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Outdoor Play

Updated: Jun 12, 2023

Local adventures for your health and soul

By Taylor Shillam

A healthy dose of sun-provided vitamin D is just the beginning of the many ways outdoor activities affect our health—mind, body and soul. Spending time in nature has been shown to help reduce stress hormones, lower blood pressure and boost overall mood. Thankfully, the Inland Northwest is rich with ideal locations for soaking up the sun, catching a breath of fresh air, and taking in the beauty of the summer season.

From biking trails to sparkling lakes, exceptional hikes and parks for the whole family, the Inland Northwest is your summer destination for outdoor activities that can boost your mental and physical health.

Mountain Biking and Bike Trails

From North Idaho to Spokane and beyond, mountain biking trails for all skill levels are ready for the taking. Popular spots include Spokane's Riverside State Park and Beacon Hill, offering several highly accessible trails. The Centennial Trail, stretching from Nine Mile Falls past the Washington/Idaho state line and into Coeur d’Alene, provides 40 miles of paved trail for local bikers to ride and explore close to home. Those ready to take a day trip can enjoy a ride on the popular Hiawatha Trail, known as a scenic, family friendly cruise alongside the Bitterroot Mountains.

Take A Hike

The Inland Northwest is home to a long list of hikes offering unique viewpoints and trails of all lengths, from Spokane’s Mt. Spokane State Park, home to huckleberries and the Quartz Mountain Lookout, to the moderately challenging 8.5-mile Liberty Lake Loop, to North Idaho’s Mineral Ridge and Canfield Mountain Loop.

Spokane's Palisades Park offers trails with city views contrasted with local wildlife. A visit to Dishman Hills Conservation Area is a great choice for climbers, with manageable all-ages trails that lead to the popular Rocks of Sharon.

Challenge yourself with the Scotchman Peak Trail, located near Clark Fork and known for its significant elevation gain, stellar views, and frequent mountain goat sightings.

Lakeside Swims

When you're ready to hit the beach or cool off from the heat, you won't have to look far to find a lakeside swim in the Inland Northwest. Home to popular lake day locations including beautiful Lake Coeur d'Alene, Lake Pend Oreille and Priest Lake, plus more than 70 additional lakes and rivers, the Inland Northwest offers plenty of opportunity to swim, fish, boat and play in the water.

Lake Coeur d'Alene offers a complete experience, with beach volleyball, hiking at Tubbs Hill, the beautiful City Park and the Coeur d'Alene downtown area, all in one walkable location.

Additional spots include Garfield Bay on Lake Pend Oreille, Liberty Lake and Regional Park, Spirit Lake, and more.

Visiting Priest Lake is a worthwhile day trip — just 80 miles northwest of Spokane and often considered "Idaho's Crown Jewel," Priest Lake offers endless opportunities for recreation and adventure, including swimming, boating, hiking, golf, and views of the Selkirk Mountains.

Park Play The Inland Northwest’s unique, centrally located parks offer something for the entire family to enjoy. At Spokane Valley's Discovery Playground at Mirabeau Park, kids can enjoy the playground designed to accommodate all ages and abilities, including a summer splash pad, before visiting the nearby portion of the Centennial Trail. Visit on a Friday night from June to September to catch the Spokane Valley Farmer Market!

Additional local highlights include Liberty Lake's Orchard Park, featuring multiple sport courts, pavilions, a splash pad, and large playground, and Coeur d'Alene City Park, home to the Fort Sherman playground, volleyball and basketball courts, and live music along the lake.

For an outdoor adventure in the Inland Northwest, you won’t have to go far. For a small dose of nature therapy, or an entire day trip adventure, you can hike, bike, walk and play your way through an Inland Northwest summer.

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