1) Ride the new north bank section of the Spokane River Centennial Trail
This newly completed missing link on the north bank of downtown Spokane through Kendall Yards gives you access to stunning views of the Spokane River falls under the Monroe Street bridge, It’s worth it for the ride alone because you can now ride a great loop of trail all around the river through downtown and Browne`s Addition.
You also want to ride this for easy access to some great new restaurants:
- Central Food with cycling chef David Blaine (open 7 days a week; locally sourced foods; plenty of gluten-free choices; and meat lovers take note — he makes his own bacon, sausage, prosciutto….);
- Yards Bruncheon (who wouldn’t want to eat brunch 7 days a week? Locally sourced comfort food);
- and rumor has it they’ll be joined at some point by Veraci Pizza, a long-time wood-fired favorite at the South Perry Farmers’ Market (gluten-free crust available).
You’ll pass the bike-friendly Elk Pub in Browne’s Addition with its big multi-bike parking spot out front. Vegetarians, try the black bean burger.
Start this ride from anywhere along the trail in downtown. Riverfront Park’s Rotary Fountain makes a great spot to cool off with a quick dash through the spray and you can hop on the nearby Looff Carousel for a grab at the brass ring.
Key resource: Centennial Trail map (While you’re at it, you might donate a few bucks to Friends of the Centennial Trail for all their work over the years to develop this fantastic connection through the heart of Spokane that runs all the way to Idaho, where it connects with the North Idaho Centennial Trail)
2) Ride Your Mountain Bike 24 Hours Round the Clock May 24-25
This team relay mountain bike ride will be held May 24-25 this year. The experienced race organizers at Round and Round Productions say, “Anyone who can ride a bike can do this….your team decides how many laps each person does…one or a whole bunch. So bring your camping gear, bike gear and whatever else will keep you going for 24 hours… then come on out and get dirty with us!”
3) More Mountain Biking: Beacon Hill & Camp Sekani, Mt. Spokane & Riverside State Park
Did we mention Spokane makes an awesome base camp? There are abundant reasons that Outside magazine ranked Spokane one of the top 18 towns for outdoors enthusiasts. (Note: You’ll need a state Discover Pass to park a car at trailheads in Washington State Parks. The fee helps fund state parks facilities, including parking. Bike there? It’s free.)
Imagine hopping onto single-track just a few miles from the heart of downtown Spokane — or a few minutes from the heart of downtown if you head downstream to Riverside State Park. Climb hills or mountains and enjoy the pine scent.
The Eastern Washington chapter of the Evergreen Mountain Bike Association (formerly the Fat Tire Trail Riders Club) has worked on the Beacon Hill trails — 30 miles of trails through 1,000 acres of public and private property — for years. Get out and enjoy the fruits of their labors, and consider throwing in some volunteer time to help make the trails even better. Riverside State Park has 50 official miles in 10,000 acres — go get away from it all.
- Camp Sekani/Beacon Hill map
- Mt. Spokane mountain bike trail map (PDF)
- Mt. Spokane review on MTBR.com (Like riding Mt. Spokane? Support Friends of Mt. Spokane State Park)
- Riverside State Park general activity map (like it? Support Friends of Riverside State Park)
- Riverside State Park bike page with map
4) South Hill Four Parks Loop
Thanks to the Olmsted Brothers, all of Spokane boasts beautiful neighborhood parks, so you can ride your bike to any/all of them. One loop offering food stops and a nice mix of park environments: On the upper South Hill you can ride a mix of quiet streets and bike lanes connecting Comstock, Cannon, Manito, and Lincoln Parks.
Start from any of these or, more strategically, start at The Scoop and finish there with ice cream!
On Mother’s Day Manito will be packed — everyone seems to think (and rightly so) that taking Mom to enjoy beautiful flowers is a great way to celebrate her day. On Labor Day you’ll want to start/end at Comstock Park to hear the annual Spokane Symphony concert (Sept. 1, 2014).
