Barton Haynes here, now in Spokane, Washington. Last week I wrote about my favorite rides on the Centennial trail. This week I thought I would talk about riding the whole Centennial trail, as well as a future Spokane riding goal.
Centennial Trail Overview
The Centennial trail is a mostly trail (paved) with some stretches of road that runs along the Spokane river from West-Spokane to Coeur d’Alene. This trail is a 63 miles in one direction – if you do a round trip on this trail you can ride just over a full century, hence the name “Centennial”. Of the trail:
- 39 of these miles run along the Spokane river
- 24 miles continue along the river through Idaho to Coeur d’Alene
Most of the trail is paved, though riding the full distance also requires you to ride on some roads. Fortunately, the few stretches of road you have to ride on aren’t terribly busy, and they provide a bike lane. The Centennial trail is beloved in Spokane because:
- It’s not busy at all, with some stretches of riding entailing miles without running into anyone
- It’s extremely beautiful
- It’s mostly flat, with a couple of challenging hills
- If you ride the whole thing, you get to see the landscape slowly change from desert to a wetter climate
On my rides, especially if I go during the day or early in the morning, I occasionally see another biker or jogger, but it’s rare. Case in point, I rode a 10 mile stretch of the trail in the morning and only sawn 2 bikers and 1 jogger the entire time!
Centennial Trail Ride
I’ll walk through the Centennial trail ride, as best as I can remember – some parts I know extremely well because I ride them with regularity, and other parts I’ve only ridden a couple of times. It is 63 miles of riding after all, and going each direction feels almost like a different ride.
First, here’s a map of the ride. The trail is highlighted yellow, with the road portions being either green or red.
I’ll start at Long Lake, which is the western beginning of the trail.
- You start by riding through Riverside State Park, and briefly jumping on Carlson road and before getting back on to the trail and riding on the trail
- At 7 mile you briefly jump onto State Park drive and ride past Bowl and Pitcher and then over the water via a bridge, before having to jump on the road again – this entire stretch is gorgeous, with some nice hills and great vistas overlooking the river and light traffic
- You then ride on a less than ideal road, up a several hundred foot hill and through some neighborhoods along the river before being able to get back on the trail again – this stretch is my least favorite part
- You then stay on the trail and ride through all of downtown Spokane along the water, I like this ride but it’s definitely the most crowded portion of the entire ride
- East of Spokane, you cross over the river and eventually get back on the road (E Upriver Drive) – it’s a nice wide bike lane on a fairly busy road that runs along the river for about 7 miles – this is my second least favorite part of the entire trail
- But then, at East Maringo Drive (there’s a restroom here and parking) you jump back on the trail and stay on the trail all the way until Post Falls – the stretch between Maringo Drive and the state line is absolutely awesome, with extremely low traffic, excellent diversity of landscape, and lots of privacy – you go through Spokane Valley and past Liberty Lake
- At the state line you cross under the highway and then go over a bride, where you ride right next to the highway, though before you cross the bridge you also have the option of riding to Liberty Lake itself – there’s aren’t many people and the trail is nice and open, but you’re also right next to the highway if you choose to go to Post Falls…
Important to note that supposedly you can ride mostly on trails through Idaho and all the way into Montana, though I think this involves having a hybrid bike because significant portions are off paved trail.
Anyway, that’s a very brief overview of the entire trail. I would say that the main “chunks” of riding this trail are:
- Riverside Park riding
- Riverside-downtown transition on the road (least favorite part)
- Downtown (interesting but crowded)
- Upriver drive on the road (nice bike lane, but busy road)
- Maringo Drive to Spokane Valley (VERY low traffic, incredible vistas, and some nice swimming holes)
- Spokane Valley to I90 bridge (also a very nice ride)
- Bridge to Post falls or to Liberty Lake