Right where you belong.

15 thoughts on “Hiking Spokane Valley: A new route to an old favorite”

  1. Thinking of you and Bella!
    I always love your writing (along with your pictures, of course!) – a beautiful way with words. Congrats on your project – exciting stuff! What gorgeous hiking trails you have – so amazing! Wonderful post!

  2. Your photos are stunning as always. Makes me want to go hiking right now, but we don’t have those types of views close to home. Plus it’s too hot.

    Sorry to hear about your concerns with Bella’s health. Hopefully everything will work out for the best.

    Congratulations on your new assignment! It has to be so exciting!

  3. Such beautiful views – it looks like an incredible hiking trail. We are big hiking lovers here as well. While we aren’t near any mountain ranges or anything like that in our area, there are some beautiful hiking trails, many with lake views. Our dogs can’t get enough of it.

    I’m sorry to hear that you’re going through these concerns with Bella’s health. Hopefully, the supplement that you are trying will be exactly what she needs at this time.

  4. Gorgeous photos! That must have been a really beautiful walk despite all of its challenges. I’m glad to hear that Bella made it through everything without getting hurt. I’m sorry to hear that she may be a little under the weather.

  5. I live on the East coast, but I’ve always loved Washington state and the pacific Northwest. Your photos are so beautiful! I love to hike Spokane with my dogs one day.
    Love & Biscuits,
    Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them

  6. Well done with a successful hike and I love the flower photographs, they look gorgeous. I can see that Bella would be a prime target for ticks if you were not vigilant on your hike though. Ticks give me the creeps. We don’t get too many here but I remember them from the past.

    Well done with the feature opportunity I know people will enjoy it and I hope they get out and enjoy the wonderful area you live in. I just hope they include some of your scenic view shots. Wonderful stuff.

  7. I can assure you that if we lived around Spokane, I would want to book an expedition photo shoot with you. The photos of Bella are just gorgeous. I’m glad she’s feeling okay and I hope you get answers soon.

    I’m envious that you can hike. The dog-friendly trails around me in Tucson are mostly single track and there are just too many people out using them. Looking forward to your feature series! I’ll live vicariously for a bit!

  8. Stunning views! So beautiful. I can see why you love the area. I like the way you wrote about the hike up and down. I hate hikes that give you that toenails into the boot feel.

    I hope things look up for Bella.

    Congrats on your new project.

  9. Yes! As someone who loves working with dogs who enjoy adventuring, swimming, and getting a little dirty along the way, this spot is gorgeous! I’d take my Hunter here for you if we are ever in the area!

  10. Bella is so cute! Your hike looks amazing – I love all the pictures, especially of all the flowers. I’m not sure I’ll ever get to explore that area of the country, sadly. We’re all the way on the east coast, and don’t do a lot of traveling thanks, at least in part, to all the animals we care for. Luckily there’s a lot of really beautiful hiking to be had on this side of the country too!

  11. Kelly Middlebrooks

    The good news is Bella seems to be smiling through it all. Dogs are so stoic. LOVE the image at Palouse! And, good luck with your project! Yay!

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