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.
|Rating||3.1 out of 5|
|Difficulty||Moderate (some uphill hiking)|
|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)|
|Trailbed||Packed dirt, decommissioned fire road|
|Water||Only the stretches along Iller Creek|
|Administration||Dishman Hills Conservancy|
|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)
|Squirrel Density||They were hibernating…|
|Date||December 3, 2016|
The 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.
Following 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.
At 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.
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- 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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