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Mount Spokane State Park - Mount Kit Carson Loop Road

Eastern Washington

Location

Eastern Washington -- Spokane Area/Coeur d'Alene

Length

13.0 miles, roundtrip

Elevation

Gain: 1300 ft.
Highest Point: 5220 ft.

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Beginning in 1909, Spokane park visionary Francis Cook constructed a road to his Paradise Camp that included the upper portion of the Mount Kit Carson Loop Road. The road is no longer open to visitor vehicles, and its easy grade as it climbs the 6.5 miles to the Cook's Cabin Heritage Area make it a good option for group and family hikes or bike rides. With a trailhead at either end, it's easy to hike a portion of the full route or arrange a point-to-point hike with a shuttle vehicle.

The Lower Mount Kit Carson Loop Road trailhead begins from the hairpin turn at 3920 feet. The trail crosses portions of Burping Brook shortly inside the gated access. Visitors will find picnic tables tucked beneath giant cedars in three locations within the first mile, making short hikes and relaxing picnic dinners an inviting option. Just past the one-mile mark, the snowshoe hut at Smith Gap offers visitors a chance to get out of the elements year-round. The hut was constructed though generous grants and numerous private donations. Please practice pack-it-in, pack-it-out when utilizing this park resource.

Beyond Smith Gap visitors will notice the forest beginning to change as the trail continues to climb and enters a drier portion of the park. The cedars are replaced by lodge pole pine in this section of the forest. Once visitors reach the Day Mountain Road intersection, located approximately a quarter mile beyond Smith Gap, they've joined the old Cook auto route. A stone wall near this intersection is all that remains from a 1932 monument, set up at a location where overheated vehicles needed to stop while their drivers added water.

As the trail contours around the backside of Mount Kit Carson there are more views to the west and north. At approximately the 4 mile mark, the trail enters an area of private in-holding that was logged; soon thereafter the forest increases in density again. At around the 5 mile mark, visitors can see the west side of Mount Spokane for the first time. At 6 miles, the Civilian Conservation Corps Heritage Area is accessible via a short spur trail. A CCC camp during the Great Depression, this area was later used as the park headquarters. The rebuilt cabin in this location is a popular snowshoe and snowmobile warming hut during the winter. In the summer, visitors can choose the cabin or the outside picnic tables, depending on the weather. From here it's only a half mile to the Upper Mount Kit Carson Loop Road trailhead.

Note that the Upper Mount Kit Carson Loop Road trailhead is not accessible by vehicle during the winter months. It is possible to hike here utilizing other connector trails within the park.

 

Mount Spokane State Park - Mount Kit Carson Loop Road

Map & Directions

Trailhead

Eastern Washington -- Spokane Area/Coeur d'Alene

Washington State Parks

Guidebooks & Maps

100 Hikes in the Inland Northwest

Rich Landers

Mountaineers Books

Mount Spokane State Park: A User's Guide

Cris Currie and the Friends of Mount Spokane State Park

Grey Dog Press

USGS Mount Spokane

USGS Mount Kit Carson

Friends of Mount Spokane State Park

Core Trails Map (www.mountspokane.org)

Mount Spokane State Park

Backcountry Horsemen Map

Getting There

For the Lower Mount Kit Carson Loop Road trailhead, drive from the Park entrance on Highway 206, continuing on Mount Spokane Park Drive for approximately 1.8 miles to the hairpin turn parking lot. Carefully cross the road to access the Lower Mount Kit Carson Loop Road at the kiosk and park gate. Accessible year-round.

For the Upper Mount Kit Carson Loop Road access point, continue 3.1 miles from the park entrance to the intersection with the Summit Road. Turn left and continue uphill approximately 1.5 miles to the Cook's Cabin Heritage Area. The parking is located in the gravel lot inside the hairpin turn. Carefully cross the summit road to access the Upper Mount Kit Carson Loop Road at the kiosk and park gate. Vehicle access to the Summit Road and trailhead limited to summer/fall, generally mid-June through late October.

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

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Mount Spokane State Park - Mount Kit Carson Loop Road

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