I often try and share the most photo-worthy, exciting, or iconic hiking locations around the Inland Northwest. Sontag Park and the newest section of the Centennial Trail make my list of spots to share for a different reason. There are great grassy lawns, dirt trails, and wildflowers as far as the eye can see in the Spring. However, what makes Sontag worth talking about is its unassuming usability and relatively low crowds.
The Centennial Trail is a nearly 40-mile paved, multi-use trail spanning from Spokane County to Idaho. Sontag Park is home to the start of this ADA accessible, dog-friendly, running, and biking hub. Some of my favorite places for a family or pet session are along this very trail.
What many people don’t know is that in 2016 a 2-mile extension going from Sontag Park to the Nine Mile Falls Recreation area was created. Even though it’s been open for a few years now, the crowds are low and often limited to locals walking their dogs and kids riding their bikes. If you make it all the way to the end, you are rewarded with access to Lake Spokane, bathrooms, a swimming area, and a spot for a picnic before you have to turn around and head back.
The Centennial Trail can be BOOMING with traffic on weekends and evenings. Still, this hidden section out of Sontag seems to often escape the crowds.
Trails and More Trails
On either side of the Centennial Trail in this area, you’ll find great single-track paths traversing through the pines and a few weaving down to the river. While these aren’t anything too strenuous, you can definitely find some quiet spaces to walk with your dog and look for wildlife for an hour or more. My son especially loves taking his bike on these trails as he is starting to make a move from paved paths to dirt, and Sontag’s trail system provides a great transition.
Wildlife provides excellent photography opportunities but also epic distractions for our four-legged friends. Don’t be surprised when a deer busts out of the trees in front of you on the trail.
Nine Mile Falls Dam
The Nine Mile Falls Dam has viewing points accessible from Sontag Park and provides for some really cool photos at any time of the year.
Built in 1908 by Jay P Graves, as an answer to the monopoly Washington Water Power held on electricity. The Spokane and Inland Empire Power Company was born from this construction. Still, it only lasted for a few years until the 1920s when Washington Water Power bought it out.
To this day, the Nine Mile Falls Dam stands as one of the best-preserved historic water power sites in the state; Being listed on the National Register of Historic Places, it alone is worth the trip to Sontag Park.
- For Directions on how to get to Sontag Park, look here.
- No Discover Pass is required, making this a unique access point to Riverside State Park.
- Dogs are welcome!
- The playground is shared by the elementary school, so keep this in mind when visiting during the school year.
Sontag Park, and the newest addition to the Centennial Trail, are a must do for anyone looking to beat the crowds and get outdoors.
Do you have a favorite section of the Centennial Trail I should write about soon? If so, drop me an email firstname.lastname@example.org or leave me a comment.