Iller Creek Loop

Iller Creek is one of the most interesting loop hikes close to Spokane, leading to spectacular outlooks across the Spokane valley and the Selkirks to the north and only a short distance later the sprawling Palouse to the south. The trail continues to the Rocks of Sharon (Big Rock) area, featuring oversized boulders popular with rock climbers. On the return trip there’s the option to turn it into a figure-eight loop and ascend the flank of Tower Mountain.

Location Selkirk Mountains
Rating 3.1 out of 5
Difficulty Moderate (some uphill hiking)
Distance 7.8 miles
Duration 2:42 hours moving time (hiking)
Elevation Gain 2,033 feet
High Point 3,586 feet (Big Rock)
Low Point 2,371 feet (Trailhead)
Trail Type Loop
Trailbed Packed dirt, decommissioned fire road
Water Only the stretches along Iller Creek
Status County Park
Administration Dishman Hills Conservancy
Permits None required
Conditions Excellent
Camping Not allowed
Maps USGS Spokane SE
Trailhead Take I-90 exit #287 (Argonne Road). Head south on Argonne. After 1.3 miles Argonne turns into Dishman-Mica Road. After another mile take a right on Schafer Road. Continue on Schafer for about a mile, then take a right onto E 44th Avenue. Turn left after .2 miles onto S Farr Road. At the end of Farr, turn right onto E Holman Road. The trailhead is on Holman after .7 miles. There is parking for a few vehicles to the right, but this is a busy spot, so you might have to park on the street.

Google Directions (47.601795, -117.281902)

Season Year-around
Squirrel Density They were hibernating…
Features Mountaintop
Distance From
  • Coeur d’Alene 31.6 miles
  • Lewiston 115.4 miles
  • Sandpoint 67.8 miles
  • Seattle 289.7 miles
  • Spokane 11.8 miles
Resources
Nearby Hikes
Date December 3, 2016

East Ridge viewpointThe Iller Creek trail can be hiked either clockwise or counterclockwise; this guide follows it clockwise. Take the path to the left and cross Iller Creek. The trail follows the creek for a short distance beneath a light cover of trees, but soon veers off and climbs the East Ridge in a series of switchbacks. Emerging out onto the ridge, the forest receeds and offers grand views of the Spokane valley and the Selkirks to the north/northeast. The ascent then gets more gradual, with the path following the ridgeline closely and reentering the forest. Around 2 miles into the hike, there’s the option to branch off to the right and shorten the hike. This is not recommended, as the Rocks of Sharon of the outer loop are spectacular by themselves and offer great views of the Palouse below.

Big RockFollowing the Rocks, the trail descends from the West Ridge (ie, the Tower Mountain ridge), in many places following an old fire road that makes side-by-side walking easy. The trail continues downhill and joins up with Iller Creek, which it parallels back to the trailhead.

View of Spokane Valley from Tower Mountain hillsideAt the trailhead sign take a left and once again ascend the hillside, this time towards Tower Mountain. The trail follows a ridge about two-thirds up, then slides off to the right but still ascends. (You have the option, instead, to continue the ascent to Tower Mountain, however). Continue at a slight incline along the flank of the mountain until coming to a sign announcing the edge of the conservation area. Turn sharply right for a very steep downhill drop. The descent is mostly straight down, with few switchbacks and emerges onto a fire road and a small brook (probably seasonal). Follow the fire road back to the trailhead.

Enjoy this hike? Let us know in the comments below!

Trail near trailhead
Trail near trailhead
View north from East Ridge
View north from East Ridge
View east from East Ridge
View east from East Ridge
East Ridge viewpoint
East Ridge viewpoint
Antenna-studded hills surround Iller Creek
Antenna-studded hills surround Iller Creek
Filtered views east from East Ridge
Filtered views east from East Ridge
Trail heading south
Trail heading south
Snow-covered trail ascending towards Big Rock
Snow-covered trail ascending towards Big Rock
Rocks of Sharon
Rocks of Sharon
View south
View south
One of the large rocks of the Rocks of Sharon group
One of the large rocks of the Rocks of Sharon group
Icicle-hung boulders
Icicle-hung boulders
View south from Big Rock
View south from Big Rock
Big Rock
Big Rock
Palouse
Palouse
Large boulders
Large boulders
Most of the trail on the West Ridge is tree-covered
Most of the trail on the West Ridge is tree-covered
A decommissioned fire road leads the way back
A decommissioned fire road leads the way back
Little snow near the trailhead
Little snow near the trailhead
Ascent toward Tower Mountain
Ascent toward Tower Mountain
View of Spokane Valley from Tower Mountain hillside
View of Spokane Valley from Tower Mountain hillside
Extensive logging before conversion to conservation area
Extensive logging before conversion to conservation area
Yours truly…
Yours truly…
A small brook on the return trip from Tower Mountain
A small brook on the return trip from Tower Mountain
Trailhead
Trailhead

Trailmap
Alternate Routes

  • Skip the Tower Mountain loop. This will cut the total elevation gain almost in half
  • Continue all the way to the top of Tower Mountain. This trail is unmaintained, but appears well-established.

 

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