Great features of this loop:
- Striking overlook views of the city if you make sure your route includes Summit Drive and Lincoln Park;
- Beautiful homes along Summit, Rockwood Boulevard, and other streets — if you don’t live in Spokane you’ll want to move here after you ride this area;
- The chance to jump in the pool at Comstock if the day is warm (which it often is in sunny Spokane);
- The gorgeous gardens of Manito Park — from lilacs (ride in spring! Spokane is the Lilac City, after all) to the Japanese Gardens to the Gaiser Conservatory Greenhouses — and the duck pond (just don’t feed the ducks);
- Peace and quiet at Cannon and Lincoln, which get less traffic than the larger Manito and Comstock;
- Delicious made-in-Spokane Brain Freeze ice cream at The Scoop on fresh waffle cones they make right there, along with sandwiches and soups, strategically located about 4 blocks from Comstock Park;
- Lunch/snacks at the Park Bench Cafe in Manito (open Memorial Day to Labor Day;
- Pastries, quiche, and more at Rockwood Bakery close to Manito Park on 81th (note — extremely limited gluten-free offerings)
- Spokane County Bike Map (PDF of 2011 version — we’ll update these links when the new one comes out later in 2014), side A
- Spokane County Bike Map, side B (PDF)
5) Ride Your Bike to Artfest May 30-June 1, 2014
… because a bike is the only vehicle that makes sense in the narrow streets of historic Browne’s Addition when it overflows with thousands of people who love art, music, hands-on art for kids, and kettle corn.
This year Spokane’s Artfest will be held May 30-June 1, 2014. While you’re there you can also check out the MAC, the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture, which puts on Artfest.
6) The Next Weekend, Ride Your Bike to Elkfest June 6-8
See above — over 10,000 fans of this free indie music fest make bikes the right way to get there and listen. Now in its 10th year it’s Spokane’s biggest block party, held June 6-8, 2014, in Browne’s Addition — a historic neighborhood named one of America’s Great Neighborhoods in 2009 by the American Planning Association.
7) Ride the Centennial Trail from Spokane or Spokane Valley to Liberty Lake
Depending on where you live or where you’re staying as a visitor, two great options:
From Spokane: Start anywhere on the trail in downtown and ride all the way to Liberty Lake and back.
While you’re at it see if you can spot all the pieces of public and private art along the trail. You’ll rack up art points big time if you stop in at the Jundt Art Museum on the campus of Gonzaga University (look for its copper spire on the north bank), and check out the sculptures on the Riverpoint campus operated by WSU Spokane right across the river (south bank), both on the east end of downtown.
From Spokane Valley: Rally your friends at Mirabeau Park and go from there (maybe check out Discovery Playground, the multi-sensory accessible play place for people of all ages and abilities). It’s about 14 miles round trip from Mirabeau to the Starbucks in the shopping plaza you’ll see just after passing over I-90 — or for more local flavor, the Twisp Cafe & Coffee House just a little bit farther along Appleway.
You can also head into Liberty Lake proper and check out their trails and parks. The Spokane Symphony plays an outdoor concert in Pavilion Park each Labor Day weekend; in 2014 it’s on Aug. 30, the day before their Comstock Park concert.
8) Summer Parkways June 18, 2014
That four-park loop we recommend above? Check out a piece of it with the annual Spokane Summer Parkways June 18, 2014, when people-powered movement takes over the city streets. This Ciclovia/Open Streets event brings out grandmas and grandkids, strollers and scooter, unicycles and hula hoopers and a Zumba class or two along the way. Oh, and did we mention lots and lots of people on all kinds of bikes?
The streets are shady, the neighbors bring out lawn chairs to wave at you as you pass, and you’ll find lots of information tables in the park staffed by volunteers interested in helping you find fun, healthy, and interesting things to do in Spokane. (Look for the WA Bikes booth and say hi!)
Summer Parkways is holding a street party at Corbin Park July 18, too.
9) Spokefest Sept. 7, 2014
This family-friendly fall ride (and Spokane’s largest bicycling event) offers loops of various length from the one-mile “just getting rolling” flat route and bike rodeo in Riverfront Park to routes of 9, 21, or 50 miles. This year it takes place Sept. 7, 2014.
The stunning Spokane Falls loop takes you along the route for Bloomsday, Spokane’s iconic road race, where you’ll see gorgeous fall colors (and ride up “Doomsday Hill”–but hey, those runners do it and they don’t have a granny gear). The ride ends at Riverfront Park, where volunteers watch your precious while you cruise through SpokeFair (say hi to the WA Bikes booth!).
The Spokefest Association uses proceeds from the ride to make grants to nonprofit organizations helping improve bike safety in the Spokane area. Here’s a look at a video with scenes from 2008 (first year) & 2009.
We love our fests: Noticing a trend in community event names? Artfest, Elkfest, Spokefest. Spokane has Hoopfest, too — the biggest 3-on-3 basketball tournament on Planet Earth. Ride your bike downtown June 28-29, 2014, and check it out; with 250,000 players, cheering family members, and spectators, you won’t find a parking place anywhere nearby.
10) Inland Northwest Ale Trail
This map of microbreweries developed for drivers will guide you from sips to suds and from Washington to Idaho and back again. We hope to bring the bike-friendly version to you soon.
The Ale Trail extends beyond Spokane to Airway Heights (close to Spokane), Pullman, and Republic, and into Idaho to Post Falls, Coeur d’Alene, and Ponderay. For a day trip loop around a few of them (make sure you stop at River City Red in Spokane’s Carnegie Square and say hi for us — owner Gage Stromberg has supported Spokane bicycling events and organizations for years and authored a great op-ed piece on bikes in the Spokesman-Review in 2013). For a full-on tour of the trail pack your bags (and you may want a copy of Cycling Sojourner Washington for its how-to chapter on planning a bike tour).
11) Bonus: Check Out Local Clubs, Rides, & Races
Spokane Bicycle Club: Open to all ages and abilities, SBC organizes recreational rides with a variety of length, pace, and day/time options. Members are essential volunteers at Spokane events such as Bloomsday, where they run the bike corral at packet pick-up, and are tapped to help with bike events like Summer Parkways, Spokefest, and the new Commute of the Century.
Spokane Bikes: Not a club, this group of volunteers puts together the annual Bike to Work Week celebration each year. Get in touch if you like putting on great parties and motivating others to get out there and ride.
Ladies only: Belles and Baskets goes on low-key, y’all-come rides twice a month, usually on second Sunday afternoons and fourth Tuesdays after 6. Rides always, always start/end at a place where you can sit, talk, and eat/drink/be merry. They hold a special Spokefest preview ride men are welcome to join; the rest of the time this one is women-only.
Ladies only: WOW Women’s Cycling, a membership club, shares information through its email list; contact email@example.com for updates. They post very rarely on their Facebook page.
Baddlands: This racing/recreation club puts on the Twilight Series of Spokane bike races throughout the summer and offers a variety of group rides around Spokane County.
River City Red: Cycling team sponsored by the brewery
Spokane Rocket Velo: This racing/recreation club organizes the challenging Ronde van Palouse race (tagline: “because nobody’s ready in April”) and crits and offers group rides.
Evergreen East: Eastern WA chapter of the Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance. Building trails and riding them!
Riverside Alley Rats: On Facebook; the Web site of the same name points to a group in California. The FB page is pretty quiet but if you like what they’re posting, become a fan and see what happens.
The rest of the bike-racing teams/clubs: We know Spokane has more — drop a link in the comments and we’ll update this list.
More to Come!
This list leaves out a lot of great rides, destinations, and activities you can get to by bike in the Lilac City. We didn’t talk about:
- Kidical Mass rides organized by Summer Parkways; next one is Sept. 11, 2014
- seeing how many bike events you can attend that have Roast House Coffee serving up delicious organic, direct trade coffee — it’s most of them! Owner Deb Di Bernardo whips up Gear Grinder Blend to benefit our advocacy work and delivers coffee by bike around Spokane
- participating in some of the great longer organized rides like the Lilac Century in April, 8 Lakes Leg Aches, Jedermann Gran Fondo coming up July 19, and more
- making a day-long loop of all the Rocket Bakery locations in town (Ride the Rocket! Fueled by caffeine!)
- the “bikespedition” neighborhood shopping/exploring outings you’ll find on the Bike Style Spokane blog
- the ride south from Spokane to Valleyford for a cup at On Sacred Grounds coffee shop because who wouldn’t use coffee as an excuse for a 50-mile round trip on a nice Saturday (or maybe a cheese-making class? This tiny little coffee shop/bookstore occasionally holds interesting events)
- riding your bike to every farmers’ market in the city (and beyond, to Millwood and Liberty Lake) — we should create some kind of badge for this
- checking out bike connections in every quarter of Spokane by riding the Commute of the Century, 5 loops planned to allow you to survey bike routes and give feedback to the city. Ride every route and you’ve covered 100 miles of Spokane city streets.
- riding your bike in the annual Pride Parade, St. Patrick’s Day Parade, Lilac Parade
The list goes on and on; we’re already almost done with our second 10 Fun Things in Spokane by Bike post just with these.
- What’s your personal favorite thing to do by bike in Spokane? Add it in the comments below and watch for another round-up to come with your nominations.
- Want to write “10 Fun Things to Do by Bike in Your WA Town”? Drop a line to Louise and become a guest blogger. We hope you’ll cover something for all kinds of riders: family biking, women-only, short and long distances, different types of bikes, fun/challenging/competitive, scenic/cultural/offbeat. Give us a taste of the geography and the bike culture where you live.